Wednesday 26th August 2020
A Message from the Chair of Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust
The Trustees of Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust have had to take the difficult decision to close the Bishop’s House doors for an extended winter shutdown from 1st September through to Spring 2021. This decision reflects the extremely challenging financial conditions arising from the COVID-19 crisis, which saw the charity unable to welcome visitors into Hartlebury Castle’s buildings for 4 months at what would normally be one of its busiest periods of the year.
The Trust was able to re-open the Bishop’s House and Grounds during the weekend only in early July. However, as has been seen at other historic sites, it quickly became clear that visitor numbers will be slow to recover to previous levels and the charity cannot risk losing even more money by remaining opening during the quieter winter period.
Chair of Trustees Paul West said, “This undoubtedly has been the most difficult decision that the Trustees have had to take since the charitable trust was first set up to purchase, restore and run the Castle in 2008. We are deeply saddened by the impact that the lengthy closure of the Bishop’s House will have on our dedicated and enthusiastic staff, the majority of whom we have had to make redundant. However, our over-riding consideration at this difficult time must be to do everything possible to ensure that the Castle survives to welcome visitors for many years to come, so they can continue to hear the fascinating stories of its 1000 years of history.”
The Trust will use the extended shutdown period to develop its commercial income streams including weddings and other private hires and events, so that when the Bishop’s House does re-open next Spring it can do so on a sound financial footing with a long term, sustainable future. Planning is already under way for new, interactive ways to engage with visitors and an exciting programme of public events during 2021.
Worcestershire County Museum, which shares the site at Hartlebury, will remain open during the Castle’s shutdown period and will continue to welcome visitors to the Museum in the Castle’s North Wing, its transport gallery and orchard, where they can discover the history of Worcestershire. The gardens and grounds will also remain open to visitors. For more information about the Museum and opening times, click here.
Worcestershire County Council and Museums Worcestershire will continue to support the Trust as they head into this critically important period of future planning and business development.
The Trust hopes to host a small number of special events during the Castle’s extended period of closure, the first of which will be a weekend of Heritage Open Days on Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th September, when the whole site will be open completely free of charge to visitors (booking required). To find out more about our upcoming events, please visit our What’s On page, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.