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.

Details of the National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride programme can be found at


Full transcript of Helen Ghosh speech at BBC Countryfile Live

Thank you. It’s good to be back here at Blenheim to celebrate the best of our countryside, from wildlife and farming to outdoor pursuits and food, in partnership with Countryfile.

It’s been a year since I stood here, shortly after the Brexit decision, making the case that we should seize the opportunity to think again about how and why we use public money to support our countryside.   This is because, in all sorts of ways, the current EU subsidy system is broken.  Despite reform ten years or more ago, which did something to arrest decline, the current system of support for agriculture has resulted overall in a dramatic decline in nature and species, soils and water.

How has the debate gone since then?

Some reasons to be cheerful

Looking back, there are many reasons to be cheerful, though until they can be certain of what the future might look like, it may not feel like that for farmers worrying about their livelihoods and communities whose viability depends on agriculture.

One very positive development is that there is – more loudly than for a long time – a proper public debate going on about the role of farming and farmers in their vital job of food production and creating and protecting the environment and landscapes the public value.   Top billing on the Today programme, not just Farming Today, can’t do any harm.

It’s also good news that successive Defra Ministers – and now Mr Gove – have stuck to their commitment to produce a 25 Year Environment Plan to achieve the ambition of leaving the environment in a better place than we found it.    And within that vision, we have to do the right thing for farming – with 70% of the land in the UK farmed in some way, for the sake of the future health and productivity of our countryside and our environment we can’t afford to get it wrong.

The 25 Year Plan is an opportunity to set out a clear ambition for both farming and the environment, which will provide a strong foundation for the government’s proposed Agriculture Bill.   You can’t deal with one without the other.

Public payment for services

It is also encouraging that there is increasing consensus around the essential principles of any future vision for agriculture, with many of the bodies representing farmers and land managers, other conservation charities, environmental thinkers and individual farmers supporting the same ideas.

Two weeks ago, we heard Michael Gove echo the need for financial support for farming to be focused on public benefits and emphasise that support should go to land owners and managers who cultivate and protect the range of habitats which will benefit nature. He gave the example of planting trees – “a source of beauty and wonder” but also a carbon sink, a way to manage to flood risk and a habitat for precious species – which is effectively dis-incentivised by the current system of farm support under the CAP. The opportunity we now have to correct this, by better integrating agriculture and forestry, is another reason to be cheerful.

All these people are saying that – as far as public support is concerned – we should reward farmers who deliver the most public benefit; invest in science, new markets and technology; and crucially make sure public money only pays for the goods that the public values – thriving nature, beautiful landscapes and associated heritage – but for which other markets won’t pay.

And everyone is moving away from the idea that we should think of these as “subsidies”. They will be payments for services delivered – just like every other aspect of farming as a business.

New markets

We have also made progress in thinking about what those other – market-based – sources of income for farmers in a post-subsidy world might be. I’ll come back later to the debate that needs to be had about food and how farmers can be properly rewarded for this vital service.

We have been working with our partner organisation Green Alliance, for example, to think about new ways in which the private sector can support land management, tapping into new natural markets.

One such example is our ‘slow, clean water’ proposition, following on from our successful natural flood management project with farmers on the Holnicote Estate in Exmoor. Working with water companies, other businesses and leading landowners, we’re planning to turn our concept of a ‘natural infrastructure scheme’ into a workable proposition where groups of farmers working together would sell flood protection and clean water to water companies and public authorities downstream. We’ll be publishing a paper with Green Alliance shortly to set out how we can do this.
Business has just as great an interest as the public in clean water, healthy soils and well-managed carbon, and a motive for investing to ensure these are achieved in the most efficient way. Alongside their work with us on natural markets, Green Alliance have also been thinking about how this might work with the food industry Their proposals included introduction of new Natural Capital Allowances, to support investment by the food sector in environmental restoration, for example of soils. This would supplement – not replace – public payments to farmers and use public funding to leverage the private sector investment required to restore natural assets at the scale we need.

