Government must act on Brexit promises now to avoid decade of damaging uncertainty


Britain’s countryside faces a decade of damaging uncertainty unless the Government acts now to deliver on its Brexit promises, the director-general of the National Trust says today.
Farming and wildlife have their greatest opportunity in a generation thanks to recent commitments by the Government to reward nature-friendly agriculture, Helen Ghosh will say.
She will tell BBC Countryfile Live: “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.”
However, waiting to formally leave the EU will be too late, she warns, as it could take up to 10 years from today for new support packages to be in place.
“The longer we wait, the more we risk losing all the gains we have made over the last decade,” Helen will say.
The director-general, who last year called on ministers to seize the opportunity posed by Brexit, said farmers can feel optimistic about their prospects again if Government promises become policy before we part company with Brussels.
Affordable, high-quality food and wildlife-friendly methods can be secured if the Government…
*Maintains the £3billion-a-year support package for the industry, with clear incentives for nature-friendly farming.
*Ensures £800 million of defunct pillar one greening subsidies are redirected in 2019 into more effective incentive systems rewarding farmers for working in unison with the natural environment.
*Clearly guarantee and reassure farmers that environmental protections will be maintained or strengthened.
Helen warns current uncertainty is prompting some farmers to revert to intensive methods for short-term profits, damaging long-term agriculture and dwindling wildlife.
“We have already seen examples of short-term decision-making, where farmers – in response to uncertainty about the future and income – have ploughed up pasture which was created with support from EU environmental money,” she said. “It’s very understandable, but heart-breaking.”
Helen says that the “clock is ticking” for the Government to provide clarity before the EU cash-flow ends.
The conservation charity has been working in close partnership with farmers to build a bright post-Brexit future in which farming can thrive, nature can be revived, and cultural heritage is protected in some of Britain’s most beautiful landscapes.
Helen said in a speech to the Uplands Alliance in January that “the future of farming is bound up with the future of nature: without a healthy natural environment the long term viability of farming is in question.”
Today she will say that the Government will need to extend its initial £3billion support package commitment for the “foreseeable future, if we are to repair the historic damage, adapt to climate change, and restore soil and water quality, habitats, species, natural flood protection and damaged landscapes.”
By redirecting £800million of watered-down EU green subsidies, the Government could almost double the pot available to support nature-friendly farming to around £1.5billion.
The Government’s Agriculture Bill and 25 year plan will give the UK a much-needed debate for what the nation wants from farming and the countryside in the 21st Century, Helen said.
“This includes the vital question of our role as a food producer, and can create much-needed certainty for farmers,” she added.
There is no need to wait, she says, because there is already consensus in Government, farming and the countryside that the new model must reward farmers who deliver the most public benefit.
“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 Trust will also be discussing and working with devolved administrations in securing a farming settlement post-Brexit that delivers nature-friendly, sustainable farming.


National Trust response to Greenpeace investigation into farm subsidies

Richard Hebditch, National Trust external affairs director, said: “We believe the current farming subsidy model needs fundamental reform – even if that means the Trust will receive less income for its land.

“Rather than being paid for how much land you happen to farm, a new model which delivers clear public benefit from the money being spent is within reach after Brexit.

“Farmers should receive a fair market price for safe and sustainable supplies of food, with public funding paying for the crucial role of protecting vulnerable natural resources, caring for our heritage and landscape and helping address issues like flooding and climate change.”


Horticulturalists from two National Trust gardens have been awarded top prizes in the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards 2017.

Croome, Worcestershire, was a double-award winner, taking home the ‘Best Parks Restoration/Development Project’ for the restoration of the 18th-century parkland, as well as the ‘Best Visitor-Engagement Event’ award for ‘Brown at Work’.  Bodnant Garden, Conwy, scooped the ‘Best Gardens Restoration/Development’ for the restoration of The Bath area of the Victorian garden.

The conservation charity looks after 173 registered parks and gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including 38 listed as Grade I.

