Elizabethan mansion in Northamptonshire beats Tower of London to record-breaking seventh tourist title

Holdenby House has won the Sandford Award for the seventh time, because of its top approach towards education.

Holdenby House has won the Sandford Award for the seventh time, because of its top approach towards education.

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A popular Elizabethan house in Northamptonshire has toppled giants such as Tower of London and Blenheim Palace in becoming the first tourist hostpost to win a prestigious heritage award seven times.

Holdenby House was built in 1583 by Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor and favourite of Elizabeth I, whom she intimately called “her lyddes”.

Since opening to the public 30 years ago, more than 200,000 children have taken a tour of the property, which lies between the A428 and A5199, learning everything from Victorian domestic life, the evacuee experience in World War II, the history of the Tudors and Stuarts and more, brought to life by team of “living history educators”.

But this week the destination is to be awarded with its seventh Sandford Award for heritage education, a prestigious scheme run by the Heritage Education Trust since 1977.

The house will become the only tourist spot to win the award seven times, a feat which not even the Tower of London has achieved.

Owner of Holdenby, James Lowther, said he was thrilled at the prize.

He said: “We have actually got more great historic houses in Northamptonshire than anywhere else.

“But we believes they shouldn’t just be places to gawp at, they need to be used as a tool to educate kids.

“We have had over a quarter of a million children come here since we opend the doors and I think we have really inspired them.”

Entrants for Sandford Awards are assessed by a panel of independent judges, consisting of OFSTED Inspectors, former head teachers, education consultants and heritage property experts.

The award is set to be presented at Holdenby on Monday by Daventry MP Chris Heaton Harris.