STAFF and volunteers at Newby Hall and Gardens near Ripon are putting the finishing touches to the historic home before it re-opens at the end of the month.
Work has been going on throughout winter to ensure the venue – deemed the best large visitor attraction in Yorkshire by the experts at the White Rose Awards – looks spick and span when it re-opens to visitors on Saturday, March 31.
Lucinda Compton, wife of Newby’s owner Richard Compton, is a professional art restorer and has removed 250 years of grime from Newby’s sculpture of Faustina using a poultice of sepiolite and water.
She said: “A few years ago we cleaned most of the statues in the sculpture gallery, but left Faustina half-cleaned, so that visitors could see the contrast.
“It seemed only fair to finish the cleaning and restore her to her former beauty.”
Meanwhile the gardeners have been pruning, clearing, mulching and planting, and the maintenance team have rebuilt the autumn garden pond, which had sprung a serious leak.
There are also extra picnic benches to meet demands of the increasing number of visitors and a bike rack for those who arrive at Newby by pedal power.
With the diamond jubilee fast approaching, Newby’s fine replica Crown Jewels have been cleaned and remounted ready to be noticed and appreciated as visitors pass through the Entrance Pavilion.
All admission tickets will now be sold in the pavilion, a move that should alleviate queuing in cars, which young families in particular will appreciate.
Administrator Stuart Gill explained: “By allowing families to park first, then pay on foot, everyone can go at their own speed – visit the loos, or stretch their legs first.
“Being in a long queue of traffic with hot fractious children is no fun for anyone and we think this is the answer.”
Each winter the miniature trains, carriages and track are overhauled and this year the little railway bridge also got a smart new coat of paint, courtesy of railway winter volunteers Doreen and Mick.
But railway manager David Driffield is looking for more volunteers to drive the miniature trains. Anyone interested should contact David via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
l Newby Hall will be open from Saturday, March 31, to September 30.A full programme of events and study days can be found on the website www.newbyhall.com