Archive for the ‘NHMF’ Category

Brueghel to stay at Nostell

January 6, 2011

Image Robert Thrift

I have just heard the wonderful news that sufficient funds have been raised  for the National Trust to acquire the Nostell Brueghel. The National Heritage Memorial Fund provided the final £1,034,000 towards the £2.7m purchase price. 

Image Robert Thrift

Members of the public donated £680,000 to the campaign and £510,000 was contributed by trusts and foundations. Special plaudits should go to the Art Fund, which not only gave a grant of £500,000, but also contributed its fundraising expertise. This has been an excellent example of charities working together to achieve a common goal.

The National Gallery and York Art Gallery have been showing the painting for the last few months, but it will shortly return to Nostell Priory, where it will be on display from the end of February. See here for previous posts about the Brueghel.

100 years of AIL

December 22, 2010

1947: Cotehele, Cornwall. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

David Lloyd George’s controversial ‘People’s Budget’ of 1910 included a number of measures aimed at taxing Britain’s landed classes. It also contained a clause allowing inheritance tax to be settled by the transfer of heritage assets.

1952: Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

Initially the scheme, now known as Acceptance in Lieu (AIL), was slow to take off because of the Treasury’s insistence that the loss of revenue had to be made up from other sources. 

1953: Castle Ward, Co Down. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

After the Second World War, however, the National Land Fund was established, as a ‘thank-you offering for victory’, and this was used to compensate the Treasury and thereby enable transfers in lieu of tax. The land, houses and chattels accepted by the Governement were then transferred to appropriate museums or heritage bodies.

1954: Petworth, West Sussex. ©NTPL/John Miller

The first country house to be allocated to the National Trust through AIL was Cotehele in Cornwall.

1956: Ickworth, Suffolk. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

In 1957 the Treasury withdrew part of the capital of the National Land Fund, and again the scheme seemed to falter.

1957: Saltram, Devon. ©NTPL/Rupert Truman

In 1976 Mentmore Towers with its magnificent contents was offered to the nation by the Earl of Rosebery for £2m, but the Treasury considered the price excessive and the deal fell through. Mentmore and its contents were subsequently sold at auction through Sotheby’s for £6.25m, showing how advantageous the initial offer would have been.

1959: Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

The resulting public outcry led to the transformation of the Land Fund into the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the strengthening of the funding framework for the AIL process.

1965: Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

Country houses accepted in lieu and allocated to the National Trust include Cotehele (1947), Penrhyn Castle (1952), Mount Grace Priory (1953), Castle Ward (1953), Petworth House (1954), Ickworth (1956), Saltram (1957), Hardwick Hall (1959), Shugborough, (1965), Cragside (1977), Calke Abbey (1985) and Seaton Delaval Hall (2009).

1977: Cragside, Northumberland. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Over the years the National Trust has also received large numbers of works of art and other objects relevant to its historic houses through the AIL scheme. The value of these over the last ten years (excluding Seaton Delaval and its contents) was £21,645,000.

1985: Calke Abbey, Derbyshire. ©NTPL/Rupert Truman

The National Trust would never have been able to acquire all of these historic chattels from its own resources.

2009: Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The current Government is placing greater emphasis on the benefits of private philanthropy. In view of the succes of AIL it would seem to make eminent sense, when public finances permit, to widen the scheme to include lifetime giving.

A Breenbergh returns to Belton

December 1, 2010

Landscape with figures bathing near classical ruins, by Bartolomeus Breenbergh. ©Sotheby's

Yesterday we bought a painting at auction at Sotheby’s Amsterdam that was sold from Belton House in 1984.

Belton House seen across the Italian Garden. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

At that time Belton was being acquired by the National Trust with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. However, there were not enough funds to purchase all of the contents of the house, and some of them were dispersed at auction, including this painting.

Classical ruins with Christ and the woman of Samaria, by Bartholomeus Breenbergh, at Ham House, Surrey. ©NTPL/John Hammond

It is by Bartolomeus Breenbergh (1598-1657), a Dutch painter who spent time in Rome and developed a style of landscape painting that usually included classical ruins. Indeed, ruins became such a part of the Breenbergh ‘brand’ that he even included them in scenes from the Old and New testaments.

King Charles I owned no less than six Breenberghs, one of which ended up at Ham House, and is still in its early seventeenth-century frame.

The Red Drawing Room at Belton, showing some of the old master paintings still at Belton. ©NTPL/Mark Fiennes

In 1984 the Belton Breenbergh still had its ‘Belton’ frame, which many of the pictures there were fitted with. After being sold from the house it was given a new, seventeenth-century Dutch-style frame, which the new owner must have thought looked more authentic. The painting will now have a Belton-style frame made for it once again before it goes on display.

