New technology saves exquisite Tudor stained glass

Visitors to The Vyne in Hampshire can witness a unique project to conserve beautiful 16th-century stained glass windows in the Tudor Chapel. Having survived Civil War armies and Second World War bombing raids, this precious glass is now under attack from a new enemy.

The Chapel contains the finest stained glass in our care, considered to be among the most beautiful 16th-century glass in Europe. Famous for its jewel-like clarity, it features images of King Henry VIII, who visited The Vyne several times, as well as his sister Margaret and first wife Catherine of Aragon, together with their patron saints.

But condensation is eating away at it, causing pitting and corrosion. Thankfully modern technology is coming to the rescue. The glass is being removed so that it can be re-fitted with state-of-the-art protective glazing by specialists Holy Well Glass.

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudow window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne's chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Stained glass conservator Steve Clare removes Tudor window depicting King Henry VIII, from The Vyne’s Chapel ©National Trust Images James Dobson

Scaffold platform offers once-in-a-lifetime view

As the stained glass is removed, the empty window spaces will be temporarily filled with clear glass featuring simple lead tracery that matches the outline of the original imagery. This will offer a previously unseen perspective of the Chapel during the work from a scaffold viewing platform.

‘Our viewing platform will give visitors a fantastic view of the Chapel’s other historic features,’ says house steward Dominique Shembry. ‘These include the incredible detail on the Tudor wooden stalls, which are carved with heraldry, plant motifs and cherubs, and the 18th-century trompe l’oeil artwork on the walls.’

Get up close to superb Tudor craftsmanship

The viewing platform also provides a unique opportunity to study up close the superb workmanship of the Chapel’s central window. This stained glass, depicting the crucifixion of Christ, has already been successfully fitted with new glazing as part of a pilot project and is remaining in place.

The external wire grills currently covering the Chapel windows are also being removed so that the stained glass can be seen in its original 16th-century splendour when it returns later in the year.

The Vyne Chapel - L to R Henry's sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

The Vyne Chapel – L to R Henry VIII’s sister Queen Margaret of Scotland with St Margaret of Antioch, ©National Trust Images, Helen Sanderson

Technology captures conservation in action

A new exhibition reveals more about the stories portrayed in the stained glass and the legends surrounding its mysterious past. There’ll also be a chance to examine some of the original glass before it’s reinstated in the Chapel.

Film footage of the conservators working on the glass in their studio will be captured using audio-visual technology supplied by Panasonic, including wearable cameras.

This, together with time-lapse photography of the glass being removed from the Chapel’s windows, will be projected into a new exhibition space, giving visitors a unique opportunity to follow the work as it progresses.

A Tudor power house

The Chapel, together with the Oak Gallery, are the most complete surviving Tudor interiors at The Vyne which was the home of Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys. Sandys entertained Anne Boleyn at The Vyne, but was later to escort her to her prison in the Tower of London.

 

 

Worrying decline in days out by the coast

Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood

Children enjoying the coast at Yaverland, Isle of Wight. Credit Steve Haywood

A YouGov study has revealed a worrying 20 per cent decline in the number of people visiting the coast since 2005. The research we commissioned also found that over half the nation hasn’t had a single day trip to the coast in the last year.

A steady decline in the nation’s feelings of connectedness to the coast, particularly in young people, was also confirmed by the comparative study of 9,000 people over the last decade. Only one in seven 18-24 year olds felt that their happiest childhood memory is being by the sea, which is half the national average.

Not having enough spare time was given as the biggest reason stopping people hitting the shores. Other barriers were that the coast is too busy when the weather is nice, too expensive and lacks easy transport links. Many people said they would rather go abroad.

Island nation’s pride in the coast

Yet nearly 90 per cent of adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think of our coast as a national treasure, the research showed. And the majority of people agreed that it’s important for children to experience the UK’s seaside.

There was an overwhelming sense of pride and affection for our shores with over three quarters of people agreeing that our coastline makes the UK a better place to live and more than one in five day dreaming of the coast during everyday life.

‘The UK coastline is a magical place and can offer such a diverse range of experiences – from a coastal walk to rock-pooling and just feeling a sense of freedom when kicking off your shoes,’ said Gwen Potter, our wildlife and countryside ranger and coastal champion. ‘I think the coast offers a real sense of togetherness when you visit with loved ones, which is what makes it so special to me.’

