National trust

The Spectator’s Notes | 6 April 2017

Cadbury and the National Trust stand accused of taking the Easter out of Easter eggs. The Trust’s ‘Easter Egg Trail’ is now renamed the ‘Cadbury Egg Hunt’. My little theory about the National Trust is that all its current woes result from the tyranny of success: it has become so attached to ever-growing membership (now more than four million) that everything is skewed to this and the original purposes are neglected. No doubt the substitution of the word ‘Easter’ by the word ‘Cadbury’ seemed a small price to pay for big sponsorship. This decision is a symptom of the Trust’s problem. But for the fate of Easter itself, one need not

Charles Moore

The National Trust is compromised by its own success

Cadbury and the National Trust stand accused of taking the Easter out of Easter eggs. The Trust’s ‘Easter Egg Trail’ is now renamed the ‘Cadbury Egg Hunt’. My little theory about the National Trust is that all its current woes result from the tyranny of success: it has become so attached to ever-growing membership (now more than four million) that everything is skewed to this and the original purposes are neglected. No doubt the substitution of the word ‘Easter’ by the word ‘Cadbury’ seemed a small price to pay for big sponsorship. This decision is a symptom of the Trust’s problem. But for the fate of Easter itself, one need not

Could Health and Safety kill off home cooking?

If Health and Safety is (are?) your thing, you must always be dreaming, like Alexander the Great, of new worlds to conquer. The next one, I predict, will be cooking at home. Recently I have noticed talk about the bad effect of ‘particles’ produced by hot food cooked in or on ovens. The sequence will go thus: a study will prove that people who cook at home inhale more particles than others, reducing their life expectancy. A woman seeking divorce will win a higher settlement because, she says, she was forced to spend hours of each day in such dangerous culinary conditions, suffering various ‘harms’. Then it will be shown

Letters | 16 March 2017

Pope Francis’s mission Sir: Despite Damian Thompson’s intimations (‘The plot against the Pope’, 11 March), Pope Francis is going nowhere except onwards and upwards. Jorge Bergoglio has a loving family background which gives him a mature, balanced personality. He is gifted with a fine, open mind, underpinned by an Ignatian spirituality which reminds him of his sinfulness and his constant need for God’s grace. He also has vast experience of the pastoral ministry in the Buenos Aires slums. No doubt there is a ‘Borgia’ element in the Vatican. This lust for power is not at all what the crucified Christ encouraged in His disciples. As the Pope presses on with

How the National Trust is spoiling its treasures

Osterley Park on the western fringes of London is a rare survival. A Robert Adam house, with splendid Adam interiors, it’s still surrounded by its Elizabethan stables, an 18th-century landscape and classical follies — in the middle of urban Hounslow. Over the past decade, this Georgian gem has been increasingly despoiled and dumbed down by the National Trust. The Trust is spending £356,000 to turn Osterley Park into a child-friendly leisure centre. As one of the huge posters strapped to the park fence says, the money will pay for ‘A new skills area for young families providing kids with a safe place to learn to cycle and gain confidence’. Why

Dumbing down the house

Osterley Park on the western fringes of London is a rare survival. A Robert Adam house, with splendid Adam interiors, it’s still surrounded by its Elizabethan stables, an 18th-century landscape and classical follies — in the middle of urban Hounslow. Over the past decade, this Georgian gem has been increasingly despoiled and dumbed down by the National Trust. The Trust is spending £356,000 to turn Osterley Park into a child-friendly leisure centre. As one of the huge posters strapped to the park fence says, the money will pay for ‘A new skills area for young families providing kids with a safe place to learn to cycle and gain confidence’. Why

A model village

From ‘Sir Thomas Acland’s example’, The Spectator, 3 March 1917: In 1912 we discussed the idea — a favourite dream of ours — that some characteristic English village, perfect of its kind but likely to lose its quality in the hugger-mugger expansions of modern enterprise, might be acquired by the National Trust to be kept forever as a specimen, in a changing world, of what used to be… Men freely give pictures and collections of china and plate and furniture to the nation. Why not the grouped architectural works of man? Why, too, should not open pieces of country be given as often as pictures and bronzes and statues?  

Breach of Trust

Ever since it was founded in 1895, the National Trust has been considered a good thing. That oak tree sticker on the windscreen isn’t just a passport to some of the country’s finest heritage. It is a middle class status symbol declaring that you are cultured, a lover of the bucolic, someone who’d rather their children went out collecting tadpoles and tramping round nature reserves than staying in glued to an iPad. But the Trust, originally set up to ensure ‘the preservation for the benefit of the nation of lands and tenements of beauty or historic interest’ seems to have abandoned at least one of the laudable aims that made

The National Trust is on a mission to Disney-fy Britain

The latest National Trust row highlights a depressing truth: the Trust is rapidly becoming a mammoth eco-warrior, rather than the preserver of historic houses and beautiful landscapes it is meant to be. It’s just paid £200,000 over the guide price to buy land at Thorneythwaite Farm, Borrowdale in the Lake District, without buying the old farmhouse that went with it. Bang go the chances of a sheep-farmer buying the land and the farmhouse. And now the 300 acres of land enter into the National Trust’s Disney-fied version of the countryside, where the eco-religion holds sway – at the expense of the farming practices that have carved out our exceptionally beautiful landscape. Chief

Letters | 18 August 2016

Losing game Sir: Matt Ridley is completely right (‘Don’t grouse about grouse’, 13 August). I am lucky enough to live at Blakeney in north Norfolk with a clear view to Blakeney Point. But since the RSPB, Chris Packham and the National Trust got their hands on Blakeney, things have changed dramatically. I walk every day on and around the marshes and the Blakeney Freshes. This morning — a brilliant, calm day — I strolled for an hour and apart from a couple of warblers, crows and several black-backed gulls, that was it. When my wife and I came to Blakeney 35 years ago it was markedly different. From our room

Tanya Gold

Magic at St Michael’s Mount

The Sail Loft is under a castle on a mountain on an island in the sea; for that, I could forgive it anything. It is on St Michael’s Mount in Marazion near Penzance, an island so charming and devoid of internet connection it almost strips me of words. If I lived here I would not write again; I would not need to. I would be happy, and who judges fish when they are happy and finds it not enough? It is accessible along a granite causeway for four hours each day — then the path goes back to the sea and one must take a boat; it is more ruthless

A touch of class | 7 July 2016

Cliveden is a good review for a divided country and I have waited, not too long, for it to feel resonant for Spectator readers; it aches with class-consciousness. It has food pens dependent on your status — whether you are eating in the National Trust grounds, or the swanky (I love this word; it’s so bitter) hotel inside the ‘manor’. And even if you are staying in the swanky manor, famous as the venue where John Profumo exploited the not-recovering child-abuse victim Christine Keeler — don’t call me a sighing Guardianista, I have done my research and she once aborted a child with a pen — in a swimming pool,

Sea sound

It’s often not visual images that stimulate memory but a smell, a taste, the sound of pebbles crashing on to the beach, ice cream being scooped into a cone, seagulls circling overhead. Where was I when I first heard that sound? That’s why the National Trust (in association with the British Library sound archive) has just announced its Coastal Sounds of our Shores campaign. We are all invited to send in our own audio recordings from the beach: short, five-minute clips, impressions taken outdoors, in real time, which capture what the seaside means to us. Not photos, or postcards, but an online archive of sound memories. Interpreting our surroundings through

Museum relic

On 1 July, at a swanky party at Tate Modern, one of Britain’s museums will bank a cheque for £100,000, as the Art Fund announces this year’s Museum of the Year. Sure, the money will come in handy. Sure, the publicity will be useful. But this posh bunfight can’t disguise a growing sense that museums face an existential crisis. Cuts are one problem — some say the present round will take museums ‘back to the 1960s’. But they also face a more profound dilemma. In the age of Wikipedia and Google Images, what are modern museums actually for? When I was a child museums were my adventure playgrounds, but was

