Laurence Sterne's Shandy Hall Receives Major Renovation Grant

Laurence Sterne Trust/Wikicommons

Shandy Hall

The home of Laurence Sterne, author of the groundbreaking The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman has been awarded a Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND) grant of £166,250 to carry out essential repairs.

Shandy Hall, Sterne's home in the Yorkshire village of Coxwold, is celebrating the 50th year of operation as a public museum and will be opening for the new season on April 1, a month earlier than normal.

The Hall is a Grade I listed building which dates back to the mid-15th century and is now a lived-in museum and literary house celebrating the life and works of Sterne who lived there from 1760 to 1768. It holds the world’s largest collection of editions of Laurence Sterne as well as a collection of ‘experimental fiction’. The Trust which runs Shandy Hall says the grant money will go towards important repairs to protect the building, prevent weather damage, and generally improve the fabric of the building, with a view to extending public access to more rooms on the upper floor.

"The grant is very welcome," Shandy Hall Curator Patrick Wildgust told Fine Books. "All the repair and restoration work that will be carried out will help to guarantee both the future of this remarkable building and its contents. The north-facing and east-facing walls will be improved by removing all concrete and cement and replacing it with traditional lime mortar. Also, a new porch will give easier access to the house for visitors."

It is the latest in a long history of works undertaken to preserve the building, starting in 1967 when the Trust bought and began a maintenance programme, which has included turning the old granary building into an exhibition gallery and an apartment on the ground floor for artist residencies. During the pandemic lockdown, further essential works were carried out such as repointing outside walls and repairing Sterne's study, the centrepiece of the building.
More than 70 other cultural organisations across the UK shared the latest funding pot of £58.8m from the government which goes towards transforming, upgrading and creating arts venues. Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: "This investment will help to level up access to arts and culture for everyone, no matter where they live. Culture helps us create lifelong memories with our families and friends, provides entertainment and joy, and allows us to explore the world around us in new and exciting ways. It can also boost tourism, support local business and drive local economic growth. This funding will support brilliant arts organisations to upgrade their venues and create new projects that will be at the heart of their communities."