Kingston Lacy explores the life and exile of William John Bankes as part of National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme

EXILE – 18 September – 12 November, Kingston Lacy, Dorset

A bold new installation at the National Trust’s Kingston Lacy in Dorset marks fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

It examines the exile of former owner William John Bankes and reveals both its significance for understanding the house that is seen today and its relationship to the ongoing challenges faced by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LBGTQ) community.

William John Bankes, explorer, scholar and art collector, inherited Kingston Lacy in 1834 and set about transforming the house into a Venetian Renaissance palazzo.

William John Bankes, credit NT Images 

In 1841 he was caught with a soldier in ‘an indecent act’ at a time when intimate relationships between men could be punishable by death.

Bankes had narrowly escaped prosecution for a similar incident a few years earlier, so on this second occasion he felt he had no choice but to leave the home he loved for exile in France and later Italy.

From abroad, however, he continued to commission and collect art and other treasures to send back to Kingston Lacy with instructions on how they were to be displayed and with designs for decorative schemes.

EXILE will enable visitors to learn more about Bankes’ exile and his contribution to the house and its decoration from afar, and also consider his extraordinary story within a broader context of intolerance and persecution of LGBTQ lives from Henry VIII to modern times.

EXILE features three distinct installations, linked by a series of new interpretive panels. As visitors enter the house, they will encounter ‘In Memoriam’, a tribute to the 51 men who were hanged under laws that criminalised same-sex acts during Bankes’ lifetime. It is a reminder of the brutality of the times and the context of his actions.

In Memoriam, installation in the entrance hall, credit National Trust/Steve Haywood

Further into the house, the second installation – ‘Displaced’ – uses projection and sound to make connections between Bankes’ story and the ongoing persecution of LGBTQ people, drawing on contemporary experiences of those forced to leave their homes in the UK and abroad.

The final installation – ‘Prejudice, Persecution, Pride’ – sets Bankes’ story within a global history that examines how the law has shaped – and continues to shape – LGBTQ lives. Facsimile copies of legal documents from the Parliamentary Archives will be exhibited alongside a timeline that reveals familiar and surprising stories of persecution and intolerance, liberation and equality.

The installation at Kingston Lacy is part of the National Trust’s ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme which is celebrating the stories of LGBTQ people at a number of its places and acknowledging the contributions they have made to history and society.

The Spanish Room at Kingston Lacy, credit NT Images/John Hammond

The programme has been researched and developed by the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) in collaboration with the National Trust and with support from Stonewall.

John Orna-Ornstein, National Trust Director of Curation & Experience says: “Kingston Lacy holds a story that deserves to be known more widely – as with all those we have researched and shared through our ‘Prejudice & Pride’ programme. These stories show how deeply and widely LGBTQ heritage goes back into our shared history and how this resonates with our lives today.”

Professor Richard Sandell of the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries says: “Historic sites hold enormous potential to tell stories that not only illuminate our understanding of the past but which also offer us opportunities to look differently at the world today. Our collective aim in researching and developing EXILE has been to offer visitors an enhanced appreciation of the house and its beautiful collections but also the chance to reflect on how that history is entwined with a bigger, ongoing story about the law and LGBTQ equality.”

The rainbow flag will be flown at Kingston Lacy from 18 September, the day that William John Bankes went into exile, until 12 November.

Visitors can see EXILE at Kingston Lacy from 18 September to 12 November. Entry is by timed entry tickets. For opening times, booking information and further details or phone on 0344 249 1895.



Natural water management scheme could be important new source of profit for upland farms post-Brexit, and protect vulnerable communities from flooding

England’s struggling upland livestock farmers could earn over £15,000 profit a year by entering into private water management contracts with businesses and organisations in areas susceptible to flooding, according to new analysis by Green Alliance and the National Trust.

