Press Releases from Levens Hall
19 June 2024
Cumbrian Visitor Attraction Introduces Temporary Umbrella Ban
A Midsummer Night's Dream - At Levens Hall Handlebards production of A Midsummer Night's Dream will be held in the gardens of Levens Hall on Thursday 25th July, 2024

Cumbrian Visitor Attraction Introduces Temporary Umbrella Ban

Cumbrian visitor attraction, Levens Hall and Gardens, home to two giant, centuries-old topiary umbrella trees, is ironically placing a temporary ban on umbrellas - all to try to instil a love of Shakespeare amongst the younger generation.

On July 25, it is welcoming the internationally renowned theatre group, The HandleBards, who make a living from presenting Shakespeare’s plays in a very irreverent and hilarious way. They will be doing just that during their performance of a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

With the drama unfolding on the front lawn in front of the Elizabethan manor house, there could not be a more perfect setting for a play written by a playwright from Elizabeth I’s time and set in the natural environment of a forest.

It is thought that a Midsummer Night’s Dream was written between 1594 and 1596. The play was then published in 1600, one year before Elizabeth I’s death.  The Bellingham family, who owned Levens Hall and Gardens from 1562 until 1688, were fiercely loyal to Queen Elizabeth I, whose coat of arms can be seen within various ornate features inside the Hall.

The HandleBards have already won children over to Shakespeare, by presenting plays in a completely different manner, described as ‘gloriously eccentric and very very funny.”   The hope is that they will create a desire amongst local and visiting children, to delve into the Bard’s works and enjoy them to the full. 

They can only do that, however, if children can see the HandleBards play unfolding before them, with no umbrellas blocking the view!

Hopefully, the weather on the evening of July 25 will be balmy and ponchos and raincoats will not be needed as wet-weather provision.  If the weather is favourable, families are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy on the Levens Hall and Gardens lawn and can spread out a picnic blanket, or even unfold a chair, for added comfort. Only umbrellas are barred!

Those who love to support sustainable ventures will be delighted to hear that the HandleBards carry their set, props and costumes on bicycles, supported by an electric van.  Their environmental concern won them the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, in 2014.  In 2015, they were nominated for both this award once again and for The Stage’s inaugural Sustainability Award.

Levens Hall and Gardens’ owner, Richard Bagot, says, “We have so many glorious Elizabethan features at Levens Hall and Gardens that we really are the perfect setting for one of Shakespeare’s most well-known Elizabethan plays. We would encourage families to take the opportunity to introduce their children to Shakespeare’s work, in this fun and engaging way, and to book tickets online, to contribute to the sustainable ethic of the HandleBards.  This also saves a little bit of money that would have to be paid if arriving and paying at the gate.”

Tickets cost £19.50 for adults £12.50 for those aged 21 and under and £5 for children under the age of 12.  Under-5s enter for free. Tickets are for the Shakespeare event only, at 7pm on July 25, and not for entrance to the Levens Hall property or gardens. Head to for the ticket link.

The HandleBards promise that, even if someone has seen this play before, they will never have seen it presented quite like this.  If the umbrella ban works, everyone should be able to appreciate just how many quirky elements infuse the production.