Underlying these kinds of payments for environmental services is the idea of Natural Capital Accounting – measuring the changes in the stock of natural assets like land, forests and rivers. It is very reassuring that the present Government is looking to Dieter Helm and the Natural Capital Committee for advice on how they might help define what good looks like and help measure the outcomes.

But it needs to be kept simple. Most people agree that some kind of “outcome-based” system of payment for public goods is needed, rather than a payment simply for owning a piece of land. But it needs to be flexible – for example to take account of the natural fluctuation in species or habitat.   And farmers need to be central to the process.

At Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales we’re working closely with a group of our tenant farmers to trial our own ‘payments for outcomes’ scheme, to see how this could work in practice. It’s not just aimed at paying for single, specialised habitats, but at whole farm outcomes. This outcomes-based approach and move to low input farming system will help create a more varied vegetation structure and vegetation types, boosting habitat diversity and condition but which could also contribute to natural flood management, enhance carbon storage in peat and trees and protection of archaeological and landscapes features. We’ve already taken Defra and Treasury staff to have a look and we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned more widely in due course. 

Cultural value

There is also a consensus that the future of farming is about much more than production. It’s intimately bound up with the culture and heritage in which production takes place, particularly through a period of inevitable change, whether that comes about as a result of climate change, world markets or the nature of public support.    And the uplands will be particularly vulnerable to those changes.


We will need to find ways in which to support the best of that culture – whether in the Lake District or rural Wales – while facilitating the change that will be needed.

A local approach

And another reason to be cheerful is the general acceptance that any new system needs to be much more sensitive to regional and local difference.   As a veteran of many Public Accounts Committee appearances,   I am under no illusion that neither the Treasury nor Parliament will hand out billions of pounds of public money without requiring very clear overarching frameworks and clear accountability.

But within those frameworks, most people – including Government – are saying that there should be regional or catchment based approach to planning for the environment and paying farmers for their part in it. Decision-making can be much more democratic, involving all the players – farmers, environmental agencies, business and communities.   That would also be a much more responsive structure to meet the very varied cultural, environmental and economic needs of each area.


This is all good news. But there are still a number of areas to worry about, and lots more work to do, and the clock is ticking.

Particularly concerning is the lack of clarity around the transition period. That’s a term much in the news at the moment, but in this case I mean it very specifically in relation to the move from the current Common Agricultural Policy – or CAP – to the new world.

Level of public support

The government has made an initial commitment to retain the current EU farm policy framework until 2020 and maintain the current £3bn level of support until 2022.  But we and the other environmental charities are clear that £3bn a year still will be needed into the foreseeable future, if we are to repair the historic damage, and do what we need to do to adapt to climate change, and restore soil and water quality, habitats, species, natural flood protection and damaged landscapes.

The Government’s own estimate in 2009 was that anything between £1bn and 3bn would be needed to do the job, and things have got worse since then. We along with RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts – will be producing an updated figure next month.

We need also clarity now about how the transition to any new arrangements will work and the money that will be available. Because the longer we wait, the more we risk losing all the gains we have made over the last decade – and creating a further decade of damaging uncertainty for our countryside.

We have already seen examples of short-term decision-making, where farmers – in response to uncertainty about the future and income – have chosen not to re-enter stewardship or have ploughed up pasture created with support from stewardship schemes back into arable to shore-up their immediate revenue streams.  Very understandable, but heart-breaking.

Taking action now

And we don’t have to wait until after 2020 to move in the right direction. By acting as soon as we leave the EU in 2019, Government could provide a strong and tangible signal of direction of travel post-CAP.    I know that Defra recently turned its face against the idea, but once we have left the EU in March 2019 we could transfer more of the £3bn CAP budget from Pillar 1 (which is paid on the basis of hectares owned) into Pillar 2, currently only £600m a year, which pays farmers to produce the additional environmental goods of all kinds that we desperately need. £800m on top of the current £600m more seems like a good figure to be getting on with. 



And we also need a national discussion about food. In one sense, this isn’t the National Trust’s business – we are not a food charity – but the issue is central to any vision for the future of agriculture.


