Letter: Lord Scarsdale's views on his family seat

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Sir: While I cannot speak about events prior to my appointment as the National Trust's architect at Kedleston Hall in 1990, my own experience of working with the National Trust and with Lord Scarsdale since then is markedly different from the impression given by the report of Lord Scarsdale's interview on local radio ('Viscount accuses National Trust of vandalism', 11 August). I have observed first hand the extent to which the Trust's staff consult Lord Scarsdale regularly about even quite minor matters and his views are welcomed and valued.

Inevitably - and understandably - Lord Scarsdale does not necessarily agree with everything that is done at Kedleston, but he has warmly applauded much of the work undertaken there in the last seven years. This includes repairing leaking roofs, overdue conservation work to the contents, redecoration of showrooms and substantial landscape improvements to the park, as well as more mundane matters such as remedying defective drains and installing fire and intruder alarm systems. The repair of the semi- derelict 18th-century Sulphur Bath House in the Park, now nearing completion, is one of a number of projects for which Lord Scarsdale has expressed enthusiastic support.

One of the Trust's problems in acquiring the property was that some of the collection had already been dispersed, making it difficult to retain the layers of family history. The arrangement today is an attempt to make sense of the collection which remained.

This contrasts with nearby Calke Abbey, where the accretion of possessions that demonstrate the personal taste of each generation remains, and has, of course, been kept intact by the National Trust. To compensate for this lack at Kedleston, the Trust is establishing a museum of family memorabilia - hardly a case of ignoring the family history, of which the Trust stands accused.

Yours faithfully,

RODNEY MELVILLE

Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

12 August

(Photograph omitted)

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