Lottery throws lifeline to decaying family seat
National Heritage Bill paves way to aid private owners with upkeep of historic homes
Saturday 26 October 1996
The bill widens the range of heritage projects eligible for support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) and opens up the prospect of lottery money being spent on the upkeep of historic houses in private ownership.
The Reynolds' home, Leigh-ton Hall, near Lancaster, is a likely candidate. Visited by some 30,000 people a year, the neo-Gothic mansion has been in Mr Reynolds' family for nearly 300 years. His ancestors were the furniture makers, Gillow, whose business spread from Lancaster to become a European market-leader in the last century.
But Mr Reynolds does not command such wealth and for the last 20 years has battled to keep the house, with 65 rooms, from cellars to attics, in good repair. English Heritage has helped out as he has dealt with two outbreaks of dry rot and rendered the walls.
Another year of work remains to be done on the outer walls and then the roof has to be done. He thinks English Heritage might fund 40 per cent of the cost but that would still leave pounds 60,000 to be found.
"I just haven't got it," Mr Reynolds said. "We haven't got a Rubens on the wall or anything like that and there is no way that the estate could support the house."
Leighton Hall is noted for its collection of Gillow furniture and its setting in a bowl of parkland sloping down towards Morecambe Bay with the Lakeland hills in the distance.
It is possible Mr Reynolds will not get a penny of lottery money. Richard Wilkin, director general of the Historic Houses Association, representing 1,400 private owners, welcomed the bill but pointed out that its aims were far wider, including townscape schemes and repairs to theatres.
Both Mr Wilkin and NHMF are keenly aware of the sensitivities the bill could arouse in opening up lottery money to private owners of stately homes, land, or possibly shops in townscape schemes. Last year, the fund provoked a furore when it used pounds 13m of lottery money to purchase the Churchill archive.
NHMF emphasised that the prime criterion would be "public benefit, not private gain". Lottery money would be available where there would be improved public access to sites and also for educational projects and exhibitions.
But the pot of money will be no bigger and is already over-subscribed. The fund gets pounds 260m a year from the lottery. It has made 500 grants worth pounds 280m and has demands for over pounds 1.5bn in the pipeline.
Two-thirds of England's historic properties, large and small, are in private or commercial hands.
The Government's acknowledgement of their role in preserving built heritage stands in sharp contrast to the Tory stance of a decade ago, when Nicholas Ridley advised nouveaux pauvres to sell up.
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Hermann Goering's daughter fails to reclaim items looted by Nazi deputy during WWII
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...