National Trust Wins Major Award For Tyntesfield Fundraising

By David Prudames | 09 September 2003
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photo of an ornately decorated victorian room with a wooden vaulted roof

Photo: the stunning Gothic revival house offers a unique window on the Victorian era. © NTPL / Andreas von Einsiedel.

The spectacular fund-raising campaign that accumulated the £24 million needed to buy the Tyntesfield country estate, in just eight weeks, has been recognised at the 2003 UK Charity Awards.

When the huge Victorian Gothic revival house and grounds were put on sale in April last year following the death of its final resident, Lord Wraxall, the National Trust launched a campaign to buy it.

In 50 days, with help from the National Memorial Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and private donors, the Trust secured the funds necessary to secure the future of the estate for the nation.

National Trust Director of Fundraising, Gill Raikes explained why she believes the Tyntesfield campaign was so successful.

"There was a genuine public fear that we would lose Tyntesfield and all that it represented," said Gill.

"Our success in raising the mnecessary funds so quickly reflected not only the enthusiasm and dedication of staff throughout the Trust but also the overwhelming public passion for this unique property."

Situated on the outskirts of Bristol, Tyntesfield is considered to be a spectacular and unique surviving example among the great houses of its type; not only for its high Victorian architecture and craftsmanship, but also for its value as a remarkable social document of the Victorian era.

The property is a complete collection from building and contents to financial records, invoices, bills and even a room stuffed with Sainsbury’s carrier bags.

photo of a large neo gothic country house

Photo: the West Front of Tyntesfield. © NTPL / Andrew Butler.

Liz Cope, Visitor Services Manager at Tyntesfield told the 24 Hour Museum how the conservation of the property, which opened to the public on a limited basis earlier this year, is an ongoing project.

"At the moment we are undertaking surveys to assess the amount of work that needs to be done, the visitors coming this year are very much seeing a project in action."

Liz explained that the Trust decided not to bring in a host of professional companies to carry out the conservation, but is intending to use the project as a learning tool.

"There is a shortage of the types of skills needed to look after historic buildings," said Liz, "it is really about bringing people in and teaching them."

While the full restoration and conservation of the estate will take around 15 years, the Trust is currently in discussion with the Prison Service over a programme of work involving young offenders.

At the moment staff at the site are putting together an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund: "The fund raising that was done was enough to purchase the estate, we now need the funds to look after it," added Liz.

Tyntesfield will be open again for pre-booked guided tours from spring next year and limited public access should be available from 2005.

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