As some of the recent commentary on possible trade deals has demonstrated, as a nation we still seem to be in a muddle about what we want from our food production, and the many trade-offs that need to be made, whether that’s price, animal welfare or costs to the environment (hidden or explicit).


For example, too often debates about food security – which will continue to rely on good, open trade deals – are confused with ideas of domestic self-sufficiency or ‘food sovereignty’, whether and why we need to become more self-sufficient and indeed whether it is achievable at all within global legal frameworks.


And the academics are still at odds about the most important drivers of the cost of food to the consumer – tariffs? World demand? Supermarket policy?   Do we want to focus on quantity or quality? Where do we think our natural advantage lies?  And – crucially – what do the public want?


The 25 year Plan and Agriculture Bill give government, farmers, land managers, retailers and the public an opportunity to have this discussion.   At the end of it, we need to create a situation in which sustainable and forward-looking farm businesses can thrive and deliver what the nation and the public want, within a framework of protection and restoration of all aspects of our precious natural environment.


The role of good regulation


A key part of that framework is currently provided by regulation, also a hot topic this week. In fact, politicians from all parties, environmental organisations and business have all supported the argument that the framework of environmental regulation that has been developed within the EU, including the overarching principles such as precaution and the polluter pays – should be transferred lock, stock and barrel in the post-Brexit world.


That is not to say that there are no improvements to be made to the current framework, but successive attempts to deregulate (I can’t remember how many red-tape taskforces I’ve seen come and go) show that most of those involved, including the public, recognise that current standards involved are reasonable and that you need a transparent and even-handed regulatory framework is one in which businesses – including farms – can thrive and the public will have confidence. You don’t hear many calls from the public to deregulate – whether on food safety standards or environmental protection.  Business wants a level-playing field, not a free-for-all.  So good environmental regulation will need to go hand-in-hand with any new system of incentives for environmental outcomes.  The key thing is clarity and well-handled enforcement, sensitive to local needs.

How to measure success

Finally, we need agreement on how to set our ambitions for nature and the environment.  In his recent speech, the Secretary of State talked about the need to include measurable goals in the 25 year plan and we fully support this. One idea would be to chunk up our long term ambitions into five year nature or natural asset budgets, flexible to local needs and circumstances, as we do Carbon Budgets under the Climate Change Act.

What farms of the future might look like

Anyone who is a farmer now, and people thinking of it as a future career, must find the agenda daunting. Because of all the many things that skilled and caring management of the countryside can offer the nation, the expectations will be high.   Food production, soil improvement, flood management, heritage protection, beauty of landscape – so many things that the nation wants from what are essentially a small and medium enterprises (or ‘SMEs’), with all the human and economic challenges involved in running any business.

And this is where Government and its resources have a strong role to play – funding the advice, training and capital investment schemes that will help our farmers gain the skills and confidence to become managers of rural SMEs. These will trade on all the natural and cultural assets that our wonderful countryside embodies.

The good news – again – is that there are many already reassuring examples of what this can look like. One of our neighbours in the Yorkshire Dales, farmer Chris Clarke at Nethergill, is one of those leading the way, trying a different financial model which also drives great conservation gains.

Chris has reduced his livestock numbers to cut costs on his 400-acre holding at Nethergill and to make the farm more profitable. He cares deeply for his land and the deep peat covering the upper reaches, so grazes sensitively to protect this and allow the establishment of some 18,000 new trees, developing new native woodland areas and delivering great wildlife benefit. He and his wife Fi are passionate about the wildlife and habitats he’s breathed new life into over the last 10 years, from the curlews wheeling overhead to the otters in the beck.

But his second passion and expertise is in making farming work pay. His recipe is simple: know your balance sheet, understand your cash flows, go for high margins not high volumes; avoid all unnecessary costs.  And he has revealed that small numbers of farm animals, with value added to their production at every turn, is where the margins start to look attractive.  He takes frugality in managing input costs for his livestock to a new level.  His native shorthorn cattle and sheep largely look after themselves, and the land supports only what it has the capacity to manage, all year round.In partnership with a local butcher and chef, Chris and Fi have created ready-meals which sell locally and to the guests they welcome to their self-catering accommodation, which achieves 75% occupancy with an increasing numbers of walkers visiting the area.  Passing trade visits a ‘nature barn’ with simple honesty food and drink available, which adds a further £4k to the annual revenue pot.  Visitors and providing for their needs are now the majority component in his annual financial picture.

