It’s not just chocolate you can search for at our historic places this Easter. This year we’re adding something a little more ‘eggsclusive’ to our annual hunt.
We’re drawing on the historic art of egg decorating, which was recorded in England as early as 1290. Partnering with six of the country’s best-loved children’s illustrators, we’ve produced six one-off eggs inspired by our historic places.
Now we’re giving you the chance to win one of these unique, one-off designs. All you have to do is visit one of our Adventure Quests over the Easter weekend and search for a hidden chicken token. Tokens have been hidden at random at just six of the 21 places hosting the quest across the country. If you’re lucky enough to find the token, you can redeem it for your prize by our on-site staff on the day.
But before you get cracking, get to know our illustrators and discover the stories that inspired each of their designs. In their own words, our illustrators explain the meaning behind their egg.
Meet the illustrators
Ian is a seasoned illustrator whose credits include Philip Pullman’s Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp and the Just So Stories.
I grew up in the 1950s at Hove on the south coast. As a boy with my fellow cub scouts, we used to cycle to various places of historical interest. We especially liked the ruins at Bramber Castle and Battle Abbey, with its Norman abbey and especially the battlefield site. There it was easy to imagine the past, the soldiers and archers and the clash of swords and armour.
‘When I was offered the chance to make a design for a ceramic Easter egg for English Heritage, Battle stood out for me on the list. I did my best to echo the design style of the marvelous Bayeux Tapestry which I have visited twice now with my children. I thought that I would put Easter eggs where the weapons once were as if the invaders for once were bearing gifts.
Trisha is the illustrator of books including Maude, The Not So Noticeable Shrimpton and the author-illustrator of Charlotte’s Very Own Dress.
Nothing would make me happier than receiving a Fabergé Egg for Easter. Since the chances of this happening are slim, I have created a Fabergé inspired egg and called it, ‘The Victoria Egg’. My design inspiration comes from a combination of two imperial eggs: ‘The Catherine the Great Egg’ and ‘The Rosebud Egg’. One is decorated with intricate cameo style allegorical scenes and the other has vertical bands of diamonds and rubies. I incorporated these elements into my design to frame my illustrations.
At the centre of the egg there is the Pavilion at Wrest Park and, on the opposite side, Brodsworth Hall. The Pavilion is classically symmetrical and basked in oriental light. Brodsworth Hall, painted under a grey Yorkshire sky, is a fine example of a Victorian country house.
The wild and dramatic Perseus and Andromeda Fountain at Witley Court is at the base of my egg along with a chimney board of a vase, rich with classical Bacchic scenes. Oval portraits of Madame Isaac de Thellusson and Edward Cecil Guinness surround each side of the egg. Madame de Thellusson was chosen for her vibrancy and beauty while Edward Cecil Guinness was chosen because of his great contribution of art to the nation.
Polly is the creator of Tilly and Friends, a book series and programme on CBeebies as well as the author-illustrator of several children’s stories including A Lion is a Lion and Penguin.
One of my happiest childhood memories is hunting for Easter eggs in our back garden, so the idea of an egg hunt across the English Heritage sites sounds brilliant. I chose to represent Walmer Castle on my egg – for me, it’s the ‘castle of castles’.
It took a bit of head scratching to work out how to make it nicely egg-shaped, but I knew I wanted the moat to wrap all the way around. On separate layers, I drew a knight in shining armour and a young maiden using pencil, crayons and watercolour. I wanted my egg to have a bit of fairytale feel.
It’s so special that just one of each of these eggs will exist and I imagine the illustrators’ designs will all be very different. I hope the child who finds this egg loves it, but most of all I hope everybody enjoys the hunt… can I join in?
Grahame Baker Smith
Grahame is an iconic illustrator for a number of picture books and is the author of the illustrated story, FArTHER.
First I’d like to say how thrilled I was to be asked to create a design for the English Heritage Easter events. I was even more thrilled when I realised that one of the properties the charity looks after is Down House, the home of Charles Darwin. I have a great interest in the history of life on earth. This seemed a wonderful opportunity to create something that was inspired by both the shape and purpose of the egg itself and Darwin’s world-changing theories of evolution.
The first complete fossil of the Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1861, two years after the publication of On the Origin of Species. Darwin himself considered this to be one of the most important fossil finds ever made illuminating, as it does, an important transition between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. I thought it would be fun to create a design as if you were looking through the shell to the Archaeopteryx chick cradled inside. As all eggs are date-stamped these days, I included a date on the back of the shell that corresponds to the late Jurassic period, when Archaeopteryx lived.
I would like to wish all the children taking part in the Easter events at any of the wonderful English Heritage properties around the country the very best of luck and a fun day out. I hope that whoever wins the Archaeopteryx egg will enjoy it for many years to come.
Lydia is a best-selling illustrator and a collaborator of a number of Julia Donaldson books including What the Ladybird Heard Next and Mungo Monkey.
I was really excited to be asked to design an egg for English Heritage. I am very lucky to live near some amazing English Heritage properties; Bolsover Castle, Brodsworth Hall, Hardwick Old Hall, and my most favourite, Wingfield Manor.
I thought about trying to fit one of these buildings on my egg, but it proved to be a bit tricky! Eggs are a funny shape! So I thought instead about visitors like me. Visitors who might visit a castle and imagine what it was like to be a knight or a great lady, like Bess of Hardwick. I love thinking about the people who were there way before us, and what their lives would have been like.
Good luck with your egg hunt, and if you win my egg, I hope you like it! Look out for that ladybird!
Olivia Lomenech Gill
Olivia is a renowned illustrator including for J. K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
I chose Warkworth Castle because, quite simply, it’s the site most local to where I live. As an artist, I make my work from life, so it was very important for me to be able to visit and draw on a site.
Decorated eggs have their own history of course and I was thinking about how to avoid making an egg that looked derivative, or purely ‘decorative’. But at the same time I wanted to make something that was festive and with reference to the religious significance of Easter. Rather than depicting Warkworth as a sort of historical illustration, I wanted to bring it to life somehow. I don’t know if I have managed to achieve what I set out to do, but what I chose to do in the end was to focus on the creatures that feature so much in medieval architecture and imagery. This was perhaps partly influenced by the fact that I recently finished illustrating JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and indeed, I love animals of all kinds so this was a good excuse to do some more!
To the existing beasts (which I chose to depict as real beasts rather than stylised heraldic ones), I added a lamb, for Easter and to signify peace; a Chillingham Bull, from the nearby herd of Chillingham Cattle; a Unicorn, by way of a ‘magical horse’ and representative of the Grey Mare Tower; and the large number of horses stabled at Warkworth. The stag is a reference to the famous ballad of ‘The Battle of Otterburn’ or the Chevy Chase, which are sort of related to the Percy family if not the castle of Warkworth.
Find an Easter Adventure Quest near you
Search our events and find an Easter Adventure Quest for your chance to win one of our ‘Eggsclusive Eggs’.
Read our terms and conditions for the Eggsclusive Egg competition.