News

The Royal Oak Foundation announces the appointment of David Nathans as Executive Director & CEO

Thursday May 18, 2017

NEW YORK, NY – The Royal Oak Foundation, the U.S. affiliate of the National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland, has appointed David Nathans as its new Executive Director & CEO, effective May 15.

“We are delighted that David is joining Royal Oak, and he is a perfect fit to lead the Foundation through a period of growth,” said Lynne Rickabaugh, Royal Oak Chairman. “Royal Oak is very focused on increasing support and visibility in the United States for the National Trust’s priority initiatives. David has the proven ability to help us achieve this goal by deepening our engagement with members and patrons who share our commitment to historic preservation.”

Mr. Nathans comes to the Royal Oak with extensive nonprofit experience, most recently as the Executive Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, where he provided strategic leadership, program oversight, and effective management for the year-round history-focused museum. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the Emerson Gallery at Hamilton College. Mr. Nathans also has experience in the corporate sector, having worked in advertising, marketing and communications with Ogilvy & Mather, Merrill Lynch, and The Sydney Company. He graduated from Hamilton College and The Wharton School, and he also studied at the Winterthur Museum and England’s Attingham Summer School.

“It is an honor to be joining The Royal Oak Foundation, whose work I have long admired,” Mr. Nathans said. “I am particularly delighted to be working with Royal Oak’s board, staff, and members nationwide to contribute to and grow the Foundation’s essential preservation efforts in partnership with the National Trust.”

# # #

Established in 1973, The Royal Oak Foundation seeks to raise awareness of and advance the work of the National Trust of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland by inspiring support from the United States for the Trust’s efforts to preserve and protect historic places and spaces – for ever, for everyone.

The National Trust was founded in 1895 and today has more than four million members in the UK. It is the steward of more than 350 historic sites of outstanding interest and importance as well as 610,000 acres of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and over 775 miles of coastline.


Ian Murray has joined the Royal Oak Foundation as the Chief Financial Officer

Monday July 18, 2016

Ian

We are pleased to announce that Ian Murray has joined the Royal Oak Foundation as the Chief Financial Officer. Royal Oak, the U.S. membership affiliate of the National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland, selected Mr. Murray following an extensive search.

He has served as a board member for 28 years and most recently as President of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, the building in which the Royal Oak Foundation currently resides, an educational non-profit in NYC.  In 2010, he acted as the CFO of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, with responsibility for finance, human resources, grant development and membership.  He has consulted to several non-profit organizations on financial and accounting matters.

Prior to his non-profit experience, he was the senior operating partner of a start-up company in the lighting sector and an executive in the corporate banking division of UBS.

Ian received his undergraduate degree in economics from Cornell University and his MBA in finance from Pace University. Ian supports other organizations as a board member of The Hundred Year Association and as a CFO consultant for the Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership Inc.

The Royal Oak Foundation was established in 1973 to support the National Trust’s mission of historic preservation and promote cultural exchange through scholarships and internships. The National Trust was founded in 1895 and today has more than four million members in the UK. It is the steward of more than 350 historic sites of outstanding interest and importance as well as 610,000 acres of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and over 775 miles of coastline.

We are very excited to have Ian join the team.


Win Two Tickets to Churchill the Play in New York City!

Wednesday February 18, 2015

Churchill PlayExclusive offer! We’ve got two tickets to see Churchill the Play in New York this Sunday, February 22nd, at 3 PM, and we’ll be giving them away to someone who purchases a Royal Oak membership today or tomorrow!

To enter the drawing, purchase a membership for yourself, gift one to your friend, or renew your current membership before midnight EST tomorrow, Thursday February 18th. At checkout, enter “CHURCHILL” into the comments section and you’ll be registered to win. Purchase your membership here: www.royal-oak.org/join/

We’ll reach out to the winner Friday morning and send them their tickets digitally. Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to see the show on the opening weekend of its New York run! The Chicago Tribune gushed about its performances in the Midwest, saying “This earnest, honest and deeply reflective piece of original Chicago theater fills in those blanks even as it reminds us of how, in politics as in business, integrity, courage and relationships are what matter the most.”

Join


Registration Open for Spring 2015 Drue Heinz Lecture Series

Wednesday February 11, 2015
We are pleased to present our Spring 2015 line up of exceptional lectures and tours.
This season’s lecturers are:
  • Lord Sackville – The Sackvilles at Knole: The Disinherited
  • Michael Snodin- Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill
  • Dr. Michael Shelden – Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill
  • Gareth Williams – Dogs in the English Country House
  • Dr. Sean E. Sawyer – The Country House in the National Trust
  • Charles Hind – Palladianism, Four Centuries of Style
  • Dr. Tracy Borman – Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII
  • David Milne - A Walk Through Dennis Severs’ House
The Royal Oak Foundation’s national program of lectures is made possible by the continued generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust, our lead sponsor for the past 23 years.
Registration is now open at:
www.royal-oak.org/lectures
or by phone: 800-913-6565, ext. 201

Royal Oak Foundation Believes Important New York Tudor Revival Mansion Should be Preserved

Tuesday February 10, 2015
Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Our Executive Director, Sean Sawyer, wrote a letter urging the Teatown Lake Reservation to protect The Croft, a Tudor Revival mansion built in 1913 in Westchester County, New York, for the British-born antiques dealer, Arthur Vernay. The New York Times and The Telegraph in the UK recently wrote about the fate of this unique building.

Every part of The Croft house has been salvaged from castles, estates, and houses in England, including fireplaces from the 14th century, centuries-old timbers, and a jaw-dropping carved wooden staircase.

The Teatown Lake Reservation bought the land surrounding The Croft in 2010 and plans to sell the house for $125,000, with the stipulation that the new owner must remove it from the nature preserve. Unfortunately this means the house is likely to be demolished, pieces sold off and scattered; many will end up in landfill. We urge the Teatown Lake Reservation to reconsider this decision. Preservationists are advocating for a solution which would permit the house to remain at the same spot it has for over 100 years in its original environment. We believe the historic, built and natural environments can work together, just as we’ve seen with the many wonderfully preserved houses and landscapes that the National Trust protects, and hope for a solution which can benefit all parties involved.


 

RO_Letterhead_Directors_060314
Dear Ms. Landau and Mr. Carter:

I write to express The Royal Oak Foundation’s deep concern regarding Teatown Lake Reservation’s announced plans to demolish and disperse Arthur Vernay’s 1913 Tudor Revival mansion, The Croft.  We urge you to reconsider this plan and to preserve this historically and architecturally significant structure as a fundamental element of the reservation’s environment and mission.

As the American partner of the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this issue has particular resonance for us.  There is the historic significance of Vernay’s work as one of the preeminent antiquities dealers of the early 20th as well as his work as a designer, knitting together important architectural fragments into a thoughtful and cohesive whole to create his residence.  However, today these fragments have the greatest educational and architectural value as integral parts of his creation, not as architectural flesh once again rendered from its skeleton and put on the auction block. Indeed, today a majority  of people regard the routine demolition and dispersal of significant buildings that occurred in Vernay’s time as something to be avoided at all costs. The Croft is a unique and important work of architecture that has been deemed eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. I would hope that this fact would speak loudly to you as conservationists.

Indeed, The Croft is an integral and essential part of Teatown and, as I see it from the perspective of the National Trust’s 120 years of work in the UK, your conservation mission.  I hope you will take a broad view of what constitutes your environment and include all its aspects, natural or man-made, green or brown, historic or contemporary.  In this age of the “tear-down” and “McMansion” the preservation and reuse of The Croft in situ will be an important and very visible demonstration of the conservationist ethos in practice.

All those who have brought this issue to our attention have said what a dynamic and important organization the Teatown Lake Reservation is and how central to its communities its work is.  I urge you to reconsider and make The Croft, its stories and beauty, a part of the wonderful work you do.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Sincerely yours,

SES-sig-2013
Sean E. Sawyer, Ph. D.                  cc.     Jean-François de Lapérouse, Chairman

Executive Director                                 Yorktown Landmark Preservation Commission


New National Trust Exhibition Put’s JMW Turner’s Painting Materials on Display

Tuesday January 13, 2015

Get to the National Trust’s Petworth House, Sussex in the next three months to see celebrated artist JMW Turner, who spent time at the house in the 19th century. Turner is the subject of the biopic Mr. Turner, which is generating Oscar buzz this award season.

Experience Turner’s life and work first-hand on your next visit to England!

A pocket paint book, palette and brushes are going on display alongside other objects and mementoes that belonged to the artist JMW Turner.

A new exhibition opening on 10 January at the National Trust’s Petworth House in Sussex has been inspired by Mike Leigh’s recent film, Mr. Turner, and celebrates the life and work of the great landscape artist.