Birds in a garden, by Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636-95), at Belton. ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

The Breenbergh originally came to Belton as part of the inheritance of Frances Bankes (1756-1847), who married Sir Brownlow Cust, 1st Baron Brownlow (1744-1807). Her father, Sir Henry Bankes (1714-1774), was a wealthy London merchant who assembled a substantial collection of Continental paintings.

The Hondecoeter Room, with paintings by Jan Weenix the Younger and Melchior de Hondecoeter. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The acquisition of the Breenbergh for Belton was supported by the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

Lest we forget

September 8, 2010

Aerial view of Tyntesfield from the west. ©NTPL/Steve Stephens

Yesterday seventy years ago the London Blitz began. Between 7 September and 2 November 1940 the city was bombed every single day or night.

The east front of Tyntesfield. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Remembering the tragedies of history is just as important as remembering its glories – and indeed they are inextricably linked. That was the inspiration behind the National Land Fund, which was set up in 1946 with the proceeds from the sale of surplus war materiel.

The entrance hall. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Its aim was to purchase nationally important land and buildings as ‘a thank-offering for victory and a war-memorial which many would think finer than any work of art in stone of bronze’. However, the fund was initially little used.

The hall with the main staircase. ©NTPL/Steve Stephens

It was only the sale of Mentmore Towers and its contents in 1977 that reinvigorated the debate about funding for heritage.

The library. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

In 1980 the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up which inherited the Land Fund capital and was given a remit to acquire, maintain or preserve any land, building or structure, or any object or collection which is of outstanding scenic, historic, aesthetic, architectural, scientific, or artistic interest.

The dining room. ©NTPL/Steve Stephens

In the 30 years since then, the National Trust has received over £73 million in grants from the NHMF. Many projects would have been impossible without the NHMF’s support.

One of those projects was the acquisition of Tyntesfield, the Victorian country house and estate in North Somerset, which was purchased with almost all of its contents in 2002 – saved in memory of the sacrifices made during the Second World War.

Eastern approaches

July 29, 2010

The Chinese temple at Biddulph Grange. ©NTPL/Ian Shaw

I’m off to a garden history summer course – back next Thursday. It’s an Ashridge course called Eastern Approaches, about the various oriental influences on British garden design.

©NTPL/Ian Shaw

We will be visiting Kew (the pagoda by Chambers), Sezincote (an Indian-style country house), Fanhams (a Japanese-style garden), Nymans and Exbury (both full of exotic rarities), Batsford arboretum and of course the Regency gardens of Ashridge itself.

The 'idol' presiding over the garden. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

These pictures are of the ‘China’ garden at Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire, which we will also be visiting. It was created in the 1840s and 1850s by the wealthy orchid-fancier James Bateman and his friend the artist Edward Cooke. Even as China was becoming better known in Europe, Bateman was content to picture it as a Willow Pattern paradise.

The 'Joss House'. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

When the National Trust acquired the gardens in 1988 with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund it was severely overgrown, and a lot of research and work went into restoring it.

The Dutch connection

July 2, 2010

The Diogenes Room at Dyrham, taking its name from the subject of the tapestries, and also featuring Delft flower pyramids and other vessels. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Dyrham Park, in Gloucestershire, has a variety of Dutch collections. I previously mentioned the Dutch paintings, but there is also a rare collection of seventeenth-century Delft glazed earthenware.

William Blathwayt (?1649-1717) by Michael Dahl. ©NTPL/Ian Blantern

These Delft vessels and flower stands were acquired by William Blathwayt during his travels on the Continent. As a high-ranking official under William III (if a slightly plodding one – he was known as ‘the elephant’) he frequently accompanied the Dutch king on his visits back to Holland.

One of the Delft flower holders at Dyrham. The painted decoration is derived from Chinese models, but the shapes are a Dutch Baroque invention. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The vogue for Delft blue and white was led by the king’s wife and co-regent, Queen Mary II, who assembled a large collection of it in the Water Gallery at Hampton Court Palace, where even the furniture was painted blue and white.

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The displays of flowers in the Delft vases at Dyrham are echoed by the Netherlandish flower paintings in the house.

The State Bed seen in a mirror in the Damask Bedchamber, surrounded by yet more Delft. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The state bed is in the style of Daniel Marot, the architect and designer favoured by William III.

Embossed leather panels in the East Hall. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

William Blathwayt also imported stamped leather wallhangings from Holland. All these elements together create a remarkably Dutch ambiance in the middle of hilly Gloucestershire.

The house and the garden were acquired by the Ministry of Works in 1956 and, following extensive repairs, transferred to the National Trust in 1961. Funds for the acquisition came from the National Land Fund (now the National Heritage Memorial Fund), which had been set up to save places of national importance in memory of the sacrifices of the Second World War.

