The Judge’s Lodging runner up in the 2016 Hudson’s Heritage Awards 2016

Gaby Rivers and Gemma McBader collect the award from Dan Cruickshank, along with representatives of Bletchley Park Trust.

The Judge’s Lodging in Presteigne has been recognised for the second time in two years at the prestigious  2016 Hudson’s Heritage Awards.


Whilst museum staff were busy lighting their period lights and opening the doors to welcome the first visitors of 2016, their curator, Gaby Rivers, was down in London accepting an award.


The Judge’s Lodging picked up the highly commended second place in the Best New Discovery category, behind winner Bletchley Park Trust. The Hudson’s Heritage Awards have several categories and The Judge’s Lodging has twice before been honoured in them, being heralded as the Britain’s Best Hidden Gem in 2014.


This Best New Discovery category refers to ‘Something newly found, uncovered, researched or restored’ and was given for The Judge’s Lodging’s project working with young student conservator Gemma McBader last year on an Ethiopian Emperor’s shield.


The shield lay forgotten in the local history collection until Gemma chose it to work on for her Masters Degree at Cardiff University. Her work helped to identify that not only is it unique in design in shields held throughout large UK collections, but it turned out to have been a gift to Lord Rennell Rodd of Presteigne from the Emperor Menelik II on the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897. An item from a small town museum which turned out to have real international significance.


Norman Hudson, founder of Hudson’s Historic House Guide, the UK’s leading publication on historic properties open to the public, said the project showed that it must not be forgotten what amazing treasures can be found within collections in small museums throughout the country.


The Judge’s Lodging was by far the smallest historic property honoured at the awards, but this time, there was good reason to be truly amazed by their accolade.


Find out more about the original story of the shield’s restoration online at


When it was revealed at the ceremony, the details of winning project from Bletchley Park Trust, Gaby Rivers expressed museum’s feelings immediately on social media for people eagerly awaiting the outcome of the awards:


“When can we be truly humbled by taking second place at an award ceremony? When the winner is Bletchley Park discovering some of Alan Turing’s notes that had been screwed up and used to stop up a draft – wow,” she wrote.


Established in 2011, the awards are an independently judged, annual, national scheme open to historic houses, gardens, museums and heritage sites and celebrate the very best visitor experiences.


Dan Cruickshank, distinguished architectural historian, presented the awards at Goldsmiths Hall, London on March 1 with invited guests including owners and managers of the winning entries, representatives of the heritage tourist industry and the media.


The lunch was hosted by an independent judging panel of heritage experts including chairman Norman Hudson, OBE, heritage consultant, Lucinda Lambton, writer and broadcaster, Jeremy Musson, architectural writer, Simon Foster, consultant to Channel 4’s Country House Rescue and Ken Robinson, CBE, tourism business consultant.