Turner’s pocket paint book. Credit Scott Ramsey

Turner’s pocket paint book. Credit Scott Ramsey

Turner visited Petworth House between 1809 and 1837 as guest of his patron, 3rd Earl of Egremont, and painted many works there. The house was used as a major location for the Mr. Turner film.

Visitors will be able to see the largest group of ephemera that belonged to Turner ever displayed, a number from private collections.

On show will be major loans of Turner’s paintings in oil and watercolour, from collections including Tate and V&A.

Timothy Spall as Turner in ‘Mr Turner’. Credit Simon Mein and Thin Man Films

Timothy Spall as Turner in ‘Mr Turner’. Credit Simon Mein and Thin Man Films

The exhibition will also include paintings and drawings by the actor Timothy Spall, created whilst he trained for his role as Turner in the film, displayed in the Artist’s Studio, a magnificent light-filled room in which Turner and other visiting artists socialised and painted.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

• Turner’s pocket paint book, palette and brushes, the fishing rod he used in the lake at Petworth, his coralline signet ring and gold watch.

• A selection of books from Turner’s personal library ranging from maps and travel-guides to historic and contemporary literature, scientific texts and books on art. They include his copy of Goethe’s famous Theory of Colour, in which Turner has written his own notes.

• A 12ft wooden easel, recently discovered in the attics at Petworth House, and believed to be the one depicted in Turner’s famous watercolour, ‘The Artist and his Admirers’. It is quite possible that the easel was used in the creation of the landscapes Turner painted for the Carved Room at Petworth House.

The Artist and his Admirers, by JMW Turner, depicts Petworth’s Old Library. Credit Tate Britain

• A watercolour of the Chelsea cottage Turner secretly shared with his Margate landlady and lover, Sophia Booth, under the name ‘Mr Booth’. The painting, by artist Alexander McInnes, was recently discovered on the BBC Antiques Roadshow.

• Rarely seen portraits of Turner, such as John Phillip’s touching late watercolour – possibly the last painted image of the artist before his death, and CW Cope’s oil sketch, one of the few visual records of Turner at work.

“Turner is an important part of the story of Petworth House,” says Andrew Loukes, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at Petworth.

“We’re thrilled to be able to celebrate his life and work with an exhibition exploring major themes of the film, such as travel, patronage, science, the Royal Academy and colour. We are indebted to Dr Jacqueline Riding, research consultant on Mr. Turner, and guest co-curator of the exhibition who helped us to amass this wonderful collection.

“We have 20 Turner paintings that reside permanently at Petworth House which visitors can also enjoy, alongside countless masterpieces by other artists in five historic show rooms, several of which featured in the film.”

Mike Leigh said: “Petworth wrote itself into the film rather than us having to think of possible stately homes; it is such an extraordinary, and rare, and rarefied place.

“When you’re in a place like Petworth and you’re saying, ‘OK, let’s pretend it’s 1828’ and you do all the research, and get into the costumes and breathe the air, you really do experience some kind of magic.”

Mr. Turner – an exhibition runs from 10 January until 11 March. Booking is essential, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house

Source: National Trust Press Office


Former National Trust Director Appointed Commander of the British Empire

Wednesday January 07, 2015

After nearly 30 years of service to the National Trust, the former Museums and Collections Director Sarah Staniforth has been appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours list.

Sarah Staniforth, Historic Properties Director, National Trust.

Former National Trust Museums and Collections Director Sarah Staniforth was appointed CBE in New Year Honours 2015. Credit National Trust / Chris Lacey

Ms Staniforth, who stepped down from her post this year to take an honorary position at the Trust, was credited for her services to National Heritage.

She was delighted to receive the award. “It’s honour enough to have worked for the National Trust for nearly 30 years and also to contribute to other heritage charities in the UK,” she said. “To be recognised in this way is completely overwhelming.”

Ms Staniforth, from Cheltenham, is regarded both inside and outside the charity as an international authority on conservation practice and is held in great affection by her colleagues. She continues to demonstrate her commitment to looking after heritage in her role as President at the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC).

More recognition for National Trust staff and volunteers

Other National Trust staff and volunteers recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list include volunteer and former National Trust Council Member Dr Patrick Morris.

Dr Morris, from Ascot, was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the Natural and Historic Environment. He was Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway, University of London, and is well known for his studies on mammal ecology and his expertise in taxidermy.

