Treasures On Show In Country Houses Thanks To Tax Scheme

By Georgi Gyton | 17 March 2008
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A photo graph of the study at Scotney Castle, with a desk and chairs in the foreground and grand fireplace behind.

Scotney Castle study. Courtesy MLA. © NTPL

National treasures will now be on display at country houses in Kent, North Yorkshire and Cheshire, thanks to recent decisions by the Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme.

The scheme, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), on behalf of the government, allows items deemed to be national treasures to be enjoyed by the nation in place of a portion of inheritance tax. In recent months £5.4m worth of national treasures have been transferred to UK public collections under the AIL scheme, settling nearly £3m of tax.

Scotney Castle in Kent has opened its doors to the public for the first time after taking advantage of the scheme. The stately home, which is known for its picturesque garden already open to the public, houses a collection of more than 250 valuable items, including paintings, porcelain, glass, silver and furniture. Among them is an English Delft Royalist sack bottle, painted with a crown above the letters CR and the date 1649.

The collection has been allocated to the National Trust, which already owns the castle.

A painting by Luca Carlevarjis titled 'The Piazza San Marco during a carnival'

(Above) Luca Carlevarjis, The Piazza San Marco during a carnival. Courtesy MLA

Also on the list of treasures is a collection of 21 silver pieces at Dunham Massey Hall near Manchester, including candelabra, wine coolers, a tea kettle and a soap box. These items have been allocated to the National Trust to be displayed at the Dunham Massey Hall, settling £686,000 of tax.

A painting by Luca Carlevarjis, titled The Piazza San Marco during a carnival, is one of 12 paintings saved for the public at Kiplin Hall in Yorkshire. The historic house with all its contents has belonged to the blood-related families who owned it over nearly 400 years.

The paintings have now been allocated to the Trustees of Kiplin Hall and include Joachim Beuckelaer’s A Peasant Couple with farmyard fowl and produce; a pair of Venetian views by a follower of Canaletto; and various portraits by Sir William Beechey.

A photo of the dining room at Scotney Castle, with a fully laid dining table

Scotney Castle dining room. Courtesy MLA. © NTPL

“The range of art works and historic artefacts which have now been made accessible to the public speaks volumes about the continuing success of the AIL scheme," said MLA Chair Mark Wood said. "The opening of Scotney Castle with much of its display secured by AIL is a particularly notable achievement."

Previously acquired items under the AIL scheme include objects associated with Admiral Lord Nelson, which have been divided between the Royal Naval Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of Oxford.

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