Brodsworth Hall and Gardens is a remarkable Grade I listed Hall, surrounded by a Grade II* park and gardens, five miles from Doncaster. Since English Heritage opened it up to the public in 1995, visitor numbers have been growing steadily and the gardens in particular have developed a reputation throughout the region for their spectacular seasonal changes.
Today Brodsworth is one of English Heritage’s most important sites, attracting around 100,000 visitors annually. But the offer, as at many heritage properties, has a number of historic constraints which impact negatively on the visitor experience and limit its performance.
The purpose of the masterplan was to assess how every aspect of the site’s offer can be improved and developed over the next decade, ensuring that it continues to be enjoyed by everybody for generations to come.
English Heritage is big organisation run by a diverse and highly skilled team from a range of professional disciplines. The role of the AMION team, which included architects, landscape architects, interpretive consultants and quantity surveyors, alongside our business planning and general consultancy team, was to bring analysis, insight and ideas and to provide a forum through which we could collectively define a vision for the site’s future.
Brodsworth is dearly loved by its local community and the largely ‘preserved as found’ approach to the visitor experience in the Hall offers a challenging and very personal insight into the generations of people who lived and worked there. But there are significant weaknesses in the current offer: it is difficult for visitors to ‘understand’ the site as a whole because there is no orientation on arrival and limited guidance for how to plan a visit; the visitor facilities, particularly the catering offer, do not meet the needs of visitors; key heritage assets, such as the Stables Block, are not currently accessible to visitors; there are limited play facilities; and there are no dedicated spaces for the local community to engage with the site.
In addressing these weaknesses, the new10-year masterplan includes a sensitive redevelopment of the arrival building which will provide a welcome hub, café, orientation experience, play area and education/community facilities. A new interpretation scheme will rejuvenate the Hall and link its stories to the Gardens which will continue to be sensitively restored. At the heart of the masterplan is a drive to improve access for everybody, providing a major opportunity for co-curation and development with the local community. It will also provide an opportunity to improve the environmental footprint of the site through a range of interventions.