Upland farmers are losing £10,800 a year, on average, and it is feared that many will go out of business when Common Agricultural Policy subsidies end in 2022. But a new report shows that a new private market in water management services could be a source of profit for upland farmers, ensuring they can continue as the stewards of some of the UK’s most treasured and inspiring landscapes. The market would be based on a new model called a Natural Infrastructure Scheme, first proposed by Green Alliance and the National Trust in 2016, centred on the provision of ecosystem services such as natural flood management.

Drawing on the latest data and modelling, the analysis uses a hypothetical scheme in north west England to demonstrate how it could work and who would benefit. This area is home to nearly 1,800 upland livestock farms. The example revealed that:

• A scheme managed jointly by a group of ten upland farmers, selling natural flood management services, would be able to protect a downstream town against a severe 1 in 75 year flood event, and reduce levels of water pollution.

• In this example, susceptible organisations downstream would buy into the scheme, such as Network Rail, the local electricity supplier and the local water and sewerage company [4]. These organisations would otherwise spend £11.23 million over a 15 year period to achieve the same level of protection from flooding and water contamination.

• Creating and operating the Natural Infrastructure Scheme would cost the farmers £6.53 million over 15 years. This includes lost agricultural income from the land used for the scheme.

• The overall cost saving from the scheme would be £4.7 million. Split equally between the buying organisations and the farmers, the buyers would save £2.35 million between them over 15 years, and the ten farmers would each earn £15,658 in profit per year for 15 years.

The new report urges the government to help this new market to take off, including encouraging alternative approaches to flood risk planning and procurement and setting a framework and targets in the forthcoming 25 year plan for the environment to stimulate the market.

There is also a key role for post-Brexit agricultural policy, in nurturing new market-based mechanisms to support sustainable farming and land management.

In 2017-18 the National Trust and Green Alliance will be working with leading land managers and water companies to test the NIS concept in a real setting.

Mat Roberts, group sustainability strategy director at Interserve, said:
“The disruption to agriculture and environmental management caused by exiting the EU presents an opportunity for new markets for ecosystem services.  The science and economics that underpins these can’t currently compete with CAP payments.  The NIS could help release private investment, enabling the UK Treasury to co-invest alongside the private sector in the uplands of the UK. This would help sustain fragile rural communities, improve infrastructure resilience, start to reverse biodiversity loss and increase carbon sequestration.”

Patrick Begg, rural enterprises director of the National Trust, said:
We believe the current farming subsidy model needs fundamental reform.  Rather than being paid for how much land you happen to farm, a new model which delivers clear public benefit from public money is within reach after Brexit.  But there’s an even bigger prize to be had.  The NIS will open up new avenues for business to play its part in restoring a healthy, functioning natural environment.  We need to grab this chance to make farming fit for the future whilst safeguarding our countryside for future generations.”

Paul Tipper, head of wastewater network and strategy at United Utilities, said:
“Catchment management allows us to work in partnership with farmers and landowners to deliver water improvements more efficiently than through traditional approaches. We have been exploring a number of innovative funding mechanisms and the natural infrastructure scheme is a welcome addition.”

Laura Mann, project lead for EnTrade, an online platform that facilitates efficient catchment spending, said:
“The NIS scheme is an excellent approach to deliver multiple benefits in a catchment in a cost efficient and environmentally beneficial manner. It complements the work that EnTrade has been doing in partnership with Wessex Water and United Utilities to obtain multiple outcomes in a catchment while also supporting farmers and the local economy.”

Shaun Spiers, executive director of Green Alliance, said:
“The Natural Infrastructure Scheme concept is economically viable and has so much to offer for farmers, businesses and communities at risk of flooding, as well as being environmentally beneficial. It’s amazing it hasn’t been thought of before. By facilitating this market, the government could help support some of our most vulnerable farmers through the Brexit transition, improve the resilience of vital infrastructure at lower cost, and improve the environmental health of some of our most historic landscapes, without increasing the burden on the public purse.”

Arctic tern booming in population thanks to resolute conservation efforts

A tiny bird which clocked up the longest migration ever recorded is booming in population thanks to conservation efforts on a stretch of coast recently bought by the National Trust.

More than 500 Arctic terns – and five internationally threatened little terns – have fledged thanks to rangers camping out on 24-hour watch against predators, such as stoats and foxes. In the previous year just two Arctic terns and five little terns, vulnerable to high tides and marine pollution, managed to take flight.

The National Trust has been carrying out the extensive conservation efforts for decades to keep the birds going on the Northumberland Coast.

This summer the charity acquired 200 acres of land at Tughall Mill for £1.5million to ensure its vital conservation work can continue.

Only around 1,800 breeding pairs of Arctic terns return to the Long Nanny from Antarctica each year, between May and July. The Arctic tern hit headlines last year after one from the Farne Islands clocked up 59,650 miles in one migration, more than twice the circumference of the planet.

Tughall Mill has important wildlife habitats including saltmarsh, woodland, hedgerows, pasture and sand dunes. Many of the habitats being created and enhanced are priority habitats, identified as requiring special protection.

As custodians of this special place, the conservation charity is working to enhance the land’s mosaic of habitats, ensuring nature and wildlife can thrive, for the benefit of future generations.

The land was acquired through the Trust’s Neptune campaign which, for more than 50 years, has enabled the conservation charity to care for Britain’s coastline.

Simon Lee, General Manager of National Trust Northumberland Coast, said: “As an independent conservation charity, we are passionate about looking after special places for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature. Our investment in Tughall Mill offers a truly unique opportunity to do this. We already care for 12 miles of the Northumberland Coast and our team has considerable expertise in managing the land surrounding Tughall Mill. Now we will be able to take a more joined-up approach and look after the wider landscape helping wildlife and nature flourish, as well as safeguarding the site for future generations.”

In caring for the land, the National Trust will link up hedgerows to create wildlife corridors as well as improve woodland areas through the removal of non-native invasive species. The ranger team will also plant native woodland and hedgerow trees, and through careful grazing management, encourage native plant species found in the dunes and grasslands, including rare calcareous plants such as purple milk vetch and autumn gentian. This work will also allow the shorebird colonies, farmland birds and declining waders such as curlew, lapwing and ringed plover, to flourish.

David Feige, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Officer for the Northumberland Coast, said:

“The site at Tughall Mill is a very significant part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially as it hosts such an important colony of little and Arctic terns, and fantastic dune grassland. It also has great potential to support a wide range of other declining wildlife, and so the AONB Partnership is delighted that the National Trust has been able to buy this site and we look forward to seeing it flourish in the Trust’s care.”

Dune systems like those at Tughall Mill are one of fifty ‘priority’ nature habitats hand-picked by the government as needing support: the National Trust plans to create 25,000 hectares of these habitats by 2025 to help reverse the decline in wildlife and restore natural heritage on all the land in its care. For further information about Tughall Mill, visit

Dame Vera Lynn backs £1m appeal to secure future of White Cliffs

Dame Vera Lynn today pledges her support as the National Trust launches a £1 million appeal to further protect the future of the White Cliffs of Dover.

The conservation charity aims to buy 700,000 square metres of land immediately behind the clifftop which it secured in 2012. This will enable the restoration of habitat and land conditions, improve public access, and inspire future generations to connect with the heritage and history of the area.

The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent.Dame Vera, whose 1942 song about the cliffs helped forge her reputation as “The Forces’ Sweetheart”, said she was delighted the Trust had launched the appeal.

“Those iconic white cliffs mean a great deal to so many people,” she said. “They were often the first sight of home for our brave boys as they returned from war, and they continue to represent important British ideals such as hope and resilience even in the most difficult of times.

“It is vital that we do all that we can to preserve this important historical site – as well as the Cross Channel battery – for posterity, so that the memory of the past is never forgotten by future generations.”

