Key people: The property manager


Michael Smith, Property Manager at Croome Court. ©NTPL/Layton Thompson

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. 

Croome Court, Worcestershire, in its park designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

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. 

Sian Harrington, Property Manager at Osterley Park. ©NTPL/Matthew Antrobus

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. 

Osterley Park, Middlesex, with its portico inserted by Robert Adam into the earlier, Elizabethan house. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

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.

4 Responses to “Key people: The property manager”

  1. columnist Says:

    Where can I sign up to manage a property?

    The Robert Adam insertion at Osterley is indeed odd, and somehow makes the building rather fake – as if it was a reproduction of something that one might find at a theme park. It’s very difficult to say this about one of my favourite architects and designers, (Adam), but I rather wished he’d left it to its Elizabethan glories!

  2. columnist Says:

    Having said that of course, the interiors are spectacular, and as NT notes, they are perhaps the best examples of his work.

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    I am sure you would make an excellent property manager, except you would have to restrain the impulse to have glamorous candles in the dining room :). But seriously, for anyone interested in NT jobs, they are listed here:

    Yes the architecture at Osterley is a curious mixture, but it did lead to Adam designing the amazing ‘transparent portico’, which even someone as critical as Horace Walpole professed to admiring.

  4. columnist Says:

    Thanks. I was half joking, but I will explore it further, for fun. Yes, the Walpoles were no slouches with their commissions either, Robert at Houghton, and Horace at Strawberry Hill.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: