Ipswich, MA – April 20, 2012 – The British did come to Massachusetts on Patriot’s Day, but this time it was for a most enlightening talk by the chairman of the National Trust, Sir Simon Jenkins hosted by The Trustees of Reservations at Castle Hill. A noted journalist and author, Sir Simon is touring with the Royal Oak Foundation in part to promote his new book, A Short History of England. His invigorating lecture, however, focused on the National Trust’s new program of “Bringing Places to Life” as a way of re-inventing the traditional historic house tour.
Creative and thought-provoking, Sir Simon does not shy away from controversial ideas in order to promote a new way of experiencing the English Country House. Some examples include allowing visitors to sit on the furniture, to pull out and read the library books, and to keep the dirt, clutter and general disarray of an average household just that way – lived in. As he stated, “A house lived in by the family which built it, or at least whose story can be traced in its walls, furniture and pictures, is worth a dozen sterile museums.” He introduced ways to invite the visitor to experience actually living in the house, without white gloves and prohibitory signs. Such tours have been introduced at places like Upton House in Warwickshire, where visitors can relax on a 1930s club chair and read an old magazine, play the piano, and find messages in coat pockets.
Sir Simon charmed the crowd of 130 people in the Great House at Castle Hill on Monday evening after a day of touring the Crane Estate and Appleton Farms. He will also continue his tour in New York and California. This is the first lecture resulting from a new partnership between The Trustees of Reservations and The Royal Oak Foundation, the American friends organization of the British National Trust.