In this post, the first in an occasional series about the people involved in the acquisition process, I want to feature the property manager. At the historic houses and estates of the National Trust the property manager more or less takes on the role that the owner would have had in the past – although, for better or for worse, he or she has to do without the deference and the priviledged lifestyle.
The content of the job varies enormously from property to property. A manager might run a group of small properties, or a large single property that includes an agricultural estate and perhaps even a village. At some properties the focus is on the architecture of the main house and its contents, while at others the garden or park might be the most important element. Different properties attract different types of visitors.
But in all cases the property manager has overall responsibility for the running of the place: from car parks, ticket sales and building maintenance to tea rooms, volunteers and concerts. Because of their key role, people like Michael Smith at Croome Court and Sian Harrington at Osterley Park are always involved in the discussion about a potential acquisition.
Each acquisition is decided on its merits. The criteria to be considered include the intrinsic importance of the object, its relevance to the house and estate, whether it can be suitably and safely displayed, what its condition is and whether funds can be found to meet the costs involved.