Work to restore the parkland at Croome, ‘Capability’ Brown’s first large-scale commission, started when the National Trust acquired the park in 1996, following years of neglect and intensive arable farming.

Thanks to external funding of over £8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Natural England, English Heritage and others, and nearly 20 years of hard work by a team of gardeners, rangers and volunteers, the parkland has been returned to its 18th-century heyday.

National Trust Croome team with Lord Heseltine (C) Horticulture Week

The team from Croome accepting their award from Lord Heseltine (C) Horticulture Week


A £230,000 donation from Monument 85 and Croome Court Appeal Committee enabled the reinstatement of the lost Chinese Bridge over the river. Thousands of trees have been returned to their original positions, follies and temples have been repaired and the river and lake have been dredged.

‘Brown at Work’, an Arts Council England funded project supported by the Landscape Institute and CB300 celebrations, was a miniature landscape created at Croome in summer 2016. Tonnes of sand and simple tools enabled visitors to form their own landscape masterpieces that could be sculpted and re-sculpted by visitors to help them understand the ‘created’ landscape in which they walked.

Michael Forster-Smith, Croome’s General Manager, said: “It is fantastic that the hard work of our gardens team has been recognised by this prestigious national award. With the support of a number of generous donations and grants, one of Brown’s finest works has been returned to its former glory.

“Last year’s ‘Brown at Work’ installation was a captivating way to bring Brown’s creation to life for our visitors. While there is still work to do to at Croome, this is a great moment to reflect on how much has been achieved in a relatively short period of time. Our restored parkland is, once again, a meaningful and special place for all those who love spending time at Croome.”

The National Trust’s third award of the night came courtesy of Bodnant Garden, Conwy. Winning the ‘Best Gardens Restoration/Development Project’ award for the two year restoration of The Bath, a Victorian ornamental pool below the front lawn of the mansion, Bodnant’s garden team was rewarded for returning The Bath to a miniature exotic paradise, as it would have been in the late 19th-century.

Plans to restore The Bath were given new impetus following the winter storms of 2013/14. When an old oak tree came down, damaging walls and ripping up flower beds in the process, horticulture students working and studying at Bodnant Garden were able to develop a new planting scheme in the nearby beds.

In 2016, the walls around The Bath were repaired, plants removed and a new tropical plant scheme was introduced to take advantage of the sheltered microclimate area provides.

Bodnant Garden - The Bath in October

The stunning Bath at Bodnant Garden (C) Joe Wainwright


Bill Warrell, Bodnant garden supervisor, said: “To go from the devastation of the 2013 storms to this award is fantastic. It’s a credit and a real boost to the gardeners, students and volunteers who put in a huge amount of work, both repairing and renovating this lovely old part of the formal garden.

“We took the opportunity to do something ambitious and to create something fun and colourful that was a little different to the rest of the garden, while reflecting the Bath’s history. The Bath’s sheltered microclimate offered us the ideal opportunity for a little experimentation. Visitors have loved the results too and we’ve had many wonderful comments.”

Four other National Trust gardens and parks were nominated for awards, including Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire; Quarry Bank, Cheshire; Emmetts Garden, Kent and Chartwell, Kent.

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens for the National Trust, said “I’m delighted that the hard work of our horticulturalists and gardens and parks teams has been recognised with such prestigious awards and nominations. The teams that manage National Trust gardens and parks pride themselves on maintaining the highest standards of attention to historic detail, horticultural expertise and innovation while allowing our visitors to experience these incredible places for themselves.”

The winners were announced at a prestigious ceremony at Woburn Abbey House and Gardens Sculpture Gallery. Now in its second year, the Custodian Awards nominees were this year drawn from a list almost twice as long as the inaugural list in 2016.

