Yesterday seventy years ago the London Blitz began. Between 7 September and 2 November 1940 the city was bombed every single day or night.
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.
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.
It was only the sale of Mentmore Towers and its contents in 1977 that reinvigorated the debate about funding for heritage.
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.
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.