Statement on hats for sale at Tatton Park

Since 1958 Tatton Park has been leased and managed by Cheshire East Council. They run the shop on site as well as the property, so the National Trust has no say on the items sold there.

Any enquires regarding the property, or items for sale in the shop, should be directed to Cheshire East Council.

 

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Our response to concerns over Modern Ground Rents

The Trust grants many leases of houses to tenants up and down the country. Among these are leasehold tenants who bought their homes under ‘long leases’ which originally lasted for more than 21 years. Under the terms of the Leasehold Reform Act, long leasehold tenants have the right to extend their leases by up to 50 years in return for a payment of a higher, Modern Ground Rent.

The Trust has discovered that some long leasehold tenants were not aware of the way in which Modern Ground Rents work and had not been properly advised by their solicitors or valuers when they bought their properties. So those tenants have understandably been taken by surprise by the higher level of rent charged and we are working with them to find a fair solution.

Government legislation determines how modern ground rent is calculated and is based on the current value of the land, which will have increased significantly since the tenants originally bought their leases.

We have around 300 leaseholders who may be affected by modern ground rent, and are in discussions with those who have approached us in order to agree a solution.

We have listened to the concerns of leaseholders who were affected and have agreed in the relevant cases that it is fair to share the financial impact and have reduced the Modern Ground Rents by 50%. As a charity, in order to be able to make a reduction in the modern ground rent, we had to apply for permission to the Charity Commission which they granted.

We know that some leaseholders feel they have been misled as to the impact of modern ground rent and we take those concerns very seriously. If we are satisfied that that has happened then we will consider foregoing modern ground rent altogether, which we have already done in one case.

We are very aware of how distressing it has been for some of our tenants who discovered they would have to pay much more to live in their homes and we are continuing to work with them and the tenant representatives to reach an agreement.

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Endangered nightjar fighting back in former commercial timber woods, to delight of conservationists

An endangered summer bird is bouncing back after woodland and heathland was restored by the National Trust at former timber plantations.

Two former commercial conifer sites in southern England, now actively managed for wildlife, have fostered the revival.

Fledglings were found for the first time on the Mottisfont Estate by volunteer rangers alerted to a possible nest by the distinctive ‘churring’ call of an adult male.

The elusive nightjar – a nocturnal hawk-like bird that migrates thousands of miles to breed – has declined dramatically in previous decades due to the loss of its heath and woodland habitats, and increasing disturbance.

The adult birds were attracted to clearings that appeared as conifer plantations were felled, and the landscape began its transition back to native deciduous woodland. Rangers hope to build on this success by retaining glades to attract more ground-nesting birds as the broadleaved woods develop.

Mottisfont ranger Catherine Hadler, said, “This is a fantastic example of how woodland management can benefit species that have declined rapidly in recent decades due to habitat loss. We’ll be doing everything we can to encourage this wonderful bird back to the Mottisfont Estate in years to come.”

At Foxbury in the New Forest, a unique heathland restoration project has recorded its greatest ever number of breeding nightjars. 27 males and six females were counted during a recent survey at the site, which only ten years earlier was a private commercial timber plantation. With the conifers cleared, traditional grazing introduced and the gradual planting of native broadleaved trees, the classic lowland heath landscape for which the Forest is famous is returning, and with it, the wildlife.

Controlled access to the site has also dramatically reduced the risk of disturbance to the nightjar and other endangered ground-nesting birds, like the woodcock.

Alan Snook, New Forest ornithology specialist and Chairman of the New Forest Bird Group: “Foxbury is a huge success story for wildlife. I think it’s safe to say it now holds the densest population of nightjars in the New Forest – an amazing achievement in such a short space of time.

“The scattered trees provide the necessary perches for nightjars to ‘churr’ from, and the heath provides prey in the form of moths and beetles. Ironically, because footfall is managed and the birds aren’t constantly disturbed, more people than otherwise have had a wonderful nightjar experience on a summer’s evening because of the National Trust’s guided nightjar walks.”

“We’re managing Foxbury and our other Forest commons specifically to encourage traditional New Forest wildlife but nightjars are just one of the species thriving here,” said community ranger Jake White. “Along with plants such as heather, gorse and sundews, we’re also seeing specialist heathland wildlife like the silver-studded blue butterfly and the Dartford warbler, as well as breeding adders, and over 17 species of dragonfly.”

80% of the UK’s lowland heaths – home to some of the UK’s rarest species of animal and plantlife – have been lost since the 1800s.

Close up of nightjar on New Forest common, credit National Trust Images

Rare butterflies booming at National Trust sites after conservation boost

Some of Britain’s rarest butterflies are booming at National Trust sites, a new report has found.

The study, led by charity Butterfly Conservation, revealed that rare species like Marsh Fritillary are bucking nationwide declines, with these ‘habitat specialist’ butterflies seeing their numbers grow by a tenth at National Trust sites since 1992.

It follows decades of work by National Trust advisers and rangers to protect the specialist habitats demanded by struggling butterfly species including the Duke of Burgundy and Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

The Trust, which this year pledged to create 25,000 hectares of new ‘priority’ nature habitats by 2025, is also working to restore numbers of farmland butterflies on its land to 1976-levels.

Researchers from Butterfly Conservation used results from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme to compare butterfly numbers at National Trust sites to those under other ownerships. They found that ‘habitat specialist’ butterflies such as the chalk grassland-loving Adonis Blue have increased in abundance by 13 per cent on National Trust land since 1992.

Overall, scarcer butterflies have declined by a quarter (25 per cent) in the British countryside in the last 25 years.

Matthew Oates, National Trust butterfly specialist, said: “Many of Britain’s scarcest butterflies are doing relatively well at our places, with rangers and tenant farmers working together to protect important habitats.