Former National Trust Director for the North West, Tiffany Hunt, was also awarded an MBE for services to Heritage. Ms Hunt, from Cartmel, spent more than 25 years at the Trust before moving on to other charitable organisations, including her current role as NW Regional Committee member at Heritage Lottery Fund.

British Empire Medals awarded

Volunteer June Davey, who has been a room steward and tour guide for more than a decade at Clandon Park, was awarded the recently reinstated British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Heritage.

The Trust’s former Head Gardener at Mottisfont Abbey, David Stone, was also awarded the BEM for services to Horticultural Heritage. Mr Stone dedicated more than 30 years to the Trust and riverside gardens at Mottisfont before retiring earlier this year.


Important Tax-Free Giving Opportunity

Monday December 22, 2014

President Obama just signed legislation to extend the IRA Charitable Rollover provision. If you are at least 70 ½ years of age, have your funds transferred today to make this special tax-free contribution. You must act by December 31, 2014.

Transfers are subject to the following criteria:

  1. You must be at least 70 ½ years of age
  2. The contribution must come directly from your IRA administrator to Royal Oak (Royal Oak can provide a form letter of instruction for your use. Download a sample here)
  3. The contribution must be from an IRA or Roth IRA, not other retirement plans
  4. The total amount you choose to transfer to a qualifying charity cannot exceed $100,000
  5. The funds transferred will not be includable in your taxable income but can be considered to satisfy the minimum distribution you are required to withdraw each year from your IRA

There is only a brief period of time that you can take advantage of the legislation.  Have your funds transferred today to make this special tax-free contribution.

Donors best suited for utilizing the IRA Charitable Rollover provision include the following:

  • Those who do not itemize their deductions
  • Those already giving at their deduction limit
  • Those who wish to remove assets (up to $100,000) from their estates
  • Those whose distribution from their IRA will increase their income to a level that increases taxes and/or phases out deductions

Consult with your personal financial and tax adviser to be sure this is right for you. Sample letters are available in Microsoft Word and PDF form.

Please contact Sean Sawyer at 212-564-2807 or ssawyer@royal-oak.org for more information.

We appreciate your consideration of providing financial support to Royal Oak!

 


2014 Annual Fund

Monday December 08, 2014

Donate Now

RO_Letterhead_Directors_060314

 

 

 

Dear Royal Oak Members and Friends:

I’m asking you to join me in supporting the Foundation’s 2014 Annual Fund campaign.  The Annual Fund sustains all our work, from our national program of lectures, to our membership program and our fundraising on behalf of the National Trust’s top conservation and acquisition priorities.  Your gift will make a difference.

Our Drue Heinz Lectures bring remarkable lecturers to venues across the U.S.  Just this year these have included: Lucy Worsley, the renowned Curator of Historic Royal Palaces; the Hon. Simon Howard of Castle Howard; Lord Sackville of Knole; Tessa Murdoch, Deputy Keeper of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the National Trust’s brilliant Libraries Curator, Mark Purcell.  Planning for 2015 is well underway and promises more superlative speakers.

This year we have continued to strengthen our membership program and its benefits.  Our custom UK land tour program with JustGo! Holidays presented four well-received offerings, and in 2015 we will offer five special tours, including ones commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and another celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.  We have extended our member discounts with Historic House Hotels and Country Life magazine, and completed the new database that will enable us to present a wide range of member offerings on our website, available to all members regardless of geography.

The core of our mission is supporting the National Trust’s urgent conservation and acquisition priorities, and I ask you to help ensure that Royal Oak continues to be an ever stronger force in protecting and making accessible the places across the United Kingdom that are such a vital element of our shared cultural heritage.

Please consider making a gift to the 2014 Annual Fund today.

Sincerely yours,

 

Lynne-Rickabaugh

 

 

 

Lynne L. Rickabaugh

Vice Chairman and 2014 Annual Fund Chair

Donate Now


Government Announces Major Investment in Stonehenge Landscape

Monday December 01, 2014
Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

The British government announced today that it will be investing in a new 2.9 km tunnel to remove the A303 from the Stonehenge landscape.

The National Trust and English Heritage, guardians of Stonehenge and its World Heritage Site, see this announcement as a “truly momentous decision” in the modern history of one of the most famous places in the world.

Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, said: “The importance of this announcement today cannot be overstated. After many false starts and challenges, this does for the first time feel like a real opportunity to tackle the blight of the road that dominates the landscape of Stonehenge.

