Additional opportunities to see town’s ‘hidden gem’

ONE OF Arbroath’s most memorable buildings, Hospitalfield House, will open its doors more frequently to the public next year following the increased popularity of its open days and events which have brought some 2,000 visitors over the threshold in the last year

December’s open day alone drew almost 500 to see one of the hidden gems of Angus, raising almost £3,000 to support the Grade 1 listed building.

In addition to quarterly open days, a monthly series of ‘First Wednesday Tours’ will be launched in March with a small pool of volunteer guides showing visitors the house and collections.

Hospitalfield Trust chairman Ken Cargill explained: “We have been enormously encouraged by the interest taken in the house. Many local people have expressed genuine surprise and delight at what Hospitalfield has to offer and those from further afield are equally impressed.

“By establishing a regular series of tour afternoons on the first Wednesday of every month, we hope local organisations, groups and companies will start to book their trips to Hospitalfield and reserve their places.

“By using enthusiastic local volunteers as guides we will be delivering an authentic experience of the Arbroath historic house as well as developing the local knowledge of its history.”

Tours will run between 2.30 and 4.30 p.m. priced at £5 per person and afternoon teas will be available. Volunteers wishing to train as guides should contact director Willie Payne on 01241 872333.

The growing interest in Hospitalfield is also being fostered by encouraging sales of the new short history titled, Hospitalfield House which has sold over 150 copies in the week since its launch.

“Considering the book is only available via the website or from Hospitalfield direct this is a very creditable start,” said Mr Cargill.

One of the first events in the new year will be a ‘Literary Sunday Lunch Workshop’ on January 22 when anyone with a literary bent is welcome to share soup, stovies, and ideas with prize-winning Angus writer Lydia Robb in the inspirational setting of Hospitalfield’s fabulous picture gallery.

Lydia, who is well known for her work with writing groups, will lead the workshop from 1 to 3.30 p.m. The project is supported by the Scottish Book Trust.

With the bicentenary of the birth of Patrick Allan-Fraser being celebrated in 2013 it’s an ideal time for writers to look for inspiration in the house that he left in trust to the arts, and to start developing a body of work which could potentially be published in the bicentenary year. Tickets which include lunch, cost £10 and can be booked via friends@hospitalfield.org

A second literary event on February 9, an audience with one of Scotland’s most successful authors, Rebus originator Ian Rankin, is already fully booked courtesy of jazz @ Hospitalfield who have an excellent series of gigs arranged for 2012.

Other events in the coming year include a Friends’ Anniversary Reception on March 10, and a series of gourmet suppers starting with one to celebrate Tartan Week on March 30.

Full details can be found on the Hospitalfield website www.hospitalfield.org.uk