Celebrating the coast

To reignite the nation’s love of the coast, we’ve got one of the country’s most celebrated poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, to write the first half of a new poem, the ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’. We now want you to help finish the poem by sharing your memories and love of the coast using #lovethecoast.

To help the nation reconnect with the coast and get people planning their seaside visits again, we’re also bringing a little bit of the coast to cities across the UK. A full sensory coastal experience in the form of a giant shell, the ‘Shellsphere’ will radiate aromas of salty sea air and seaweed, the sounds of waves and seagulls and magical interior lighting.

Raising awareness of the role we play in caring for the UK coast, the Shellsphere will be embarking on a nationwide tour to London, Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast from 19-31 August 2015.

National Trust statement on the maintenance of Dorneywood

It has been a condition of the bequest to the National Trust since 1954 that Dorneywood is held as a Ministerial home.

Under the terms of the bequest, the Dorneywood Endowment Trust was established as a separate charity to care for the house and gardens. The relationship between the Dorneywood Trust and the National Trust is therefore effectively that of a tenant – landlord.

In 2014 we negotiated a lease with the Dorneywood Trust after identifying significant maintenance costs for the property, totalling around £1m. As part of the new lease, we agreed to provide a voluntary grant towards the upkeep of Dorneywood of £75,000 a year. This will continue for five years. The grant is a contribution towards the essential maintenance of the building.

Under the lease agreement we have also opened up access to Dorneywood for visitors who can now visit the gardens from April to September on selected days, and the house for a limited number of days each year.

ends

 

Environmental groups call on the Prime Minister to intervene as ten green policies are scrapped

Within the first three months of the new government ten different environmental policies have been watered down or scrapped, according to analysis by a group of leading UK environment organisations.

These range from support for renewable energy technology and tax exemptions for low carbon vehicles, which have existed for over a decade, to privatisation of the Green Investment Bank and the scrapping of the Green Deal, the establishment of both being achievements celebrated by the last Conservative-led government.

Protection for the natural environment has also been weakened with a u-turn on a ban on fracking in protected areas. And the UK has cited an ‘emergency’ to exempt itself from an EU-wide ban on neonicotinoids.

Environmental leaders have called on the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, to clarify his government’s approach to environmental protection and climate security in what is a vital year for action on climate change.

In a public letter to the Prime Minister, written in response to the findings, the heads of the UK’s leading environmental groups said:

“We welcomed the Conservative manifesto commitment to ‘being the first generation to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than that in which we found it’. Unfortunately, ten green policies which could have helped you to achieve these goals have been cancelled or weakened in the past three months. These policies were developed over many years, often with cross party backing, and with the support and involvement of many businesses and charities. Only one of these decisions, to end subsidies for onshore wind, was a commitment from your manifesto. We have, as yet, seen no positive new measures introduced to restore the health of our environment or grow the low carbon economy.”

Responses to the analysis:

Dame Helen Ghosh, director-general, National Trust, said:
“We are keen to play our part in meeting the big environmental challenges of today – climate change and the catastrophic decline in wildlife and habitats. We see their impact day by day in our places.  But Government has to play its role in setting the right regulatory and fiscal framework – and the recent shift in policy positions is worrying.”

Shaun Spiers, chief executive, CPRE, said:
“The Government’s commitment to neighbourhood planning and making better use of brownfield land is very welcome, but its overall record on the environment has been woeful. The Prime Minister clearly cares about the countryside and the wider environment, and recognises that strong environmental policies support a strong economy. He must now assert himself and ensure that his government lives up to its promises rather than taking decisions that we all regret in the long run.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive, The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“This list of recent policy reversals is shocking, and shows disregard for the health and wellbeing of current and future generations, as well as for the environment we all depend on. The Prime Minister should reset the government’s path as a matter of urgency, by reinstating these policies and bringing in truly visionary legislation like a Nature and Wellbeing Act.”

Craig Bennett, chief executive, Friends of the Earth, said:
“This all out attack on green policies undermines UK efforts to tackle climate change ahead of global talks in Paris, and sets back our renewables industry when other countries are speeding towards clean energy and green jobs.

“Over-turning the science-led ban on toxic pesticides may be illegal as well as irresponsible at a time when bees need protection.”

David Nussbaum, chief executive, WWF UK, said:
“This watering down of environmental commitments is short-sighted and short termist. As the world races ahead to develop new green technologies the government’s international standing is at risk unless the Prime Minister takes up the reins of his government and shows he is serious about establishing a long term framework for investment in renewables and positioning the UK as a leader in protecting the environment.  Thankfully – so early in this new parliament – he still has the opportunity to do so.”

