02 Dec 2019
by Ella Roberts

Looking up from the drive, with a circle of grass with a bare tree, up towards a large 17th-century red brick farmhouse.
(© Philip Vile / Britten-Pears Foundation)

Why we take part

We are newcomers, having first taken part in 2017, HODs is now very much part of our calendar, and my personal highlight of the year.

It’s a great opportunity to share our beautiful site with a wider audience. Visitors may think that a composer museum/historic house is not for them but they soon find out that there is something for everyone. Visitors love the homeliness and warmth of Britten and his partner Peter Pears’ home and the huge scale of their art collection. They also enjoy exploring the five acres of gardens which include a kitchen garden where you can pick as many strawberries and raspberries as you want! 

What we do for HODs

We open as normal but drop our entry fee and we also add an extra talk or exhibition. This year we marked our local cinema’s centenary with a talk about Benjamin Britten’s relationship with film and Aldeburgh Cinema and an archival display of Britten’s financial receipts and in particular the purchases he made on the High Street.

A black and white images of a man in a suit, looking towards the 17th-century farmhouse. Stood by a white fence, behind him the driveway.
Benjamin Britten at The Red House. (© Britten-Pears Foundation)

The difference it's made

It has definitely helped us reach our local audience. This year we held a launch event of our ‘Sharing Suffolk Stories’ project which is in partnership with Suffolk Archives and we invited residents to find out more and possibly take part. They had never visited us before and were bowled over by our display showing Britten’s receipts of purchases from shops they had either worked in or that family and friends had owned. We always say that our archive is a large box of stories and it was wonderful to see so many people respond to and even add their own stories to these objects.
A long wooden table with letters and pictures laid out for the people walking around the table to examine.
Visitors took a trip down memory lane through a special display of archive records of Britten’s High Street. (© Britten-Pears Foundation)

Nice surprise

With little marketing resources and advertising we are able to reach many more people through the HODs website. Visitors are so complimentary and some buy an annual admission ticket so they can come back again and again!

Ella's top tip!

Do it! It’s worth knowing that there is no pressure to do more than your resources allows and the HODs team will support and guide you through it all.

Inspired? Find out more