Queen Anne's Summerhouse

Schools' Project Spring and Summer 2009

Thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery over 200 children from five local schools (Shackleton Lower School, Cauldwell Lower School, Cotton End Lower School, Northill Lower School and Southill Lower School) participated in a four day cross-curricular project. The project engaged children with the 300 year history of Queen Anne's Summerhouse and its setting on the Shuttleworth Estate, up to and including its restoration by the Landmark Trust.

The children met Richard Aireton, Victorian gamekeeper and one-time resident of Queen Anne's Summerhouse. They had the opportunity to discover all about his life and work on the estate. Listen to Richard talking about his life here.

As the restoration on the summerhouse was still in progress each visiting group saw the work at a slightly different stage. Children had a go at brick rubbing using a professional rubbing stone and documented the sights and sounds in preparation for the creative activities back in the classroom.

The visit ended with a quick tour of the Shuttleworth Collection of aeroplanes and the Swiss Garden.

The site visit was followed by activities back in the classroom. A writer and drama practitioner further explored the history of the building through theatre and writing based activities. The art activities explored historical themes through design. Some children created models that illustrated the different periods of the building's history, some explored the decorative fashions around at the time; others created a group wall hanging for the school hall. A book featuring a collection of images and writing has been presented to each participating child. Please use the link below to view the finished book as a pdf.

An exhibition at the BCA Gallery in Bedford on 9 and 10 August 2009 celebrated the creative achievements. The links to the files below are resources and worksheets used during the Schools Education Project. If you are planning a visit to Old Warden and/or The Shuttleworth Estate you might find these helpful.

Worksheets (pdf 447KB)

Schools' Book (pdf 3.88MB)


Film Project

Six students from Bedford College made a short film about Queen Anne’s Summerhouse – recording the building in 2008 before the work began and during 2009 to capture the restoration process and the finished project. Footage from their work was incorporated in an interpretation film shown to day visitors on the wider Shuttleworth Estate. You can view the final information film here.


Schools and Public Open Day Events

In June 2010, Queen Anne's Summerhouse was the venue for a dance theatre performance by students from the University of Bedfordshire as well as being an unusual classroom for 130 local school children.

The school children from Caudwell Lower School and Shackleton Lower School in Bedford and Laburnum Lower School in Sandy visited to take part in several activities including making textile banners for a site specific installation, inspired by and set within the surrounding woodland.

A piece of dance theatre was specially created and performed on site by staff and students from the University of Bedfordshire's Department of Performing Arts.

Six dance students - Robyn Austin, Pavel Azamotov, Kirsty Bewers, Luke Jessop, Megan Manley and Laura Williams - were joined by two theatre students, Christopher Hodgson and Catherine McFall. Members of staff involved organiser and Senior Lecturer in Dance, James Hewison, who choreographed the dance, while Senior Lecturer in Theatre, Mike Carter, supplied the text.

James said "The weather was great and everyone had a good time. Our aim was to celebrate the history, architecture and physical setting of the house, and especially its role as a place for enjoying the great outdoors."

The performance was accompanied by musicians from University-sponsored orchestra Symphonia Academica. During the performance two new compositions by sixth form students from Luton College were also played. You can listen to these recordings here.

In September 2010 Queen Anne's Summerhouse and Keeper’s Cottage once again welcomed visitors during Heritage Open Days. Glorious autumn weather enticed many people out during the three days and Victorian Gamekeeper Richard Aireton entertained visitors with his woodland tales, allowing a brief glimpse into his life in this beautiful setting.

A local group of migrant families worked with the Landmark Trust’s Education Officer to create artwork from ‘found’ woodland materials and work created by school children was also on display. Folk Musician Mary Hampton performed her exquisite blend of old and new folk songs, filling the woodland air with melody and stories.

In June 2011, Queen Anne’s Summerhouse was the setting for an unusual challenge – to ‘redesign the art of flying’. Inspired by the early aircraft at the Shuttleworth Collection, art students from Bedford College created models, part sculpture, part flying machine, which were judged for their beauty before being launched from the rooftop and tested for their ability to fly (and to crash land). During the weekend an audio installation, edited from sound recordings captured during reminiscence sessions with local residents, was played in the rooftop turrets. Art collective, the Curious Guide, worked with the Landmark Trusts Education Officer to produce these unique soundscapes, which capture life in the village and on the estate.

You can listen to these recordings here.