Sackville-West's Study & Turner Paintings Saved For The Nation

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 16 October 2007
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photo of a large Edwardian study

Vita's study in Sissinghurst Castle. Courtesy MLA

The contents of the study of Bloomsbury Group member Vita Sackville-West, in Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, have been saved for the public.

They are among £3m worth of historic items, including two JMW Turner watercolours, which have been transferred to public ownership in lieu of inheritance tax, through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme (AIL).

Sackville-West (1892-1962), gardener and writer, known for her bohemian lifestyle, and famously a lover of Virginia Woolf, created her famous gardens at Sissinghurst and hid away in a tower there to write her poems, books and articles on gardening.

portrait of a woman in Edwardian clothes

Vita Sackville-West painted by Philip de Laszlo, part of the items saved. Courtesy MLA

Now the contents of this room, including furniture, pictures, poems, books and articles on gardening, have been secured and will be preserved by the National Trust at Sissinghurst, almost exactly as they were in Vita’s lifetime.

Other items that have recently been saved through the scheme, which is administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, include Turner’s 'Carisbrooke Castle' and 'Rome from San Pietro in Montorino', historic sculptures at West Wycombe Park and the archive of the de Saumarez family, one of the oldest in England.

Turner’s watercolours have been allocated to the Samuel Courtauld Trust pending a decision on permanent allocation. Carisbrooke Castle comes from his Picturesque Views in England and Wales series, while Rome from San Pietro in Montorino dates from Turner’s first visit to Italy, showing a panorama of the city, bathed in golden light.

watercolour painting of a castle

Carisbrooke Castle from Turner's Picturesque views in England and Wales series. Courtesy MLA

"The Acceptance in Lieu scheme continues to bring in fascinating collections and treasures for the benefit of the public as a whole," said MLA Chair Mark Wood.

"I believe it is now an increasingly important way of funding the protection of our heritage."

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