Women and Power: National Trust shines a light on women’s histories to celebrate the anniversary of female suffrage in 2018

 

The long struggle for women’s suffrage and the debates it inspired across the homes, workplaces and communities of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be explored in 2018 as part of the National Trust’s commemoration to mark 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act.

The 1918 Act granted some women the right to vote in British parliamentary elections for the first time. A century on, the Trust will launch Women and Power, a year-long national programme celebrating this historic milestone.

Events, exhibitions, on-site tours and creative commissions will take place at properties with links to both sides of the suffrage movement. The Trust has also invited a number of contemporary thinkers and artists to reflect on the significance of the centenary of women’s suffrage at places around the country, including Knole, Wightwick, Cragside and Tyntesfield.

Edith, Lady Londonderry (C) National Trust Images_John Hammond cropped

Edith, Lady Londonderry (C) National Trust/John Hammond

 

Many Trust places have unique stories to tell about the people involved in the fight for women’s suffrage. They include:

  • Bodnant, Conwy, where suffragist Laura McLaren founded the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Union
  • Cliveden, Buckinghamshire, the home of Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons
  • Mount Stewart, County Down, where Edith, Lady Londonderry was an ardent suffragist and political campaigner, whose pro-suffrage behaviour caused her mother-in-law to label her ‘a young hound running riot’
  • Gunby Hall, Lincolnshire, the estate run by Emily Massingberd, who founded the Pioneer Club; a pro-suffrage members’ club for the advancement and education of women
  • Shaw’s Corner, Hertfordshire, home to playwright George Bernard Shaw, whose writings protesting the sexual double standard inspired the Pankhursts.

In contrast, the programme will also explore some of those who opposed women’s suffrage, including the Trust’s co-founder Octavia Hill, who speculated that ‘a serious loss to our country would arise if women entered into the arena of party struggle and political life’.

Over 100 other Trust places around the country will respond to the anniversary by giving greater prominence and depth to the stories and experiences of women from many periods of our history, some of which have been overlooked in the past.

They range from Bess of Hardwick at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, who wielded immense power 300 years before the right to vote, to Fanny Boscawen, who built Hatchlands Park in Surrey and was a founder-member of the Bluestocking Society, who held debates on women’s rights and access to education in the 18th century.

The Trust will also continue its successful partnership with the National Portrait Gallery with a series of special displays around the Women and Power theme, and will be collaborating again with The National Archives on a pop-up heritage project in London.

Rachael Lennon, curator of the Women and Power programme for the National Trust, said: “We can see the footprints of this intensely personal and political argument in the places and collections of the National Trust. A century on from the Representation of the People Act, our programme will reveal some of the debates heard in the drawing rooms, kitchens and bedrooms of National Trust places as the country fought openly over whether a woman might have a voice in public life.

“Women and Power will explore the complexity of the histories of power and gender and will give voice to the, sometimes hidden, lives and legacies of women who lived and worked across the special places now in the care of the National Trust.”

Over the course of the year, online and published resources will be available, including a podcast series and a new guidebook exploring the struggle for suffrage at Trust places, co-authored by the Trust’s Rachael Lennon and Dr Sophie Duncan, a specialist in women’s political activities and the suffrage movement at the University of Oxford.

Sophie Duncan said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping the Trust illuminate the vital stories of the women who shaped their properties. These eclectic, passionate and sometimes controversial women changed Britain forever, and the Trust is ideally placed to share their stories.”

Women and Power is the theme for the second year of the Trust’s ‘Challenging Histories’ programme. This national public programme aims to share, celebrate and unpick some of the more complex or hidden histories relevant to National Trust places.

For details of events and activities in the Women and Power programme for 2018 see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/womenandpower

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The final martial statue returns to Stowe after 100 years

The major restoration of Stowe Landscape Garden is now a step closer to completion.

The final statue in the martial series has returned to the National Trust-owned garden for the first time in nearly 100 years following extensive public support and donations for Restoring Stowe – The Landscape Programme.

A cast of The Wrestlers – two men taking part in the Greek sport pankration – will take its place at the heart of the Labyrinth in the Western Garden.

Stu snap

The Wrestlers is lowered into place at Stowe (C) National Trust/Stu Tilley

 

The statue’s return to Stowe follows the reinstatement of Hercules & Antaeus and Samson and the Philistine in 2016, and The Gladiator in the Grecian Valley on 25 October 2017.

Gillian Mason, National Trust curator, explains, “This is a significant year in our restoration of Stowe, the return of these statues reinstates layers of meaning back into the garden, reflecting its eighteenth century zenith.”

The Wrestlers is thought to have been introduced to Stowe in the 1730s along with the other martial statues. Purchased for Bridgeman’s extension of the garden of the same period, The Wrestlers was set within the Labyrinth looking out over Warden Hill Walk.

The Wrestlers is one of four statues that form part of a procession around the garden. Each statue depicts different styles of warfare: sporting competition, ignoble warfare/murder and noble warfare.

Many of the original statues were sold in the great auction of Stowe House in 1921 and 1922 when the decline of the aristocratic family led to bankruptcy. Now scattered all over the world, the National Trust seeks to return the originals where possible, or has sought permission to have faithful replicas cast.

Statement on AGM voting process

The National Trust magazine is sent to members three times a year in January, May and September. We always use the summer magazine (sent in May) to let members know when and where the AGM is being held, and to alert them to the information that will be sent with the autumn magazine.  This year the summer magazine carried a full page advert for the AGM. The AGM booklet which includes ballot papers is always sent to members as part of the autumn magazine mailing from early September and details are also published on our website.

This year’s postal and online voting was open from 4 September (the day the autumn magazine is sent) to 13 October 2017. Members were notified how, when and where they could vote both in the AGM booklet and online, alongside full details of the members’ resolutions.  Any member signed up to email communications from the Trust would also have received two emails about the AGM and their right to vote before voting closed. Details are also published in the members’ handbook.

The 2017 AGM saw a 128% increase in the number of votes cast, from 27,881 (2016) to 63,804 (2017). Our voting process was overseen by an independent scrutiniser.

Our voting procedures do not stipulate a minimum turnout for voting on members’ resolutions.

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Collection of rare ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle

Collection of rare ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle

  • Chance discovery of nearly two hundred coins that span twenty five centuries
  • Collection includes rare, almost ‘complete set’ of coins minted for Roman emperors
  • Coins to go on display in new exhibition marking ten years since the house opened to visitors

 

 A vast collection of ancient coins has been discovered tucked away in a drawer at the National Trust’s Scotney Castle in Kent. The unique set, comprising 186 coins in total, spans twenty-five centuries of history.

The discovery includes pieces from far-flung locations across the globe, including Syria and China. Others come from closer to home, including a late eighteenth century Welsh bronze token.

Ancient coins discovered at Scotney Castle_©MOLA

Ancient coins discovered at Scotney (C) MOLA

 

Scotney Castle was the home for 200 hundred years of the Hussey family before it was left to the National Trust who opened the mansion house to visitors in 2007.

The coins were found by Trust volunteers while searching for photographs in a study drawer. Research into family diaries in the archive suggests the coins were amassed during the nineteenth century by avid collector Edward Hussey III and his son Edwy.

The coin collection reaches as far back as Archaic Greece, with a seventh century BC piece. This silver token is one of the earliest struck in Europe, and comes from the tiny island of Aegina. It features a clear depiction of a sea turtle – a creature sacred to Aphrodite.

The bulk of the collection is made up of Roman coins, ranging from the late second century BC to the late fourth century AD. It is possible that the Husseys, like many collectors, were trying to gather a ‘complete set’ of Roman rulers. Despite the difficulty of this – Roman succession was complex and many coins of the shorter reigns very rare – they were close to achieving it.

The collection of first century emperors (leaving out empresses and caesars) is missing just one piece.

The second century collection is remarkable too, again only lacking a single coin of the short lived Didius Julianus who reigned in AD 193.

Nathalie Cohen, National Trust archaeologist, says, “We know that Edward and Edwy Hussey had a great interest in collecting, but this considerable cache of fascinating coins shows just how much their interest grew into a collection of exceptional importance. What is a mystery though is why a collection of this calibre ended up at the back of a drawer.”

Diary entries reveal Edward and Edwys’ dedication to and interest in the coin collection. An entry in Edwy’s diary recorded that on 2nd February 1883 he ‘went to the British Museum with papa as he wanted to ask about some coins’. On 28th October 1894 Edwy ‘looked at the coin collection after dinner’.

The records also give insight into the purchase value of the collection in the nineteenth century. In Edward’s diary from 1823 the ‘Accounts’ section lists him purchasing ‘Coins’ priced from 4 shillings to 7 shillings and 6 pence.

Suggesting greater ambitions still for the collection, Edward’s memoranda books include a list of coins he wanted relating to English monarchs, alongside those outstanding from the Roman era.

Experts from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) have been consulted by the National Trust and consider eighteen of the coins to be ‘rare’ examples.

Julian Bowsher, the MOLA numismatic specialist who examined the coins adds, “It was a delight, as a coins specialist, to examine such a significant and diverse collection. A particular highlight was seeing Roman coins that rarely appear in Britain, such as those of the 3rd century emperors Balbinus, Pupienus and Aemilian, none of whom ruled for more than a year.”

Henrike Philipp, part of the volunteer team that found the coins at Scotney Castle says, “The Hussey family lived at Scotney for two centuries and collected a wealth of objects and memorabilia. Ever since the Trust took on the house we’ve been discovering things in drawers, cupboards and in the mansion archives, such as medieval papers, First World War diaries and books by celebrated landscape gardener William Gilpin.

“Discoveries of rare coins such as these don’t happen often, so this has been especially exciting. We can’t wait to see what we will find next.”

The coins will go on display as part of a new exhibition, Inside the Collection, celebrating ten years since the Trust opened the Scotney Castle mansion to visitors. Other objects on show include beautiful Ming vases, and letters from Wallis Simpson and Margaret Thatcher who both had close connections to the house. [1]

Inside the Collection opens 11am to 3pm, from 4 November to 4 February. Access is by timed ticket. Free event, normal admission applies. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle to find out more.

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.
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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.”

TOP PRIZES FOR NATIONAL TRUST GARDENS

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.