Teddy bears tend to be some of our most cherished mementoes from childhood which makes it even more extraordinary that popular broadcaster Gyles Brandreth has decided to give away his entire collection to Newby Hall.
And it’s no ordinary collection. The bears the writer and former MP has gifted to the stately home near Ripon include the original star of the Paddington 1970s TV series, Harry Corbett’s Sooty from the 1950s and the Muppet Show’s Fozzie Bear given to Brandreth by Jim Henson.
Gyles said: “These bears are my pride and joy, a life time’s collection. My own childhood companion, Growler, went absent without leave many years ago and has yet to return but he sparked a lifelong interest in teddy bears.”
Built in the 1690s by Sir Christopher Wren, such is the excitement at Newby Hall for what it is believed is actually the world’s largest collections of famous teddy bears, it’s constructed a new purpose-built Bear House in its grounds.
The extensive collection was assembled by teddy bear enthusiasts Brandreth and his wife, Michele Brown, over many years and previously housed at the former Teddy Bear Museum in Stratford-on-Avon.
Brandreth explained why he had chosen Newby Hall for his bears’ new home.
He said: “When I visited Newby Hall to make a film for The One Show about its history, I discovered this beautiful house was where the King and Queen would have been moved to in the event of an invasion during World War Two and I thought ‘If it is fit for a king, it’s fit for my bears!”
Other notable bears in this large collection include the original Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear, French ex-president Francois Mitterand’s own teddy bear Francois and a range of literary-themed teddy bears including Winnie the Pooh and the Bear of Avon, William Shakesbeare himself.
Newby Hall owner Richard Compton said: “We are delighted to welcome the Brandreth Bear collection to Newby Hall. The calibre of bear is very impressive and is sure to attract many visitors.”
The collection will be open to the public from Saturday, May 28.
Entry to the exhibition is included in the garden entry price, although teddy bear visitors will be admitted free of charge!