As Chris proves, this different route is possible. But we will need some brave advocacy and hard numbers to make the arguments and win the case. Government can provide this leadership and sense of direction now.


Someone once told me that you need two things to achieve your ambitions – stamina and optimism.   The government’s ambition is for this generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it.  And we are within touching distance of a vision for the future of farming that sees thriving businesses successfully meeting the needs of [the nation] into the 21st century and beyond.

I believe that there are grounds for optimism that we can achieve both.   And I can assure you that the National Trust has the stamina to play its part.


Clare Balding presents podcasts on LGBTQ heritage for National Trust ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme

A six-part podcast series, ‘Prejudice & Pride’, presented by broadcaster and author Clare Balding, launches today and explores stories from National Trust places across the country, uncovering the LGBTQ heritage that has often been left out of recorded history.

The series brings together studio discussions and recordings at Trust places, with contributions from new and established writers, historians and curators.

Each episode follows a theme, such as women’s intimacies, creative retreats, queer history in the ancient world and connections with the performing arts.

Clare Balding in the studio, (C) Anna Lea


Clare Balding says: “I’m delighted to present some of the creative, dramatic and surprising stories that have emerged as part of the National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme. I admire hugely the work the Trust has done in preserving our cultural and architectural history, and these places mean so much more when we understand the people who lived and loved in them.

“I think it’s crucial to realise that LGBTQ heritage and LGBTQ people are not a new phenomenon or a passing phase.  There have always been people of amazing creativity, generosity and importance who do not conform to gender stereotypes.

“I feel we can get better at embracing difference. Realising the impact of the LGBTQ community as a key part of our British heritage is a step in the right direction.”

The podcasts – to be released weekly – are among the latest series of activities and events announced by the Trust in its year-long ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme to mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

LGBTQ heritage has an important place in the history of the conservation charity and the places in its care. To celebrate this heritage, the Trust has been exploring the stories of the people who challenged conventional notions of gender and sexuality and who shaped the places in which they lived.

Three short documentary-style films have also been produced to celebrate LGBTQ heritage and the breadth of activity across the ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme. Artists in residence Simona Piantieri and Michele D’Acosta have captured key moments from the programme.

The films include footage of the recent joint project with The National Archives to recreate The Caravan, a queer-friendly members club in 1934 that was shut down by police; the moving stories of Pre-Raphaelite artist Simeon Solomon and his contemporaries connected to Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton; and highlights of Birmingham Pride Festival in May.

National Trust at Birmingham Pride 2017, (C) Arnhel de Serra

 The films encompass stories of love, loss and tragedy, as well as celebration and pride, and will be exhibited at selected properties and online.

The Trust’s research into the many LGBTQ stories at its places and the people who shaped them has been published this month in a new Prejudice & Pride guidebook by Professor Alison Oram and Professor Matt Cook.

From tales of cross-dressing to stories of servants and the retreats used by same-sex couples, the guidebook explores famous names and unknown people, as well as the architecture, design and collections which they may have associated with as a way of expressing their desires and relationships.


Front cover of the new Prejudice & Pride guidebook


Tom Freshwater, National Programmes Manager at the National Trust says: “There is an extraordinary range of stories and people connected to our places which illustrates how deeply LGBTQ heritage goes back into our shared history.

“Thousands of visitors have already enjoyed theatre performances, art installations and exhibitions as part of our programme so far this year, as well as taking part in our partnership projects with University of Leicester and The National Archives, and joining us as we participate at Pride festivals.

“This is not just a year-long celebration but one which will give us a lasting legacy and offer a greater understanding, accessibility and higher profile for LGBTQ heritage that will benefit us all.”

Property-based events in the Prejudice & Pride programme are also taking place this summer and autumn.

