Ingestre Hall

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Ingestre Hall's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Ingestre Hall is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Head of Centre Felix Pepler
Ingestre Hall
Ingestre Hall is a Grade II* listed residence near Stafford and is
home to the only dedicated residential arts centre for children
and young people in the country. They provide weekend and
week-long programmes that focus on creative learning across
a wide range of mediums and specialities. As part of Sandwell
Metropolitan Borough Council’s residential educational service,
they work with schools from across the UK and abroad. Head
of Centre Felix Pepler explains their commitment to the creative
arts and the need for greater awareness of the benefits of this
learning method.
At Ingestre Hall, our primary goal is to promote learning through the arts. We
inhabit a unique position in the UK: we are the only dedicated residential arts
centre for children and young people in the country. We host schools and
other groups who engage in a focused programme which includes immersive
involvement in music, drama, visual art, dance and media arts. All of these children
work with our professional tutors, who are experienced in both education and their
respective fields. These stays range from a weekend to a full week, culminating in
an original shared presentation to their peers at the end of the session.
We are equipped to host up to 100 children at a time and work in partnership with
schools and youth groups across the country, and we have recently expanded this
to include international schools. Everything we do at Ingestre Hall is arts focused.
The arts sessions employ state-of-the-art facilities, and evening activities include a
3D cinema, disco and social spaces and an interactive First World War exhibition.
»Head of Centre: Felix Pepler
»Founded in 1960
»Based in rural Staffordshire
»Services: Residential arts
»No. of employees: 16
Ingestre Hall Residential Arts
Highlighting best practice
Alongside this main service, we also
offer private hire of our grounds and
the Grade II* listed hall. We engage
with a large range of clients, from
specialist educational firms to wedding
parties. We are owned and maintained
by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough
Council and are part of their group of
specialist learning centres. All of our
centres are committed to delivering
high-quality residential experiences
and are aligned to the core principles
outlined by the Learning Away
“Brilliant Residentials” campaign.
Our wider offer of private hire and
functions enables us to reinvest in
providing arts learning experiences for
children and young people, which are
our key motivation and main passion.
The legacy of the Earl of
We were established after the sale of
Ingestre Hall to the council in 1960.
Previously, the hall was owned by the
Shrewsbury family, and our passion
for the arts derives directly from the
legacy of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The
Earl and his first wife were committed
to promoting artistic endeavour and
had originally planned for the estate to
become a summer school for young and
aspiring artists. Following a change in
circumstances, this plan was dissolved,
but a protection order was inserted that
ensured the hall could only be used for
the education of young children. Then
a part of West Bromwich, the hall was
purchased by Sandwell council. We
could not exist without this legacy and
are indebted to the Earl and Countess
of Shrewsbury and Councillor Joseph
Turner in West Bromwich for their
foresight and generosity.
The estate itself is blessed with a
wide variety of distinguished features.
All the grounds were designed by
Capability Brown, and we have access
to the only Christopher Wren parish
church outside of London. There is also
an impressive James “Athenian” Stuart
orangery on site, which has just been
awarded significant funds from the
Heritage Lottery Fund, among others,
to be redeveloped and extended as a
community hub and heritage centre.
Our main aim is to demonstrate the
value and scope of arts education.
Before I joined, the hall and the services
provided were often regarded as
Music students
recording an original
We inhabit a
position in the
UK: we are the
only dedicated
residential arts
centre for
children and
young people
in the country
“closed to the community”, relatively
unknown outside the local area. Since
then, we have tried to raise awareness
of our programmes and reach out
to community partners. Key to this
endeavour is promoting the articulation
of a theory of change that demonstrates
the advantages of arts development.
Our success has been based on a shared
belief that all children should have the
right to participate in high-quality arts
activities and realise the possibilities of
joining the creative industries.
A journey of discovery
through creativity
We aim to promote the personal
development of every child who attends
our sessions. The success of this is not
based on the quality of the child’s
output but is intrinsically linked to the
transformation they undergo during the
process. We see our programmes as a
journey of discovery through creativity.
Beyond the residency itself, we
endeavour to start this process in their
school before they arrive and continue
the learning there when they depart.
This allows us to understand the specific
needs of each group, as well as identify
the most meaningful contexts for their
learning experience. The emphasis
on attainment can often mean that
education becomes formulaic, with
direct discussion suppressed, and
we aim to re-energise the profession
through our focus on artistic innovation.
One of the main ways we can
achieve this is through the excellent
relationships that we have with other
local services. By liaising with other
agencies that have similar goals,
we work collaboratively to promote
the appreciation of the necessity of
creative learning. We work tirelessly to
raise the profile of arts education. The
recent change in the message from
Ofsted reinforces our conviction to
ensure the arts are part of a balanced
curriculum and can be powerfully
served through residential learning.
Making the arts available to all
One of the main challenges that
we face is reduced funding. The
cultural landscape in general is
facing ever-greater cutbacks, but
this is even more pronounced in arts
education. Successive governments
have protected funding for certain
“high” arts, which are predominantly
enjoyed by the privileged and are out
of reach of the wider population,
particularly those experiencing financial
disadvantage. We are committed to
providing all sections of society with
the experience of creative learning and
strive to make sure we do not lose the
value of participation in the arts.
By ensuring we maintain a high
standard, we hope to become an
example for the huge benefit of creative
education. We are also embarking on
a vision to promote arts residential
experiences more widely. By promoting
creativity to the youngest members
of our society, we can ensure the
continued prosperity of these essential
industries. Ingestre Hall’s walls are
adorned with famous quotations, and
our aims can be summarised by Maya
Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have.”
Pupils trying new
techniques in visual art
Our success has
been based on a
shared belief
that all children
should have the
right to
participate in
high-quality arts
activities and
realise the
possibilities of
joining the

This article was sponsored by Ingestre Hall. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister