Renishaw Hall, Sheffield celebrating literary life of Osbert Sitwell

A bust of Sir Osbert Sitwell by Frank Dobson
A bust of Sir Osbert Sitwell by Frank Dobson

Renishaw Hall and Gardens in north Derbyshire has this week opened for its 2019 season and has also announced a new exhibition which focuses on the life, literature and legacy of one of Renishaw’s family members, Sir Osbert Sitwell.

The new displays in the Sitwell Museum will be open to visitors from mid-April, and have been developed by Christine Beevers, archivist at Renishaw Hall and expert on the lives and works of the Sitwell family - in particular the ‘Sitwell Trio’ of which Osbert was middle sibling.

Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell played a huge part in the British artistic and literary world in the early part of the last century.
Dame Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was a grandly eccentric poet and novelist, Sir Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969) wrote prose, poetry and also many short stories and novels and Sir Sacheverell Sitwell (1897-1988) was well known for his work on art, architecture, ballet and travel.

They come from a long line of collectors and patrons of the arts who have added to the collections at Renishaw over the past 400 years.

Christine said: “Osbert is perhaps less well known than his older sister, Dame Edith Sitwell, and yet produced many acclaimed poems, books and writings during the 20th century, as well as being a patron of many rising stars of the artistic world.

“Amongst these artists was John Piper, the now world-famous painter whose work features extensively throughout the interiors of Renishaw Hall and for whom Renishaw and north Derbyshire was a great source of inspiration.”

This year, marking 50 years since Osbert’s death in Italy in 1969, visitors to Renishaw Hall and Gardens can learn more about this important member of the Sitwell family.

The museum turns the spotlight on his achievements and impact throughout the 20th century as well as at Renishaw, using material from the Sitwell’s family archive and library, along with published biographical information.

Great-niece of Osbert and current owner of Renishaw Hall and Gardens, Alexandra Sitwell, said: “This new exhibition is a fitting tribute to the passion my great uncle had for the arts and also celebrates his own work and its influence on 20th-century culture.

“I am delighted visitors will be able to come along and learn more about the achievements of this remarkable man.”

With materials spanning from childhood letters, war poetry, family photographs and personal memorabilia, through to final writings, the exhibition on Osbert Sitwell will be a fascinating addition for visitors to Renishaw Hall this year. 

Renishaw Hall and Gardens opened for the 2019 season yesterday, Wednesday (March 27), and will host its usual events throughout the year including specialist plant fairs, food and craft fair and vineyard tours, as well as regular hall tours on Fridays throughout the season.

The hall itself can only be visited by guided tour on certain days as it is still a home that the family live in.

The new exhibition will be open to visitors from mid-April, during the same opening times as the gardens, from Wednesday to Sunday and on Bank Holiday Mondays until the end of September.

As well as wandering the hall’s beautiful gardens, visitors can browse in shops in the Stables Courtyard and visit the popular cafe.

There is also a vineyard, producing award-winning wine, that was established in 1972 by Alexandra’s father, the late Sir Reresby Sitwell. Until 1986, it was famously certified as the most northern vineyard in the world, 53 degrees 18 minutes north.

Winemaker Kieron takes public and private group tours lasting 90 minutes around the vineyard, which include tastings of the wines produced.

Perhaps the most unusual is the sparkling Pét-Nat ‘Wild’ wine, pressed by feet and made by natural fermentation methods.

To book a tour at a cost of £10 a head, go online at www.englishwineproject.co.uk. The first date this year is Sunday, May 19.

For information about the hall, go online at www.renishaw-hall.co.uk, call 01246 432 310 or follow the hall on Facebook or Twitter.