  • Sutton House, Hackney

Sutton House is hosting a year of exhibitions, activities and events around the theme ‘Sutton House Queered’. Exploring identity in a creative, challenging and playful way, the programme has been developed with the LGBTQ community and a number of partners. A summer School of Anarchy will explore themes of LGBTQ activism and protests, banners and flags, DIY cultures and activist zines. Queer artist Jacob V Joyce will be creating an exciting and interactive in-house exhibit alongside a series of engaging family activities.      24 July to 3 September.

  • Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

A new short film ‘The Unfinished Portrait’ narrated by local resident, actor, writer and presenter Stephen Fry, tells the story of the last squire of Felbrigg – Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer. The last squire was a shy, gentle man, known as ‘Bunny’ to his friends, who restored his exquisite ancestral home and bequeathed it to the nation in 1969. Although many have privately acknowledged his homosexuality, this has not been previously discussed with visitors to the Hall. Working with the staff at Felbrigg, the University of Leicester team has uncovered new information about the last squire – his poetry, scholarship and circle of friends – that has been used to create the beautiful short film.

The film uses an unusual and striking blend of live action (featuring National Trust volunteers from Felbrigg), animation and motion graphics, created by a talented team of artists and designers – Julie Howell, Tom Butler and Lea Nagano.

Released online and at Felbrigg from 25 July.

Kingston Lacy, (C) Thomas Faull


  • Kingston Lacy, Dorset

A bold new installation and exhibition – Exile! – celebrates the contribution of William John Bankes to Kingston Lacy and the impact he had on the house and estate. Forced to flee England in 1841 to avoid prosecution and a possible death penalty for same-sex acts, Bankes was exiled in Europe, from where he sent back a vast collection of art to further develop the house.

This collaboration between Kingston Lacy and the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, places Bankes’ experiences in the context of a broader history of the persecution of LGBTQ lives, enriching the contemporary relevance of his story.  In memory of his exile, the rainbow flag will be flown at Kingston Lacy throughout the installation.

18 September to 12 November

  •  Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent

 At Sissinghurst Castle Garden, LGBTQ heritage plays a particularly important part in the property’s story. Owners Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, who purchased Sissinghurst in 1930, enjoyed a happy and loving marriage while also engaging in same sex extra marital affairs. Their relationships challenged social norms and influenced them both creatively.

Speak its Name!  – a display in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London – will present selected portraits from the Gallery’s Collection, including photographs and drawings of Sackville-West’s lovers Violet Trefusis and Virginia Woolf, and portraits of the couple’s artistic and literary contemporaries, including Duncan Grant and Lytton Strachey. Items from the Sissinghurst collection also feature, including a copy of ‘The Well of Loneliness’ by Radclyffe Hall, a book with a lesbian protagonist that was deemed ‘obscene’ by a British judge when it was released in 1928, and pictures of Nicolson and Woolf that once belonged to Sackville-West.

9 September – 29 October

  •  Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

When Emperor Hadrian ruled ancient Rome from AD 117 – 138, there was nothing unusual about same sex relations. What was extraordinary was his outpouring of grief over the death of his younger male lover, Antinous.  Evidence of it remains in the shape of marble busts of Antinous’ likeness and coins that depict him. In October, an evening of talks, created in partnership with Vindolanda Trust, Newcastle University and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, will round-off the National Trust’s year of events celebrating our shared LGBTQ heritage.

26 October

See the Prejudice and Pride web page for more details of the podcasts, films, activities and LGBTQ events around National Trust places in 2017.

