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Heritage Education Trust & The Sandford Awards

The Heritage Education Trust is the leading light of historic house education, recognising and promoting good practice in learning services within the historic environment.

Recognition is made through the annual Sandford Awards for Heritage Education, which assesses the provision of quality education in and about historic sites, buildings, museums, galleries, cathedrals, places of worship, gardens, landscapes and historic artefacts.    Promotion is through advocacy and a network of good practice. The Trust seeks to encourage innovation, transferability and sustainability alongside fun and enjoyment in education programmes. 

In 1977 Lord Sandford as Minister of the Environment, instigated The Sandford Awards – to encourage schools to visit historic places. The Awards have run every year since and in 1983 the HHA, English Heritage and the National Trust joined him to establish the Heritage Education Trust to administer the Awards and to promote and encourage education within the historic environment.   Michael Saunders Watson, the President of the HHA went on to chair the Heritage Education Trust until he retired in 1998.   

The Historic Houses Association has continued to support the Heritage Education Trust both by providing financial support over the years and by promotion to its members. The Trust and its personnel work closely with the Association.  

In 2016 a number of HHA Members won Sandford Awards:

Layer Marney Tower, Essex


This year Fairfax House in York is the winner of the HHA Frances Garnham Award.


The Award, now in its second year, commemorates the work and achievements of Frances Garnham who worked as the HHA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns until 2015. Frances was passionate about encouraging HHA Members to introduce educational components to their visitor programmes. The award therefore is given to a property with an innovative approach to its educational offering.

Fairfax House introduced its new educational initiative in March 2015, Gregory The Townhouse Mouse. Together he and his friends lead children through Fairfax House to discover secrets of the property.

The Townhouse Mouse, brought to life by illustrator Nick Ellwood, offers a new and unique introduction for younger visitors. Gregory invites his fellow mouselings to follow his trail and tale (tail). Exploring mouse holes in various rooms, families need to search for Gregory, and complete the puzzles in the trail guide to claim their reward at the end. 
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