Visions of the east

March 29, 2010

The Chinese Bedroom at Belton House. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Fellow blogger The Columnist recently featured some sections of Chinese wallpaper (hanging framed on the wall of his dining room) that reminded me of the wallpaper in the Chinese Bedroom at Belton House, Lincolnshire. The wallpaper in the Chinese Bedroom was put up in about 1840, during the tenure of the 1st Earl Brownlow and his third wife, Emma Sophia.  

Detail of the wallpaper in the Chinese bedroom. ©NTPL/Martin Trelawny

The wallpaper itself is older, and was reputedly bought at the sale of another house where it had never been hung.  Some of the birds and butterflies were cut out from unused sections and pasted on, to fill the design out in accordance with contemporary English taste.

The Chinese themselves did not use such wallpapers and they were produced purely for export. The fashion for chinoiserie – or Chinese-style decoration - in the Regency and early Victorian periods was stimulated by the  extravagant interiors of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. 

©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The architecture of Belton represents the English house of the Restoration period in its purest form. When ‘Young Sir John’ Brownlow, 3rd Baronet, came into his inheritance in 1679, he decided to rebuild his family’s country seat in the latest style. Its design was inspired by the recently completed Clarendon House in London’s Piccadilly.

There is a certain continuity to the chinoiserie at Belton. As early as 1691 Young Sir John commissioned two tapestries from the Soho workshop of John Vanderbank which show a beguiling mixture of Chinese, Indian and Turkish elements.

One of the two Soho tapestries in the Chapel Drawing Room at Belton. Acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. ©NTPL/Graham Challifour

Chinoiserie was popular in the Restoration and William and Mary periods because luxurious Far Eastern products such as porcelain, lacquer and silk were becoming increasingly available through trade. At this time China was admired as a sophisticated and rationally organised society. As these tapestries show, however, the English conception of the east was still quite hazy and tinged with make-believe. 

Detail from one of the Soho tapestries. Acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Belton House was given to the National Trust in 1984 by Edward Cust, 7th Baron Brownlow. Thanks to generous grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Trust was also able to purchase the most importants contents of the house, and to set up an endowment fund for the property.

Calke Abbey revisited

March 10, 2010

The chimneypiece in the Drawing Room at Calke Abbey. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Several blogs have been talking about Calke Abbey recently. A few weeks ago I shared some images of the magnificent state bed at Calke with Courtney Barnes. Janet Blyberg then showed us some beautiful pictures taken during her visit to Calke. Now Hannah has quite independently posted her own atmospheric photographs of the house.

Calke Abbey, late nineteenth century, artist unknown. ©NTPL/Christopher Hurst

Hannah mentioned that she had forgotten to photograph the exterior, so I thought I would show an image of it here. I found that we have this nineteenth-century painting on file, artist unknown. It seems to capture the brooding presence of the house in its wooded hollow.

Detail of a scrap screen in Lady Harpur Crewe's Room. ©NTPL/John Hammond

As everyone has been discussing, what strikes you at Calke is the evidence of past generations, the seemingly untouched strata of objects and surfaces.

Geological specimens collected by Sir John Harpur Crewe in the nineteenth century. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Paradoxically, it took a huge amount of work by National Trust curators and conservators to preserve and display the house in this way. The aim was to prevent the building and its contents falling apart altogether, while taking care not to over-restore anything.

Even the objects that are strewn about in apparent disarray have all been inventoried and, if necessary, treated. This is the subterfuge – or, if you like, the magic – of conservation at work. 

Lady Frances Harpur Crewe with her son Henry, the future 7th Baronet, by Tilly Kettle. ©NTPL/Derrick E Witty

This double portrait shows Henry Harpur Crewe (1763-1819) as boy with his mother. Henry was the first of the Harpur Crewes to display the profound reclusiveness that was to characterise succeeding generations of the family.

The wearing of skirts, by the way, was common for small children of both sexes. Janet has recently posted a photograph from the second half of the nineteenth century of a little boy in similar attire.

Most of Sir Henry’s descendants shunned society, preferring the company of their gamekeepers and tennants. Sir John Harpur Crewe (1824-1886) and his son Sir Vauncey (1846-1924) developed a passion for natural history and accumulated a huge and very diverse collection, much of which is still at Calke.

Now where did I put that glass dome? The Drawing Room with its mid-Victorian decoration. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Henry Harpur Crewe (1921-1991), who inherited Calke from his brother, was determined to preserve the house with all its layers of history intact. After an intensive publicity campaign, and following complicated negotiations, the ownership of Calke passed to the National Trust in 1985. 

The estate was accepted by the Government in lieu of tax and handed to the National Trust (about which more in a future post). Grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, from the Historic Buildings Council, a special grant from the Treasury and gifts from many private donors made this rescue a truly national effort.

And so Calke remains suspended in time, reminding us of the mystery of the past.


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