National Trust rangers go to extreme lengths to monitor storm petrels

With ghetto blasters pumping into the early hours, this remote night spot has a very exclusive guest list: elusive sea birds only.
National Trust rangers are going to extreme lengths to monitor storm petrels, setting up high-powered speakers to lure them in at night.A BIRD IN THE HAND credit Douglas Holden
A small team of passionate ornithologists at The Leas in South Tyneside will work into the early hours to coax the birds by transmitting their sound out to sea.
Storm petrels, which don’t usually come inland in the daytime as they’re easily predated by gulls, are caught in mist nets before being ringed, recorded and set free again.
The data is passed onto the British Trust for Ornithology and provides vital information in understanding the survival rates, population sizes and movement of storm petrels. 
Dougie Holden, ranger for the National Trust on The Leas said:
“A small team of us regularly monitor storm petrels in July and August. We construct 120 foot of fine netting on the beach and begin playing the sound of the breeding colony as soon as it gets dark, usually around 10pm at this time of year. When the birds fly inland they are caught in the net and trained handlers ring the birds and record their data.”
“We prefer the weather conditions to be a little overcast as the nets are more visible to the birds on a clear moonlit night.”
“The information we gather through bird ringing and monitoring provides a small part of a much bigger picture when it comes to understanding how a species lives and thrives. The National Trust is passionate about wildlife conservation. We work closely with volunteers and other like-minded organisations to care for our natural world.”
Storm petrels spend the winter months off the coast of South West Africa and begin their long journey back to their UK breeding grounds in spring. Birds over the age of four are usually paired up and sitting on single eggs by early June. It is thought that the birds ringed on The Leas are under the age of four and spend the summer moving up and down the east coast, feeding rather than breeding.
In 2015 National Trust Rangers and the Whitburn coastal conservation group carried out an intensive eight week survey of storm petrels. During that time they ringed 514 storm petrels and two rare Leach’s storm petrels.
The Whitburn coastal conservation group has been monitoring storm petrels on The Leas for 15 years. During that time they recorded a visit from a bird in 2015 that was originally ringed off the coast of Portugal in 2004. They also ringed a bird in 2009 that was recorded on The Faroe Islands in 2010.
Wildlife enthusiasts are being invited along to watch the Trust’s rangers and coastal volunteers in action as they catch and ring storm petrels on Saturday 15 July. To book a place or find out more about this event log or call 0344 249 1895.

Andrew Logan sculpture comes to Buckland Abbey, former home of Sir Francis Drake

‘The Art of Reflection’ from 1 July 2017

An exhibition of contemporary art by the renowned sculptor Andrew Logan will open on Saturday 1 July at the National Trust’s Buckland Abbey in Devon.

‘The Art of Reflection’ interprets the history and spirit of the abbey in 18 Logan sculptures, placed in 13 selected locations throughout the house and gardens, including the Great Barn, Kitchen Garden and the historic Cart Pond.

The exhibition, one of the largest ever staged by the National Trust in collaboration with one artist, is curated jointly by Buckland Abbey and Andrew Logan, with work selected from five decades of the artist’s career.

A major attraction will be Andrew Logan’s new jewel and painted glass portrait of Sir Francis Drake, Buckland’s most celebrated owner.

Drake’s Portrait 2017, photo Steve Haywood/National Trust

‘The Art of Reflection’ has been organised under the conservation charity’s              Trust New Art contemporary art programme.

Reflecting themes ranging from exploration and discovery, to peace and tranquillity, and nature and the universe, ‘The Art of Reflection’ includes ‘Goldfield’, one of Logan’s earliest public commissions from 1976.

The giant installation will fill Buckland’s Great Barn with 4.5-metre high wheat stalks, field mice and floating butterflies.

Other exhibition highlights include ‘World of Smiles’, a hanging globe in Drake’s Chamber, echoing his circumnavigation of the world, and ‘Life and Oomph’, Logan’s life-size sculpture featuring Royal Ballet principal ballerina Lynn Seymour, reaching out from a sea of pearls. Never previously exhibited, ‘Life and Oomph’ will be installed in the former Long Gallery, a space historically used at Buckland for recreation and dancing.

Goldfield, photo Steve Haywood/National Trust


The abbey’s dining room is to be transformed by Logan into an installation titled ‘Dinner with Andrew Logan and Friends’ featuring artworks by his friends Duggie Fields, Jennifer and Christine Binnie, Richard Logan and Dame Zandra Rhodes.

Buckland’s gardens will be home to Logan’s ‘Four Flowers of the Apocalypse’, a floral tribute to the abbey’s spectacular natural setting, and ‘Excalibur’, a 3-metre glass sword rising out of the abbey’s Cart Pond.