Mike Clarke, chief executive, RSPB, said:
“The Conservative manifesto made a moving statement that our moors and meadows, wildlife and nature, air and water are a crucial part of our national identity and make our country what it is. For this to be credible, we will need to see a long term plan for the natural environment matched by actions across government, not a legacy of empty rhetoric.”

John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace UK, said: 
“Since the election, we have been moving from the ‘greenest government ever’ to the ‘greyest government ever’. This is not the mandate this government put to the country in the general election. And it will be a hard sell to the international community at the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year. Without any real domestic action to tackle climate change this government will lose any credibility to influence others.”

Stephen Joseph, chief executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said: 
“The changes announced by the Chancellor to vehicle excise duty have largely removed the financial incentive to buy a more efficient and less polluting car and fly in the face of the government’s environmental commitments.”

Analysis of changed policies

Changes to National Trust staff salary pension scheme announced

The National Trust has today (29 July 2015) announced its intention to close its final salary pension scheme (NTRDBS) to future accrual on 31 March 2016.  This follows a period of consultation with members of staff and the Trust’s recognised trades union Prospect.

The final salary pension scheme closed to new entrants in 2003 and therefore the proposed changes will impact around 1,200 members of staff or approximately 16% of our permanent workforce.

The closure comes as a result of the most recent valuation of the scheme in April 2014 which showed a deficit of £116m (as at 5 April 2014).  This figure has increased from £69m since our last three-year valuation in 2011.

Whilst we are going ahead with our plans to close our final salary pension scheme we have taken a number of steps to mitigate the potential impact on members of staff.  These include delaying implementation until 31 March 2016 and deciding not to remove the link with final salary.  As the result of the feedback we received during consultation we have also made positive changes to our original proposals for death-in-service and ill-health benefits from 31 March 2016.

On closure of the final salary pension scheme members of staff will be eligible to join 2,500 colleagues in our defined contribution pension scheme. In this scheme we match any contributions members of staff make between 4% and 10% although they can choose to contribute more if they so wish.

In order to safeguard accrued benefits we have agreed with the Pension Scheme Trustees to significantly increase our deficit recovery payments from £3m a year now to £8.5m a year from 2016. This will increase by CPI+1% year on year until 2029.

These proposed changes do not impact on the benefits of existing pensioners or deferred members of the defined benefit scheme.

From punk poetry to seashells and shovelled sands

The Clash, Plan B, The Arctic Monkeys, Elvis Costello and now… the National Trust. One of Britain’s most celebrated poets, Dr. John Cooper Clarke, has penned the start of a new poem reflecting the nation’s love affair with the coast, ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’, to encourage the UK to experience the coast this summer.

This summer the nation is invited to help finish the poem by sharing inspiring memories and their love of the coast using #lovethecoast

Punk Poet, Dr. John Cooper Clarke, has collaborated with the National Trust to pen the start of a new poem highlighting to the nation the powerful emotions our diverse coastline can convey and the care that is needed to protect it. The release of the poem will kick-start a summer-long campaign to encourage people to share their love for the awe-inspiring beaches, cliff tops, piers and more that make this island nation.

Punk Poet, Dr. John Cooper Clarke, has collaborated with the National Trust to pen the start of a new poem highlighting to the nation the powerful emotions our diverse coastline can convey and the care that is needed to protect it. The release of the poem will kick-start a summer-long campaign to encourage people to share their love for the awe-inspiring beaches, cliff tops, piers and more that make this island nation.

John Cooper Clarke says of the project; “The sea has been a rich source of inspiration to me from year zero. It’s a glimpse of eternity available to every inhabitant, so I’m right behind the National Trust on keeping the coast beautiful”.

The public’s contribution will help inspire Dr. Clarke to create the rest of the verses of the poem, which will be unveiled in autumn. The contributions can take the form of words, pictures, social media posts or even seaside sounds.

Gwen Potter, wildlife and countryside ranger at the National Trust says, “We are asking the nation to get involved over the summer and share their favourite coastal memories – past, present and future – with us in any form to help us complete the poem and encourage people to reconnect with this majestic landscape.”

Launched in May 1965, the Neptune Coastline Campaign is one of the longest running environmental campaigns in western Europe and has resulted in the National Trust managing 775 miles of coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, equating to over 10% of the UK’s coastline.

