Newby Hall’s Teddy Bears

Many of us have or had much loved teddy bears, but few become serious collectors of them like UK tv presenter Giles Brandreth, who is one of the most famous arctophile, or collector of them. This is from the i  paper:

The 68-year-old says. “You have to have a sense of humour and a big heart to love a teddy.” He is speaking while on a visit to Newby Hall, near Ripon in North Yorkshire, to inspect the new home being built for his collection of more than 1,000 teddy bears.

Opening to the public on Saturday, The Bear House includes some of the world’s most famous teddies. The big names include the original Fozzie bear from The Muppet Show, a Sooty used by Harry Corbett in the 1950s, the first Pudsey and the “real” Paddington.

“I met Jim Henson in the 1980s when I was at TV-AM and told him about my teddies,” Brandreth says. “He said I could have Fozzie and I said thank you, thinking he’d forget about it after he got back to America. Then this enormous box arrived and there it was, the original Fozzie, made in 1963 before Sesame Street started.

Brandreth’s own childhood teddy, Growler, sparked his interest in bears. He started collecting when he was a teenager and was later spurred on by his son Benet, and his daughters Aphra and Saethryd.

His collection includes some other impressive gifts. Rowan Atkinson gave him Mr Bean’s knitted teddy. There’s Lynton, owned by Tony Blair; Francois, the late French President Mitterand’s bear; and Ragged, who was loved by actor Richard Briers and generations of his family.

the move to Newby Hall happened when Brandreth was sent by BBC1’s The One show to interview Richard Compton, the present incumbent. “We got talking and I mentioned my bears and Richard kindly offered them a home here,” he says. “I discovered this beautiful house was where the King and Queen would have been moved to in the event of an invasion during the Second World War and I thought: “If it is fit for a king, it’s fit for my bears.”

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