“If designed well, putting the A303 into a 2.9km tunnel will bring the Stonehenge landscape together once more, creating space for nature and improving the site’s tranquillity. I know there will be some sadness that people will no longer be able to see the stones from the road, but visitors will once again be able to hear the sounds of skylarks singing rather than the constant noise of traffic.

“We’re committed to finding alternative ways for even more people to see the Stones on their journey and for future generations to experience and explore this inspiring prehistoric landscape as our ancestors did.”

Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “This will be the biggest single investment ever by Government in this country’s heritage and is truly a momentous decision.

“We felt so proud to close the A344 last year and build award-winning visitor facilities at Stonehenge. We have been campaigning for a tunnel to remove the blight that is the A303, for the past 30 years. This news is the icing on the cake and vindicates all our hard work.

“We have been trying to find a solution for the A303 improvements since 1986 when Stonehenge became a World Heritage Site – recognition that it is one of the best known and most important prehistoric landscapes in the world.

“It is vital that any new scheme to put the A303 into a bored tunnel is located in the right place and designed to the best specification.

“This is about investing in the future. We have a responsibility to future generations to get this right as we provide a world class solution for a world class place.”

Article courtesy of The National Trust Press Office


Help #GrowTheOak This Giving Tuesday

Wednesday November 19, 2014

Web-Banner5Save the date: on December 2, The Royal Oak Foundation will be part of Giving Tuesday, a global day of collaboration, sharing and giving the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Be a part of the movement!

On Giving Tuesday, donate to Royal Oak and tell your friends about our mission by using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GrowTheOak!

In its third year, #GivingTuesday is an online movement that channels individual giving into collective action and increases the impact of our donations by spread the word about causes that matter.

It’s easy to get involved! All you need to do is:

1) Give to Royal Oak. Many of our supporters make end-of-year gifts to our Annual Fund that sustain all we do throughout the year. If you were already planning to contribute, #GivingTuesday is a way to extend the impact of your gift. You can also donate to our 2014 National Trust Appeal, benefiting key elements of the landscape garden at Stourhead.

2) Share your donation on Social Media. Log onto Twitter and Facebook and let your friends know why you chose to support Royal Oak. Add the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #GrowTheOak to your post to make sure your contribution becomes part of the Giving movement and amplifies your impact. Add an image of your favorite National Trust Property to tell us why you give!

3) #GrowTheOak By telling your friends about Royal Oak and using the #GrowTheOak hashtag, you ensure Royal Oak is able to continue to support the National Trust in preserving places of great historic and natural significance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and bring compelling lectures to you throughout the country.

This year, your donation to Royal Oak can go further than ever with #GivingTuesday. Get involved and spread the word this December 2!

Give to the Annual Fund
Give to Stourhead


Top 5 Reasons Timeless Design 2014 Was a Success

Tuesday November 11, 2014

November 13’s 2014 Timeless Design Gala was a huge success, a great evening and the culmination of a successful mission.

Learn more about what made it such a memorable night!

David Linley in the workshop (4)1. The People - The Timeless Design Gala draws out the best and brightest from the design world, and this year’s event was no different. In honoring David Linley of LINLEY’S with the Timeless Design Award, the night will recognize Linley’s well-earned reputation for artistry and craftsmanship. The evening’s Heritage Award recipient, the  Institute for Classical Architecture & Art, works to preserve and make accessible some of the greatest examples of neo-Classical architecture and fine and decorative arts.

Together, Linley and ICAA represent the best of the design community’s ideals: a passion for the the heritage of art and design, from the Renaissance through neo-Classicism and Modernism. The night represents an opportunity for the community to gather together and celebrate these shared values.

Essex House2. The Place – The Gala was be held at the Essex House, a luxury hotel built in the 1930s in the Art Deco style. Located across from Central Park beneath an iconic six-story sign, the hotel boasts gorgeous marble interiors that perfectly evoke Old New York. What better place to celebrate “Timeless Design?”

3. The Decor – With floral arrangements provided by the renowned Renny and Reed and wooden centerpieces that echo classic architectural designs, the Essex House ballroom provided a memorable setting for a celebratory night.

