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The Sandford Award is managed by Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln in partnership with the Heritage Education Trust.

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How it all began

The Sandford Award is named after its founder, Lord Sandford, who was Minister of the Environment during the European Year of Architecture in 1977 and was inspired to continue the educational access to historic buildings pioneered at that time.

Lord Sandford instituted an award scheme to encourage those responsible for running historic houses to operate to an agreed standard and to guide their educational endeavours. In 1978 the first Sandford Awards were made and presented to historic houses and castles that were making an outstanding contribution to heritage education.  By 1982 the scheme had become well established and the Heritage Education Trust was set up to develop the work of the scheme more fully.

How the award scheme developed

The Heritage Education Trust (HET) is a registered charity that encourages children and young people to visit and learn from the historic environment. Since 1982, HET has recognised and promoted high quality in educational provision offered by museums and heritage sites through the annual Sandford Awards. The categories of eligible sites have steadily increased since the Award’s inception and include industrial buildings, places of worship, gardens and landscapes, wildlife parks, replica buildings and large historic artefacts such as ships. The Sandford Award criteria continues to provide a bench-mark for determining quality in heritage education.

“Over the past 40 years, the Sandford Award has recognised a huge variety of education programmes at hundreds of heritage sites across the British Isles. We are looking forward to building on this success in the years to come by continuing to broaden the reach of the scheme and celebrating many more heritage education heroes.”   — Dr Tracy Borman  Chief Executive, Heritage Education Trust

“Over the past 40 years, the Sandford Award has recognised a huge variety of education programmes at hundreds of heritage sites across the British Isles. We are looking forward to building on this success in the years to come by continuing to broaden the reach of the scheme and celebrating many more heritage education heroes.”

— Dr Tracy Borman

Chief Executive, Heritage Education Trust


Bishop Grosseteste University is a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity. Registered in England and Wales, Company Number 11963500 and Charity Number 1184682 | The Heritage Education Trust is a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee and a Registered Charity. Registered in England Company Number 2080758 and Charity Number 297311