Visitor numbers soar at Gunby Hall in record-breaking year

Some key members of the Gunby Hall team. Pictured, from left, Sue Cushen, visitor services assistant, Rachel Marriott, visitor services manager, Tasha Prosser, assistant head gardener, Clive Ironmonger, head gardener, Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, Astrid Gatenby, house manager, and Veronica Sellers, visitor services assistant.
Some key members of the Gunby Hall team. Pictured, from left, Sue Cushen, visitor services assistant, Rachel Marriott, visitor services manager, Tasha Prosser, assistant head gardener, Clive Ironmonger, head gardener, Simon Jenkins, chairman of the National Trust, Astrid Gatenby, house manager, and Veronica Sellers, visitor services assistant.
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Gunby Hall is celebrating a record-breaking year after welcoming more than 32,000 visitors - double that of the previous 12 months.

And it’s a ‘win-win’ situation for surrounding businesses, which also enjoy the benefits of increased footfall, says the house manager Astrid Gatenby.

She said: “We are delighted - it’s a lot more than we expected. This is a huge increase and a tripling of the 9,000 who visited us back in 2011. We could not have achieved these numbers without our small army of volunteers and small team of highly motivated staff. When I started at Gunby in 2011 we had a team of six room guides, now we have 86.”

She added: “We pass on trade to nearby pubs, restaurants and garden centres - they have told us to keep it coming. It’s a win-win situation all round. Bring on next year.”

The property off the A158, near Spilsby, became fully managed by the National Trust in 2012 - and since then has increased its opening hours.

“It’s not just a case of build it and they will come,” added Astrid. “We are open for longer and opened up more of the house and gardens. In 2015 we will also open the house on Saturdays, which we hope will further increase our visitor numbers and means we need to recruit more volunteer room guides.”

The house may have been built in 1700 but the team are using the latest platforms - including social media and the web - to market the property to a wider audience, which is paying dividends, said Astrid.

“It was a gamble to run it purely as a visitor attraction but our recent visitor numbers have proven that the Trust made the right decision,” she added. “We are so grateful for the many local people who visit us regularly and are true ambassadors for Gunby.”

There is still time to visit with the last opening on Sunday, November 2. There is also a special Halloween event on October 25-26, followed by Christmas openings on November 29 and 30 and December 6,7,13 and 14.

l For more information, call 01754 890102 or look on the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gunby-hall.