The Spectacular West Front of Tyntesfield. © NTPL / Andrew Butler.
When the elaborate Victorian Gothic mansion of Tyntesfield came up for sale in April 2002, the National Trust immediately launched a campaign to raise the funds to buy it.
Just 50 days later, £24 million had been raised and the country estate just outside Bristol was saved for the nation. But the hard work had only just begun as the trust estimated that conservation of the property would take it 15 years.
However, innovative plans for the securing of Tyntesfield for future generations have been given a huge boost following an announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) of a £20 million earmarked grant for the project.
The stunning Gothic revival house offers a unique window on the Victorian era. © NTPL / Andreas von Einsiedel.
"Tyntesfield is one of this country's most spectacular Victorian treasures," said Carole Souter, Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, speaking on March 22.
"The National Trust's vision for the property has tremendous potential to deliver innovative educational and conservation benefits. Today's decision is a very positive first step towards the National Trust realising its ambitious plans for Tyntesfield."
Overlooking the Land Yeo Valley, Tyntesfield was remodelled by John Norton in 1864 for successful merchant William Gibbs. Considered to be a unique surviving example among the great houses of its type, the property is regarded as a treasure not only for its high Victorian architecture, but also for its value as a complete social document of the Victorian era.
The HLF grant represents a Stage One Pass, which means money has been set aside for the project but will only be awarded once the trust has further developed its plans.
© NTPL / Andrew Butler.
Placing particular emphasis on learning, volunteering and conservation, the National Trust intends its conservation scheme to revolutionise the way it runs its.
Unusually for a National Trust property undergoing conservation work, Tyntesfield has been open to the public since October 2002 so that visitors can watch the transformation process.
A staggering 63,000 people have already been through its doors and currently the National Trust is welcoming over 1,000 visitors a week. It is anticipated that once the project is fully completed over 150,000 people will visit the property annually.