Harry Mount

The tragic demise of the National Trust

(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

And so the National Trust’s crazed attack on its own properties goes blazing on. Their latest self-hating wheeze is to get children to write poems attacking Britain’s history.

One hundred primary school pupils have been taken around the Trust’s country houses before they compose poems about the former owners’ connections with the British Empire. It’s all part of the Trust’s ‘Colonial Countryside’ project, which since 2018 has been highlighting ties between the Trust’s houses and imperialism.

And so, at lovely Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, one child wrote this about the jewelled dress sword and scabbard looted from Lucknow during the Indian mutiny of 1857: ‘Stolen by the English; a freedom sword, a stolen freedom sword.’

In recent years, the Trust can only concentrate on the bad side or the politicised side of its properties

Another poem, about Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, of Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, has been removed from the Trust’s website. That poem read: ‘He thinks he’s strong, trying to take over India.’

The children mustn’t be blamed. They’re only doing what they’re told. But it’s deeply depressing that the Trust is continuing its politicisation, which has now been going on for 20 years. Children — and grown-ups — don’t go to National Trust properties for one-sided, heavily politicised, dumbed-down history lessons.

They go there, first, for pleasure: for the beauty of the Trust’s landscapes; and for the architectural and artistic treasures of their houses.

Before the Trust was politicised 20 years ago, history would be presented in brief, factually correct captions to pictures and short exhibitions about the houses. Those captions and exhibitions didn’t sing the praises of the houses. They just laid out the facts, pure and simple: dates of construction of the houses; who built them; who painted the pictures and made the furniture, and what style they were in.

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