Curatorial change of hands at Ford venue

A pub landlord and retired teacher is taking over the reins at a historic visitor attraction in north Northumberland.

Friday, 8th April 2016, 10:33 am
Geoff Bavidge is taking over as curator at Lady Waterford Hall from Dorien Irving.

Since leaving education Geoff Bavidge has been joint landlord of the Black Bull at Lowick as well as a seasonal guide at Bamburgh Castle and is now taking over at Lady Waterford Hall in Ford.

Current curator Dorien Irving is moving on to pastures new after 15 years at the helm and, to thank her for her work, she was presented with gifts and flowers by Lady Joicey and members of staff from Ford and Etal Estates.

“I’m overwhelmed – I really wasn’t expecting this,” said Dorien. “I have loved every minute of my time at the hall and in many respects will be sad to leave. It has been a fantastic experience and I have met some wonderful people along the way. I wish Geoff every success in his new post – and, of course, as I am still living in the village I will be able to pop in and see him and his team from time to time.”

Geoff, who lives in Ford, said he was honoured to have been appointed to the post.

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“Although a hard act to follow, I hope to build on Dorien’s success and I’m hoping my experience in education, in hospitality and in guiding will weld together and make me fit for purpose. I’m looking forward to the task ahead and know I have the support of Lady Joicey and Ford and Etal Estates. Above all, I’m working with a splendid team of colleagues at the hall.”

This year, the hall will be displaying and selling products made by local artisans, artists and crafters, showcasing a different one each month. The first on display is a selection of award-winning Lady Waterford Preserves, made by Lynne Allan of The Old Dairy in Ford.

Lady Joicey said: “We’re delighted to offer these delicious jams and marmalades from the hall. It seemed only fitting that, as Double Gold winner, they are the first to be showcased in our display cabinet this season. I’m sure they will be very much in demand – I recommend an early visit to avoid disappointment!”

Commissioned in 1860 by Louisa Anne, Marchioness of Waterford and owner of Ford Estate, the hall was the village school until 1957 and in its heyday had as many as 134 children on the register.

Many of them were used as models by Lady Waterford who was a keen English artist associated with John Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelite movement and her stunning Biblical scenes can still be seen on the walls of the hall today.

Louisa Waterford is now recognised as one of the most interesting and gifted artists of her time and many of her original smaller artworks are displayed in the Hall along with a display from her sketchbooks.

As well as the artwork family activities are available for all ages such as word searches and anagrams and a museum detective trail.

The hall is open daily to the public from late March until the end of October (by appointment during the winter months) although, as it also serves as the village hall, it is occasionally closed for private hire.

On April 23 afternoon visitors to the hall will be entertained by the Reston Concert band playing popular music standards. From time to time ‘Victorian School Days’ are held at the Hall as well as other events and activities – visit for more information.