Gwen continues, “Looking after the British coastline is a big responsibility… Several of our properties are iconic symbols of Great Britain – from the White Cliffs of Dover, to the Gower Peninsular and the Jurassic Coast – that are visited by people from all over the world. We also care for and protect many rare species of plant and animal life, so it is crucial that we continue to care for these important pieces of land.

Dr. John Cooper Clarke will also voiceover a specially commissioned TV and cinema ad campaign launching on 13th July.

Trust ‘hopeful’ of rebuilding fire-hit stately home

The National Trust today said it hoped to rebuild, in some shape or form, Clandon Park, the 18th century mansion which was reduced to a shell following a devastating fire.

The house, near Guildford, Surrey, suffered extensive damage in the blaze which ripped through the building on April 29. The roof and floors collapsed, the rooms were destroyed and thousands of items are feared to have been lost in the flames.

The external walls however remain largely intact and a specialist team are planning the archaeological salvage operation to recover further items from the building.

The conservation charity said the full extent of the damage remains unknown as structural engineers and insurers continue to assess the site.

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Photo: Chris Lacey

But despite the many uncertainties, the Trust said it was hopeful that Clandon could be rebuilt and would have a long-term future.

Helen Ghosh, director-general of the Trust said: “We’re hopeful that one day we can rebuild Clandon but quite how, when and in what form is far from certain at this early stage.

“The house has been left a shell, with the inside of the building almost completely destroyed. We’re still awaiting guidance from the structural engineers on the safety of the house.

“As we get more information on the extent of the damage, we will be able to take a clearer view on the potential options for Clandon.

“Despite the uncertainty, we would like to reassure all those people who love Clandon as much as we do that it will continue in some shape or form in the future.”

Work will begin shortly to erect scaffolding around the building. Once the scaffolding work is complete and the building confirmed as safe to enter, the painstaking salvage operation can start again.

Significant items from the collection were rescued from the fire during the initial salvage operation including paintings, furniture and silver.

Meanwhile further details of over 350 items rescued have been confirmed including Onslow family photographs, personal mementoes belonging to the 6th Earl of Onslow relating to his time as a prisoner of war, and a silver christening mug.

Poignant and personal mementoes of the Onslow family that have been saved include:

  • A metal prisoner-of-war identity badge worn by the 6th Earl of Onslow in Offlag 79, a prisoner-of-war camp in Brunswick, Germany, where he was imprisoned during the last months of the Second World War.
  • A tie-pin cushion made after the 6th Earl of Onslow’s return from war from the hoof of ‘Queenie’ one of his horses that had served him and had been destroyed because of the shortage of food.
  • The 4th Countess of Onslow’s dinner book of guests and menus for dinner parties. It covers the period 1875-1910 and includes a Parliamentary Dinner from 1908.
  • Two framed photographs of Lady Teresa Onslow as a baby; she later married the journalist and author Auberon Waugh.
  • Photograph of Arthur, 6th Earl of Onslow, and his wife, surrounded by their dogs and caged birds
  • Speaker Sir Richard Onslow’s (1654-1717) silver christening mug.
  • State Purse and metal embroidered red State stocking worn by the ‘Great Speaker’ Arthur Onslow (1691-1768).

    State Purse of Speaker Arthur Onslow as Chancellor to Queen Caroline of Anspach (wife of George II); worked in silver thread with the arms of George II.

    State Purse of Speaker Arthur Onslow 

Sophie Chessum, the curator who is leading the National Trust’s conservation team at Clandon Park comments:

“We are so pleased that so many significant Onslow family portraits and associated historic artefacts were saved.  Three Onslow men have held the office of Speaker of the House of Commons, a unique achievement, and to have rescued their portraits and the Great Speaker’s State Purse is wonderful. We are looking forward to re-uniting the three portraits which had to be cut from their frames on the night of the fire with their elaborate gilded frames.

“We were greatly relieved that the Speakers’ Parlour has survived the fire and the frames were discovered unharmed several days after the fire.  Also rescued was the huge carved and gilt chair that stood on the Stone Stairs. This 250 year old chair might have been a gift to Arthur Onslow, known as the Great Speaker, to commemorate his retirement from the post he held for 33 years.”

It won’t be possible to confirm the full list of items saved or lost until the final assessment and salvage operation is completed.

Photographic, 3D laser and geophysical surveys are all helping with the assessment of the site along with new aerial footage of the building which can be viewed here