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Decline of the National Trust

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How did the National Trust end up in this sorry state?

In the heritage world, David has just beaten Goliath. This week, Tim Parker, chairman of the National Trust, resigned after seven years in the role – and just 24 hours after a rebel group of members launched a bid to depose him at the annual general meeting.

We cancelled our membership because in our eyes it isn’t worth the money. Expensive mediocrity all over the place.

Restore Trust – of which I am a member – was only founded last month. It already has 10,000 supporters and a fighting fund of £50,000. It was founded to restore the trust to its original aims – to concentrate on conservation, an aesthetic experience, a sense of place, a feeling of welcome and an apolitical ethos. It has claimed a major scalp in the shape of Tim Parker.

I hope Restore Trust succeeds, but we won’t be going back. For example the observation below rings a very loud bell with me – in our experience National Trust baby language was everywhere.

It’s not just the lack of attention to detail; baby language was everywhere at trust properties. At Osterley Park, the elegant Adam house on the fringes of west London, the servants’ quarters were decorated with a sign saying: “It was the scullery maid’s job to empty and clean the chamber pots every morning. A very smelly job.” A tree stump at Hughenden had a sign next to it, reading: “Please do not climb on me.”


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