The National Trust is spoiling beautiful places in the name of people who’ll never visit them

Broadhaven Beach in Pembrokeshire was once a sublime combination of the works of nature and man. The broad, deep, sandy bay is flanked by towering limestone cliffs. Two hundred years ago, a stream leading to the sea was dammed by Lord Cawdor, the then owner, to form the Bosherston Lily Ponds. Enter the National Trust, owners of the estate since 1976. Now the spot where the lakes meet the sea is marked with a bright purple National Trust sign, saying, Return to the start, a new path you’ll take Its rocky in places, don’t fall in the lake. Perhaps it’s better in the Welsh translation, also featured on the purple

Who are you calling a blob, Owen Paterson?

Why did David Cameron send Owen Paterson to Environment if he meant to sack him? Paterson knew and cared about his subject. He wore green wellies with panache, loathed Europe and wind turbines, and argued with everyone. He was a sop to the shires and a bulwark against Ukip. Yet like his colleague Michael Gove, he was found to be ‘toxic’. He has told the Sunday Telegraph that he blames his downfall on the ‘green blob’, on ‘highly paid, globe-trotting, anti-capitalist agitprop’. Paterson had discovered that the toughest job in government nowadays is no longer foreign affairs or defence, awash in grand crises, whirling dervishes and expensive kit. A Middle

Spectator letters: America as a genetic experiment, and a gypsy reply to Rod Liddle

The American experiment Sir: One can test Nicholas Wade’s hypothesis that social and political life is genetically determined (‘The genome of history’, 17 May) by constituting a nation along European lines, admitting immigrants from all over the world, and measuring the extent to which these immigrants assimilate to the dominant culture. That experiment is called the USA, and the evidence from that country suggests that within a generation or two these immigrants hold social opinions more like those of other Americans than natives of their ancestral countries. Cultural inheritance therefore outweighs genetic inheritance in the political sphere, and historians may rest easy. Dr James McEvoy Centre for Biomedical Sciences, Royal

National Trust trusting in green dogma

Strange happenings at a place that many people think of as one of Britain’s National Treasures: the National Trust. As we point out in our leading article this week, the Trust and their director-general, Dame Helen Ghosh, seem to have done a 360 on fracking. Last year, Dame Helen had an ‘open mind’ when it came to fracking. But in an interview with the Guardian this week, Dame Helen revealed that she has turned her back on shale. She explained that the decision was made because: ‘We don’t believe anyone understands the environmental impacts, and because we as far as possible would want to avoid anything that encourages the continued use

Folly de Grandeur, by Nicky Haslam- review

Nicky Haslam is one of our best interior designers, a charmed and charming agent of style, a tastemaker for the sometimes directionless rich, a brighter star than most of his astronomically stellar client list. Considering a joint project, I asked him over lunch to tell me all the amazing people he had met. He demurred, but later that afternoon I got a 20-page handwritten document and on page one the names included John Kennedy, Svetlana Stalin, Picasso and Elvis. But Nicky is perhaps better known to Spectator readers as a contributor of meticulous, gossipy, beautifully crafted, super-well-informed and often rather saucy accounts of what used to be called high society.

The Spectator’s Notes | 21 March 2013

There is supposed to be a Leveson Part II, although everyone has forgotten about it. As well as telling him to look into everything bad about newspapers (‘Please could you clean the Augean stables by Friday, Hercules’), David Cameron also asked Lord Justice Leveson to investigate who did what when over phone-hacking. This was postponed because of the forthcoming criminal trials, but I mention it because it is a reminder that things are back to front. Normally when you have an inquiry, you first work out what happened and then you work out what to do about it. Leveson is the opposite, hence the resulting chaos. The problem is particularly