The stretch of land is crucial for future nature and wildlife, with over 40 species of flowers and grasses per square metre. It also provides the perfect habitat for butterflies like the Adonis Blue and Marbled White, and birds including the peregrine falcon and skylark.

In addition, the site has a number of Second World War features, including two large gun emplacements, which represent a unique part of British history.

The Trust was made aware of the land’s availability after the vendor recognised the value of it supporting existing conservation work on the White Cliffs.

The land, adjacent to Wanstone farm buildings, known historically as Wanstone Battery, will enable the Trust to begin reverting and restoring the land to chalk grasslands, making the military structures watertight, and creating new access routes for visitors.

Virginia Portman, General Manager of the White Cliffs of Dover, says: “There is something very special about the White Cliffs and for many people the site represents part of our cultural heritage. This unique coastal habitat is teeming with wildlife and being adjacent to land already in our care will provide better management options for the area.

“The site should be open for the whole nation to enjoy. It would be devastating if we lost the opportunity to protect it forever. A successful appeal will not only allow us to secure the land but also educate and inspire future generations.”

The Trust is using money from its Neptune costal fund towards the cost of purchase, and is aiming to raise a further £1million by 22 September to secure the land. Donations that come in after 22 September, or after the appeal has reached £1 million, will support ongoing work to protect this and other precious coastal landscapes across the UK.

Money can be donated to the appeal online at


Summer holiday washout wipes out bumper season for wildlife

The summer holiday washout wiped out a bumper season for wildlife, National Trust experts said today.
Family holidays were not the only victims of recent wet weather, with wildlife suffering from extensive summer rain.
2017 was on course to being the best summer for wildlife in over a decade – ending a long run of cool damp summers after mild winters – until the jet stream jumped south just when the summer holidays began.
The conservation charity is working with its tenants and partners to reverse the alarming decline in UK wildlife, aiming to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat by 2025.
The weather, of course, influences this ambition, both positively and negatively.
Nature and wildlife expert Matthew Oates, said, “After a highly promising spring and early summer, the good weather was disrupted and the rains came down. This was especially damaging for warmth-loving insects, including many butterflies and bees.
“It means we haven’t had a genuinely good summer since 2006 – the wait goes on.  However, much of our wildlife certainly benefited from fine weather during April, May, June and the first half of July.”
For once, winter stayed within its normal parameters and a balmy spring ensured a successful nesting season for many birds, with rarities like the Little Tern doing well at Blakeney Point in Norfolk. Similarly, the good weather helped many flowers come into bloom ahead of the norm, including daffodils appearing in the Teign Valley woods as early as mid-February, while elder and dog rose also jumped the gun, appearing at the end of April – a month early.
Moderate temperatures also boosted the population of roe deer in parts of the country. Glen Graham, National Trust ranger at Wallington Hall, Northumberland, reported a much higher kid survival rate this year, which was attributed to milder conditions.
The good weather, including a midsummer heatwave, did help some insects to appear unusually early. This included the Purple Emperor butterfly appearing at Bookham Gardens, Surrey, on June 11th – the earliest siting since 1893 – while the rare and spectacular crane fly Ctenophora flaveolata was spotted at Maidenhead Thicket in Berkshire.
But the prospects for many winged creatures and other insect populations came crashing down as Britain experienced one of the wettest August’s on record. As well as disrupting breeding habits, extensive periods of wet weather threatens insects with viruses, pathogens and mould, and causes an unwelcome surge in grass growth. High summer and late summer weather was particularly dismal in the north and west.
Aside from a fine spell mid-month, and a moderate bank holiday weekend, August was wet and windy with temperatures struggling to reach the mid-twenties. However, the summer’s weather pattern – early heat followed by persistent rains – is likely to result in a good autumn for fungiii, and may well benefit spider populations too.
Matthew Oates added, “Our rangers are working closely with our tenant farmers to provide the right habitats for wildlife at our places, but as we all know, you can’t rely on the weather. The north has had a particularly rough time while the South East has had quite a good summer.”
The prospects look good for many autumn fruits, seeds, nuts and berries, reflecting a fine spring. There is a huge acorn crop, hawthorn berries are again profuse and there should be plenty of holly berries for Christmas. Unfortunately, what was an excellent crop of blackberries is rotting in the rain.
2017 may also go down as the summer in which ash dieback disease became prominent across parts of the UK. The infectious disease is worrying for conservationists as evidence points towards an increase in disease driven by fungi.

Statement on our trail-hunting review

“We introduced a number of changes last week in how we license trail ‘hunts’ to further safeguard conservation and access on our land.
“Our clear, robust, and transparent set of conditions – which follow a six month review – are designed to allow participants to enjoy this activity in compatibility with our conservation aims.
“We have been carefully listening to both sides of a highly polarised and passionate debate for years. During our review, we carefully weighed up those arguments, but our first priority is always to protect conservation and access on our land.
“Members will have the opportunity to discuss trail hunting and vote on the matter at the charity’s annual general meeting in October.”
·         Hunting wild animals was outlawed in England and Wales by the Hunting Act of 2004: National Trust land is no exception.  The law does allow what is known as trail ‘hunting’ to continue. It effectively replicates a traditional hunt but without a fox being chased, injured or killed.  The Trust does license trail ‘hunts’ in some areas and at certain times of the year, where it is compatible with our aims of public access and conservation.
·         It’s been a long standing licence condition for all hunts to publicly provide details of where and when they will take place on our land. This is not a new licensing condition and this information has never been a secret.
·         Currently, many people do contact hunts directly for the information they are entitled to have access to. However, they will then come to the Trust if they don’t get the detail they’ve requested. We believe people have every right to expect us to provide this information so they can, for example, avoid certain areas of countryside when a hunt is taking place or conversely to watch a hunt in their local area. Relying however on small, local teams to respond to a high volume of enquiries related to hunts is a labour-intensive and exhaustive process. It’s also an ineffective way of sharing this information in the digital age, lacking consistency and clarity.
·         As a charity with nearly 5 million members, we believe we should be transparent and to share information of public interest in an easily accessible way. That’s why we are planning to provide details of where and when hunts will take on the ‘outdoor licensing page’ of our website.
·         We believe it is right to minimise as far as possible the risk of foxes or any wild animal being accidentally chased during a trail hunt; moving to artificial scents is part of achieving that aim. We are not being prescriptive about the artificial scent used provided it is not animal based in any way.
·         We are making it explicitly clear to all parties that trail hunting, if properly practised, is legal and a legitimate outdoor activity. We will be approaching trail hunting bodies as well as the League Against Cruel Sports with the express aim of reducing as far as possible the potential for violent or abusive and obstructive behaviour by protestors or followers.
·         Like all policies this remains under review. Our members will have a chance to discuss and vote on this issue at the annual general meeting in October. Our Trustees will then meet to reflect on any motions and related debates.
·        We propose to publish on our website the area over which the hunt is licensed to carry out their trail hunting activity, together with the dates on which it will take place. We are not proposing to publish starting points, specific routes and times. We have met with the Masters of Foxhounds Association and Countryside Alliance to listen to their concerns and asked them to put forward any alternative proposals. We are also seeking the views of police. Both the MFHA and CA have acknowledged what we are trying to achieve and we will consider the proposals that they bring forward.
·         We also received a letter from tenants in the Lake District outlining concerns. We have responded and offered to meet them to discuss how we can ensure that trail hunting can operate safely.
·         We keep in regular contact with our tenant farmers. Since the creation of trail hunting post-2004 Hunting Act, we have been in charge of licensing this type of outdoor activity. We have always required trail hunts to gain tenant farmer consent for the trail hunt to cross their occupied land.
·         Tenants have never been the licensor: this is exactly the same as for other landowners. We have tightened rules so that the evidence of prior tenant farmer permission is written, not anecdotal.


Statement on hats for sale at Tatton Park

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

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