“Nationally, butterflies like the beautiful Duke of Burgundy are experiencing steady declines as a consequence of habitat loss and, most probably, climate change.”

Among the winners identified in the report led by Butterfly Conservation is the Marsh Fritillary, which has seen its numbers grow by five per cent year on year at National Trust sites over the last 25 years. In Ennerdale, Cumbria, the Trust is working with local Lake District farmer Judith Weston, grazing the wet flush grassland habitat with cattle to provide the perfect conditions for the Marsh Fritillary caterpillars.

In The Chilterns, Duke of Burgundy butterflies, whose numbers are stable on National Trust land compared to a moderate decline elsewhere, have benefitted from a 20-year effort by Trust rangers and partners to manage chalk grassland at Ivinghoe Hills and Dunstable Downs.

Professor Tom Brereton, head of monitoring at Butterfly Conservation, said: “The results are highly encouraging and demonstrate that with targeted and tailored habitat management we can turn around the fortunes of many threatened butterfly species.”

Despite concerted effort, a small number of scarce species are still declining on National Trust land. They include the endangered High Brown Fritillary and Heath Fritillary butterflies.

The National Trust’s Matthew Oates added: “We are trying to better understand what’s behind the declines.”

More common butterfly species, such as the Meadow Brown and Large White, were found to be less abundant on National Trust sites than in the wider countryside. The charity’s specialists believe this may be a consequence of rangers managing sites for rarer species.

The National Trust now hopes to boost the number of farmland butterflies on its 200,000 acres of farmed land. The conservation charity has pledged to improve butterfly habitats on land in its care, with the hope of boosting the ranges of rarer ‘habitat specialists’ like Adonis Blue by 50 per cent.

The Trust will work closely with Butterfly Conservation to better manage butterfly sites and to monitor progress on these ambitions.

Updated media statement on Felbrigg badges

The National Trust was established “for the benefit of the Nation” and we passionately believe our purpose is to make everyone feel welcome at our places, as our founders would have wanted.

We are using the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality as an opportunity to tell the stories of the people at some of our places, whose personal lives were outside the social norms of their time.

We hugely value our volunteers and many across the country have taken the opportunity to get involved in developing our Prejudice and Pride programme, which explores LGBTQ heritage.

At Felbrigg, many volunteers have enthusiastically supported a new exhibition, which looks at the life of the extraordinarily generous Robert Ketton–Cremer.  His decision to leave the house to the Trust was the result in part of the fact that he had never married and had no heirs.

We asked all our staff and volunteers at the house to wear rainbow lanyards or badges during the six-week event as welcoming symbol to all our visitors.  We remain absolutely committed to our Pride programme, which will continue as intended, along with the exhibition at Felbrigg.

However, we are aware that some volunteers had conflicting, personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges. That was never our intention.

We are therefore making it clear to volunteers that the wearing of the badge is optional and a personal decision.  We will be speaking to all our volunteers at Felbrigg over the coming days about this issue.

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Media statement on Volunteers and Prejudice and Pride programme

Annabel Smith, Head of Volunteering & Participation Development said:

“All of our staff and volunteers sign up to our founding principles when they join us – we are an organisation that is for ever, for everyone.  We are committed to developing and promoting equality of opportunity and inclusion in all that we do regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

“Relating specifically to the Prejudice and Pride programme, we do recognise that some volunteers may have conflicting, personal opinions.

“However whilst volunteering for the National Trust we do request and expect individuals to uphold the values of the organisation. We encourage people with any concerns to chat to our teams. As part of Prejudice and Pride we have worked closely with Stonewall and the University of Leicester who have been providing training and support to help as many volunteers as possible feel confident to take part.”

As part of our ‘Prejudice and Pride’ programme our staff and volunteers are wearing rainbow badges and lanyards, as an international symbol of welcome.

Some volunteers at Felbrigg have said they feel uncomfortable wearing these and we have offered them the opportunity to take a break from front facing duties if that’s what they would prefer.

 

Media statement on Felbrigg’s ‘The Unfinished Portrait’ film

Many of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality.

We are proud to share a fuller portrait of Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer and do not attach shame to his sexuality. The people we interviewed were clear that we weren’t ‘outing’ him because amongst those who knew him, this was widely accepted.

Professor Richard Sandell, of the University of Leicester which has worked in partnership with the Trust on the project, said:

“I would strongly argue that we cannot perpetuate the values and attitudes of the past. You would only continue to conceal these truths if there was still a stigma attached to being gay. It is important to people today that we talk openly – just as we do about the personal lives of people who were heterosexual.

“We discovered so much more to Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer than what we know. He’s a well-known biographer of Thomas Gray and Robert Walpole, and discussed their same-sex desires in an open and honest way.

“But we also found beautifully written poetry, love poetry, from his time at Oxford when he was just 19 years old. We get a sense that it was difficult to be who he was. We know he would’ve been aware of what happened to people who were found to be homosexual, and that would be a difficult, if not terrifying, prospect.”

As a renowned researcher who studied and published biographies of important literary persons in the past with integrity, he would most likely have known that future research on his works, life and times might be studied and published, many of which were included in his bequest to the National Trust.

We think Stephen Fry summaries it quite well…

“Some have asked why this is necessary – why the lives of people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality should be made public and celebrated in this way. The answer is quite simple – to do anything less is to suggest that same-sex love and gender diversity is somehow wrong, and keeping these stories hidden only lets prejudice – past and present – go unchallenged.”

This is the link to the film. https://youtu.be/pdgaAdhapoc

Details of the National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride programme can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/prejudiceandpride