‘The Alternative Miss World’ event which Logan conceived and has run for over 40 years will be represented by the ornamental ‘Elements’ and ‘Universe’ thrones on which the competition’s winners have been crowned. During the exhibition, Buckland’s visitors will be able to try out the thrones for themselves in the Great Hall which has welcomed many famous noblemen and dignitaries during its colourful history.

Buckland’s volunteers will be given specially created pieces of ‘apple’ jewellery to wear in celebration of the abbey’s 700 year old history of apple-growing and cider-making. Other pieces from Logan’s Heritage Jewellery collection will be displayed alongside historic artefacts in the abbey’s collection.

Excalibur, photo Steve Haywood/National Trust

James Breslin, Buckland Abbey’s House & Visitor Experience Manager said: “We’re thrilled to be working with an artist of Andrew’s calibre and to bring his work to Buckland. We have designed the exhibition with Andrew to weave its way through our existing collection and historic spaces, offering new and exciting ways to reflect on Buckland’s past through contemporary art.

“We hope our visitors will be surprised, inspired, and perhaps even challenged, by discovering Andrew’s beautiful sculptures in the tranquil and unique setting of Buckland.”

Andrew Logan said: “It is a joy working with Buckland Abbey for this exhibition and drawing inspiration from its great beauty, peace and tranquillity, resting in the Devon hills. It is exciting to mix new and old work, to see ‘Goldfield’ going on show again after 41 years, while creating a portrait of Francis Drake especially for Buckland as a homage to him. I really hope the exhibition is going to enthral visitors and be like Alice in Wonderland…full of surprises.”

Grace Davies, National Trust Contemporary Art Programme Manager said:
“For over five years visitors have been coming to experience Trust New Art, our rich and diverse programme of contemporary arts at properties across the country inspired by National Trust places. Continuing the spirit of Trust New Art, this vibrant exhibition by Andrew Logan shines a new light on Buckland Abbey, giving visitors the opportunity to experience contemporary creativity that is rooted in our unique heritage.”

‘The Art of Reflection’ runs until  February 2018.

Purple Emperor spotted at earliest point since 1893 after National Trust conservation work

purple-emperor-male-savernake-matthew-oatesOne of Britain’s most elusive butterflies has been recorded at the earliest point in more than 120 years.

The rare purple emperor was spotted at the National Trust’s Bookham Common, Leatherhead, on June 11, following balmy temperatures in the spring.

It follows decades of work by National Trust advisers and rangers to protect the specialist habitats demanded by struggling butterfly species.

Purple emperors are Britain’s second largest butterfly, with a wingspan of over 8cm. However, so elusive are the creatures that enthusiasts have gone to gruesome lengths to attract the butterfly, including putting out rotten squid slices and banana skins – which provide much-needed salt and minerals.

The species which is of “conservation concern” has been confined to the southernmost parts of the country, but is now apparently expanding its range.

Wildlife recorder and photographer Rob Hill made the official recording of the emperor on June 11.

It was the earliest record since the long hot summer of 1893, when one was captured on June 10 by Marlborough College boys in West Woods, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

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.

Bookham Common is one of the richest sites for butterflies and other insects in the UK.

Matthew Oates, the Trust’s Specialist on Nature and leading authority of the Purple Emperor butterfly, said: “Our butterflies keep appearing earlier and earlier in the year.  They are incredibly well monitored through the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, and more and more people are recording them.  But even in the long hot summer of 1976 the Purple Emperor didn’t appear before Midsummer Day. These are really exciting times for naturalists.”

Richard Fox, Head of Recording at Butterfly Conservation, added: “The Purple Emperor is the rock star of the butterfly world – it’s glamorous, elusive and has some unsavoury habits – and its appearance each year is eagerly awaited by wildlife watchers.

“Over the last 15 years, the average first sighting date has been 22 June, but this and other butterfly species are emerging very early this summer in response to above average UK temperatures in every month of 2017 so far.#

“With warm, sunny weather forecast for southern England over the next couple of weeks, the Purple Emperor should have an excellent season and bounce back from a poor year last year, which saw the lowest numbers recorded since 2007.”

See more about butterflies at Bookham Common here: A downloadable trail is available here: