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Bensham Grove Community Association, Gateshead

Bensham Grove is a Grade II listed building within the multi-cultural area of Bensham in Gateshead. It is a modest house built in 1801 and has been extensively modified over the years. It was owned by and extensively modernised by Robert Spence Watson who was a well regarded and well respected Quaker and it is thought Bensham Grove formed the hub of the cultural sector in Gateshead during the arts and crafts movement. His friends included Ruskin, Rosetti and Morris, who also worked in the house and created some fine fixtures and fittings.

Following these same principles, the house now houses a local community centre, which works with the local community and provides classes and opportunities to learn various forms of arts and crafts.

The management committee and the local history group take a very active role in interpreting and looking after this building. They take part in Heritage open days and re-create characters from the household and they also open at other times of the year. They research and restore the building as much as the can including the gardens, which still exist.

They are passionate and determined to see this building presented in the best possible way and they encourage the local community to help them out and become part of the way forward.

Over a period of nearly ten years, NECT worked with the Community Association and Gateshead Council to help them access funding to restore the historic Victorian interior of Bensham Grove. The project not only focussed on the Arts and Crafts inspired aspects of the building including the famous Burne Jones stained glass windows, the intricate fine plasterwork and some of the ornate ironwork, but also provided funding to train volunteers with skills in research techniques and gave them opportunities to learn more about the diverse culture and history of the local community.

More information on the history of the building, and those that lived there, and the activities and volunteering opportunities that are happening now can be found on the Bensham Grove website here