The awards were judged by an independent panel including Professional Gardeners’ Guild (PGG) chair Tony Arnold, Horticulture Week technical editor Sally Drury, former City of London Corporation director of open spaces Sue Ireland, London Tree Officers Association executive member Dave Lofthouse and master gardener Alan Sargent.

Look forward to a summer of contemporary art at National Trust places

This summer, visitors to the National Trust will be able to explore and celebrate the places in its care through a series of creative programming, exhibitions, visual arts, crafts and architecture as part of its Trust New Art programme.

Trust New Art is a programme of contemporary arts run by the National Trust in partnership with Arts Council England since 2009.

Many Trust houses and gardens were built with art at their hearts, and Trust New Art continues this creative legacy, introducing new audiences to well-known and up-and-coming artists.

Exploring the often complex themes and collections of National Trust properties, Trust New Art offers a different way to approach the stories that have shaped some of the country’s best known houses, gardens and landscapes.

Visitors will be able to see a variety of new art, including large installations, film and theatrical performances, carving and sculpture.

Grace Davies, Trust New Art programme manager, said: “For over seven years, more than 3 million visitors have experienced Trust New Art, our rich and diverse programme of contemporary arts at properties across the country inspired by National Trust places.

“We are pleased to give visitors new opportunities to experience contemporary creativity that is rooted in our unique heritage, and this summer’s exhibitions and installations offer some diverse approaches to telling the stories of our places.”

Here is a selection of Trust New Art projects at National Trust places near you this summer.

Heather and Ivan Morison: Look! Look! Look! Berrington Hall, Herefordshire

From 10 June 2017

Morison pavilion at Berrington (C) Studio Morison

Look! Look! Look!, by internationally renowned artists Heather and Ivan Morison, reflects on the decadent social lives of the wealthy in the 18th century. The giant pineapple-shaped installation is inspired by the tradition of using temporary pavilions for entertaining and dining, and the Georgian passion for importing and eating new and exotic fruits – including pineapples.

Luke Jerram: Harrison’s Garden, Nostell Priory, Yorkshire

Until 09 July 2017

Luke Jerram Credit Helen Lisk Photography

Luke Jerram’s installation of 2,000 clocks celebrates the work of famous clockmaker John Harrison, who was born at Nostell. Experience this ticking installation as part of the 300th anniversary celebrations of Harrison’s first longcase clock. Harrison’s Garden will be touring to Castle Drogo, Devon (14 July-29 October), Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire (10 Feb-03 June 2018), and Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd (2018 – dates TBC), gathering clocks along the way.

Florence Kennard, Alida Sayer, Alec Stevens: The Makers, Felbrigg, Norfolk

Until 29 October 2017

The Makers install (Alec Stevens) - cr Paul Bailey 2

For ‘The Makers’, artists Florence Kennard, Alida Sayer and Alec Stevens have created new art works in response to the theme of craftsmanship at Felbrigg. Their film, sculpture and woodcarvings reveal hidden stories and surprising layers of history, giving visitors the chance to experience Felbrigg in a new light.

Hew Locke: The Jurors, Runnymede, Surrey


Runnymede- Hew Locke, The Jurors, 2015. Photo -¬ Max McClure.jpg

Hew Locke’s The Jurors was commissioned for the ancient landscape at Runnymede to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta in 2015. Wrought with beautiful imagery, the 12 bronze chairs invite you to reflect on the histories and issues shown, and to debate the meaning of justice.

Will Shannon: Bothy, Standen House and Garden, West Sussex

Until 03 September 2017

Bothy Standen.jpg

Will Shannon’s Bothy reflects the pioneering principles and production techniques of Standen’s Arts & Crafts heritage. Tucked away on Standen’s sandstone rocks, Bothy is a space to shelter, reflect and create, built using stained glass, simple furniture and materials found in the Sussex landscape.

 Bouke De Vries: War and pieces, Berrington Hall, Herefordshire

Until 05 November 2017

Bauke de Vries, War and Pieces.jpg

Taking inspiration from elaborate 17th-century sugar sculptures and banquets given on the eve of battle, de Vries has threaded the story of Berrington into this Arts Council England award-winning porcelain sculpture, transforming the dining room at Berrington Hall.

Bernar Venet at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire

Until mid-October 2017

©Courtesy the Artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Jonty Wilde.jpg

Ten large-scale sculptures, built from soaring steel arcs and bars, sit alongside the angular geometry of the formal gardens at Cliveden, Buckinghamshire. Created by Bernar Venet, seen by many as the world’s greatest living French sculptor, this installation is the first outdoor exhibition of Venet’s work in the UK since 1976.

 Agnes Jones, Lyndall Phelps, Tom Marshman and Matt Smith: World is Chaos, Creativity is Order, Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire

10 June 2017 – November 2017

Hanbury Hall -  Tom Marshman.jpg

Drawing parallels between the 18th century and today, Matt Smith, Agnes Jones, Lyndall Phelps and Tom Marshman’s new work uses steel, glass, ceramics and performance to explore how art can evoke histories, stories and a sense of place.

Bouke De Vries: Golden box, Croome Court, Worcestershire


The Golden Box, 2016. .jpg

Bouke De Vries’ original work entices visitors to Croome to walk through a reflective cube encrusted with exquisite pieces of Meissen, Worcester and Sèvres porcelain, responding to the theme of ‘expect the unexpected’ at Croome.

 Tony Plant, Mary Keith, Stan’s Café: Heartland, Shropshire Hills, Shropshire

Until October 2017

Shropshire hills.jpg

Over the course of the summer, through theatre, voice and physical interventions, Tony Plant, Mary Keith and Stan’s Café will explore the history, stories and future of the Shropshire Hills, helping visitors to understand the part they can play to continue caring for it.

Changing Places, national touring exhibition

July 2017 – February 2018

Changing Places (C) Film and Video Umbrella_Anna Arca

Changing Places is an exhibition of contemporary artists’ video, curated by Film and Video Umbrella. Linking the industrial transformations occurring across South Asia today with the places in Britain where the Industrial Revolution began, ten historic buildings, including the National Trust’s Quarry Bank, Cheshire, and Osterley Park and House, Greater London, will host moving image works by artists who all live in, work in, or retain a connection to Bangladesh, India or Pakistan, exploring the narrative of industrialisation and its global legacy.

 Andrew Logan: The Art of Reflection, Buckland Abbey, Devon

01 July 2017 – February 2018

Buckland - Andrew Logan . Photo Philippe Vogelenzang.jpg

The former home of Sir Francis Drake, Buckland Abbey, will welcome 18 sculptures selected from five decades of the career of renowned sculptor Andrew Logan. On display throughout the historic abbey and its grounds, a highlight of the exhibition will be Logan’s new jewel and painted glass portrait of Drake.

National Trust scoops Special Recognition Award at the Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence

Last night (17 May) the National Trust was awarded a one-off Special Recognition Award at the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence.

Nominated by a panel of expert judges made up of some of the heritage sector’s most senior leaders, the National Trust was rewarded for its creativity in visitor engagement, remarkable growth in visitor numbers and its fostering of creative partnerships.

Helen Ghosh accepting the award (C) M+H Awards

Dame Helen Ghosh accepting the Special Recognition Award on behalf of the National Trust (C) Simon Callaghan

Dame Helen Ghosh, Director-General of the National Trust, accepted the award on behalf of the Trust and thanked the assembled guests and wider heritage sector for their support: “The fact that we are able to reach out and touch so many people is because of all of you and what you do on a day to day basis.

“We are enormously lucky for that support and to be able to spend more than we have ever been able to on conservation and experiences that move, teach and inspire.”


The conservation charity also won the Best Educational Initiative for Potter and Ponder: Sensory Experiences at Croome Court, Worcestershire. The project was described as a “remarkable, creative and innovative story of engaging children with severe learning difficulties” by the judging panel.

The Trust’s Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, was shortlisted in the Project on a Limited Budget category for its Lost Treasures, The Imagined Mansion installation, but was beaten to the award by the Hallaton in the Great War Research Group.

The glittering awards ceremony was attended by hundreds of sector professionals. Now in its fifteenth year, the awards recognise the innovators and leaders in the museums, galleries and cultural heritage visitor attractions sector.

The awards were judged by a panel of sector experts including: Dr Diana Owen, Director, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; Maggie Appleton MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Air Force Museum; Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism, Historic Scotland; Bernard Donoghue, Director, ALVA; Diane Lees CBE, Director General, Imperial War Museums; Dr Matthew Tanner MBE, Chief Executive of the SS Great Britain Trust and Sam Mullins, Director, London Transport Museum.

To find out more about the awards, visit:


1920s Arts and Crafts garden returns to its heyday as five year restoration is completed at Standen

A five year restoration project at one of the country’s most important Arts and Crafts gardens has been completed at the National Trust’s Standen in West Sussex.

The impressive house at Standen, with its breath-taking views over the High Weald and Weir Wood Reservoir, was designed for James Beale and his family in the late 19th century by leading Arts and Crafts architect Philip Webb.

The 12 acre hillside garden, however, was designed by Beale’s wife Margaret and saw its heyday in the 1920s. An accomplished gardener and plants-woman, Margaret was inspired by a world tour in 1906-07 and created a series of outdoor rooms at Standen, including a scented rose garden – the Rosery – and a lime tree walk, along with more exotic areas with bamboo, ponds and lush foliage.

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Espaliered apple tree in the restored Kitchen Garden (C) National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Over ten years ago, a group of volunteers discovered the Beale family swimming pond while clearing out some overgrown bamboo in part of the garden. Following extensive research, the garden revival project began in 2012 and is one of the biggest that the conservation charity has undertaken.


James Masters, head gardener at Standen explains: “In the latter part of the 20th century, Standen’s gardens saw alterations and replanting which covered or removed some of the original features. When I was first investigating the undergrowth in areas of the gardens I realised there was much more than met the eye.

“Over the years our discoveries have included lost walls, a rock garden and rare and unusual plants all overgrown by the vigorous modern planting that had masked the original beauty of Margaret Beale’s design. So we were lucky to have a wealth of archive material that has helped us research how it would have looked, ranging from family photographs, maps and receipts, to Margaret’s garden diaries which she kept for over 40 years. These have enabled us to piece it together and bring the garden back to its best.”

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The Courtyard (C) National Trust images/Andrew Butler

Among the garden features that have been restored are:


  • The original swimming pond and rose garden growing Margaret Beale’s coveted China pink roses.
  • A fine oak trellis rebuilt to the original design by Philip Webb. Trellis is a feature in one of Arts and Crafts designer William Morris’ wallpaper designs which is used in the house.
  • Lime trees reinstated along Grandfather’s walk.
  • 10,000 tulips including rare varieties
  • The kitchen garden and the original espaliered apple trees.
  • New views opened from the top terrace across to the Ashdown Forest.
  • New Arts & Crafts inspired planting in the house courtyard.
  • The medieval quarry face revealed alongside the drive, which inspired the Beales to build Standen in this location.

The £500,000 funding for the restoration project included generous legacies to the Trust for the purpose of garden projects and properties in Sussex.

James Masters adds: “I look back at photographs from before we started the restoration to remind myself of the remarkable changes the team of staff and volunteers has made since then. We have worked so hard to do justice to this lovely lost garden and make it shine again and I hope our visitors will enjoy discovering something new down every path and around each corner.”

A new exhibition about the garden and its revival will be taking place in the house from 6 May to 3 September and will include many of Margaret Beale’s original documents that were used for the restoration. A tulip festival is also taking place and a midsummer celebration will include talks, teas and tours from 1 June.

For more information and opening times visit