One of the world’s largest collections of famous teddy bears has been gifted to Newby Hall in North Yorkshire, England, by British broadcaster Gyles Brandreth. The extensive collection was assembled by teddy bear enthusiasts Brandreth and his wife, Michele Brown, and previously housed at the former Teddy Bear Museum in Stratford-on-Avon. At Newby, the collection will be housed in a new purpose-built Bear House in the extensive grounds and will be on permanent display beginning May 28.
Bear lovers of all ages will be able to get ‘up close and pawsonal’ with world-famous bears, including the original star of the “Paddington” animated TV series and “Muppet Show” stalwart Fozzie Bear. The collection also features bear companions of the rich and famous. The bears will be displayed in a series of specially commissioned tableaux, ranging from a classic picnic and a library scene to a church wedding and even an Olympics scene.
The collection also includes a variety of rare and unusual bears including an early Steiff and early English teddy bears from Merrythought, Dean, and Farnell, as well as the Pauline Grattan collection of 20th-century Hermann dressed bears and even one bear made entirely of moss. As well as providing an array of teddies, the exhibition will tell the story of the teddy bear from its origins in Europe and the US at the beginning of the 20th century until today.
“Teddy bears have been popular for more than a century and the world would be a sadder and less friendly place without them,” said Brandreth. “My own childhood companion, Growler, went absent without leave many years ago and has yet to return, however he sparked a lifelong interest in teddy bears.
“These bears are my pride and joy, a life time’s collection. When I visited Newby Hall, to make a film for The One Show about its history and heritage, I discovered this beautiful house was where the King and Queen would have been moved to in the event of an invasion during World War Two and I thought ‘If it is fit for a king, it’s fit for my bears!'”
Newby Hall owner Richard Compton said, “We are delighted to welcome the Brandreth Bear collection to Newby Hall in May and we thank Gyles and Michele for choosing it as the new home for their impressive collection. Following on from the success of the Dollshouse exhibition, we think this collection will be just as popular and prove an additional indoor attraction on damper days. We all had our own much cherished childhood teddy bears so the collection will resonate with many people. The caliber of bear is also very impressive and is sure to attract many new and regular visitors to Newby and its gardens.”
Entry to the exhibition is included in the garden entry price, although teddy bear visitors will be admitted free of charge.