Letter: In defence of stately homes

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The Independent Online
Sir: As an active member of the National Trust, I was horrified by the insulting tone of your leading article 'Hooked on stately homes' (8 October). The barbs aimed at Angus Stirling and the 'humdrum' property owners were obvious, but your readers may not notice the implied insults aimed at NT members and those who devote time, energy and money to supporting the trust and enhancing the visitor's appreciation.

As someone who has some knowledge of those who visit trust properties, I can assure you that we are not 'forelock-tugging' peasants lined up to goggle at the 'nobs'. We visit for much the same reasons that we go to the theatre, concerts or museums. Perhaps you consider these activities equally reprehensible.

Your final paragraph, which equates us 'voyeurs' with Luddites and Europhobes, seems to belong to Miles Kington's article below, though couched in more satirical terms.

May I recommend that you study the stories of some of the 'humdrum' owners who have struggled desperately to hand over their properties to the trust? Look at the efforts of the last of the Ferrers at Baddesley Clinton or of Philip Yorke at Erddig. These owners, with nothing to gain for themselves, knew the worth of their property to those of us who can now enjoy it.

I was deeply saddened by the fate of Pitchford, having been fortunate to see it intact. I wholly support Mr Stirling's endorsement of the proposal - which is not new - that there should be some tax relief on the maintenance of these properties. It seems that this would only be good 'housekeeping', as it would hold down the ultimate cost of taking the properties 'into trust'.

Yours sincerely,

D. C. EASTWOOD

Thurlaston, Warwickshire

8 October

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