Archive for the ‘Donor families’ Category

Living (and filming) at Antony

March 26, 2010


©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Antony, near Torpoint in Cornwall, has been the ancestral home of the Carew family ever since Sir William Carew began to build it in 1720. In 1961 Sir John Carew Pole gave Antony to the National Trust, with an endowment for its upkeep, but by mutual agreement he continued to live in the house, as does his son, Sir Richard, with his wife Lady Mary, today.

Evidence of family occupation at Antony. ©NTPL/Cristian Barnett

Donor families remain in residence at a number of National Trust properties. This helps to preserve the historical continuity of the place, and to prevent it becoming too museum-like. At Antony the Carew Poles have not only worked with the Trust to open the house to visitors, but they have also commissioned contemporary art and developed the garden.

Cheshire Cat? Detail on an eighteenth-century table at Antony. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Recently the Carew Poles and the Trust staff at Antony were joined by Tim Burton and his crew who came to borrow the house and garden as an evocative set for the new Alice in Wonderland film.  

The track along which Alice runs, in the Woodland Garden at Antony. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

An article on the filming at Antony has appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of the National Trust Magazine. To celebrate the film the gardens will be turned into a wonderland this season, with wondrous installations, mysterious trails and Mad Hatter tea parties.

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.