National Trust to allow life back into properties

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire (Image: National Trust / Rupert Truman)

In an important change of policy, the National Trust has decided to lift some of the many restrictions which had led to criticisms that it was being too museum-like in it’s approach to its wonderful country houses.  The new strategy is designed to give visitors more of flavour of how a house might have been used when it was a home. 

This vision was inspired, at least in part, by the experience of the NT chairman Simon Jenkins, when visiting Chatsworth House in Derbyshire which is still the family home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire as well as one of the finest homes in private ownership in Europe.  Visitors often find that the Duchess has joined them and rooms show the momentoes and items found in any home.

The NT accepts that this will increase the wear-and-tear on the properties and inevitably some mistakes will be made. The expertise and experience of the Trust should ensure that the correct controls are still in place where appropriate as no-one wants to see damage to delicate fabrics, books or paintings. The new atmosphere of exploration and freedom will hopefully enhance the visitors experience and allow them to appreciate the house as it was intended to be; as a home.

Full story: ‘Welcome to Britain’s stately home from homes‘ [The Times]

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About Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

An amateur architectural historian with a particular love of UK country houses in all their many varied and beautiful forms.
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2 Responses to National Trust to allow life back into properties

  1. Andrew says:

    Lecture – Sir Simon Jenkins will give a talk on ‘The Great House in the 21st Century’ on Tuesday 26 October 2010 at 7pm at the Royal Geographical Society in London, near the Royal Albert Hall (http://www.wmf.org.uk/activities). Sir Simon has been Chairman of the National Trust since 2008, Deputy Chairman of English Heritage 1985-90, author of ‘England’s Thousand Best Houses’ in 2003-4 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0141006250) and Editor of The Times newspaper 1990-2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Jenkins). This event is being organised by the World Monuments Fund Britain and the National Trust, so may include discussion of their tandem projects on Stowe House (http://www.wmf.org.uk/projects/view/stowe) and gardens (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowegardens) in Buckinghamshire. Sir Simon is a man who practices what he preaches, having lived periodically at Albany House in London’s Piccadilly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albany_(London)) next door to the Royal Academy’s Burlington House (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burlington_House), for example http://residentialsearch.savills.co.uk/property-detail/L36054 and http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-16261413.html.

  2. Andrew says:

    The National Trust’s AGM on 30 October had a heated debate on the Trust’s new strategy of ‘bringing houses to life’, but finally supported it by a large margin. Referred to as ‘Disneyfication’ by its critics, including John Goodall, Architectural Editor of Country Life magazine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Goodall_(author)), it was defended by Dr Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces (http://www.lucyworsley.com):
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8098929/National-Trust-members-clash-over-Disneyfication-of-properties.html
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1325569/National-Trust-looks-Disney-chairman-Simon-Jenkins-enflames-critics.html

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