Print4. The Experience- Themed around the idea of “Mission: Possible,” the evening featured customized multimedia presentations and speeches from our honorees and distinguished guests. Pull on your pair of Ray-Bans and accept your mission!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. The Cause- Rather than the usual charity auction, we had a mission-driven”paddle raise” that we are calling MISSION POSSIBLE.  This will focus on Royal Oak’s scholarship programs and two conservation priorities at the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

 

It’s not too late to accept the Mission! Donate to Royal Oak Scholarships today!
Donate Now


National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins Delivers Farewell Address

Monday November 10, 2014
Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins

As his tenure comes to a close, National Trust Chairman Simon Jenkins delivered his Farewell Address at the Annual General Meeting. Royal Oak thanks Jenkins for his leadership since 2008

Tim Parker became the Trust’s new Chairman after the meetings concluded.

Jenkins’ remarks follow below.

“WELCOME to Swindon. This has been a good six years in the history of the Trust. We are in excellent shape, the money sound and the membership rising.

“You know the figures: membership through 4m, visits to properties through 20m and visits to our wider estate approaching 200m. Our operating surplus has risen by a third, enabling us to spend record sums on conservation, our prime responsibility.

“Acquisitions have slowed, but we have taken on Vanbrugh’s mighty Seaton Delaval, Tredegar and Dyffryn in south Wales, Lord Nuffield’s eccentric lodge outside Henley, Arts and Crafts at Stoneywell and the delightful Asalache house (575 Wandsworth Road). We have acquired the last white cliff of Dover and the exquisite Llyn Dinas under Snowdon.

“As chairman I can do nothing alone. I want to pay a tribute to my board who have been committed and loyal throughout what have been years of change. I want to pay particular thanks to my deputy Charles Gurassa, who must have broken all records for length of service. And to our new Director General Helen Ghosh who will address you shortly. I also want to thank the staff. We have the best staff in the charity sector.

“But there is one matter I have sort of made my own. The effort to relieve our properties of that old complaint, the dead hand of the Trust. We have sought to bring our properties more to life. Make them more welcoming. Make our visitors feel they are entering someone’s house, not someone ancestral museum. I hope have you have noticed the difference.

“We have been burning ropes and teasels, don’t touch signs and plastic notice sheets. I have tried to attack the mountain of plaster food. There are fires in the grates at Stourhead, Petworth and Ightham.

“There is croquet at Chastleton, billiards at Wightwick, tennis at Hidcote. You can eat windfalls at Woolsthorpe and drink sherry at Croft – or at least I could. We are more tolerant of dogs and photographers.

“I was very moved to watch children writing poetry in Coleridge’s study. I watched them research their Great War ancestors at Dunham. I attended a scholarly seminar on the art history and design of Ham House. We have not neglected our academic tradition.

“We plunged into controversy. Should we have restored Avebury so radically? Should we have displayed Elton John’s favourite furniture at The Vyne? 90 per cent of visitors said yes, 10 per cent resigned. Should we have opened the Big Brother House? We didn’t own it but partnered a seminar on taste in modern design.

“Not everything worked. I failed to secure for the Trust a big house in central London. I failed to brew medieval beer at Lacock. I could not get schoolchildren at Southwell workhouse fed on original gruel. I failed to mess up Kipling’s study at Bateman’s. There are still too many ropes.

“All this is because I believe our properties matter more than anything. Never stop the flow of ideas, pushing the boundary of aesthetics and taste. If the Trust cannot join in these debates then it will die. I am proud at how many visitors comment on the new warmth of our welcome, and sense of engagement. I want to thank our property staff and volunteers for the work they have put into this.

“That has been paralleled by internal changes to the Trust. We have delegated discretion to property managers. We have concentrated our expertise in a central consultancy. We have struggled to upgrade our catering and shops, an ongoing task. These are competitive markets. It was interesting to hear someone from Derbyshire say they didn’t go to see Chatsworth itself but to see what’s on at Chatsworth.

“The external role of the Trust has been more turbulent. We have a mission, handed down since Octavia Hill, to guard beautiful places for the nation for ever. Over the past six years it has never seemed more under threat.

“My view is that the British have got pretty good at looking after our built heritage. Historic buildings and towns are reasonably safe nowadays. Grand houses no longer come the Trust’s way. There was a proper framework in place.

“That is not true of the countryside.

“I have always regarded Britain’s town and country planning legislation as a work of British political genius. The most crowded big country in Europe after Holland has guarded its boundaries between urban and rural, leaving the rural remarkably pristine.

“The Trust is non-political, but we are a major landowner and one with a clear mission. We have pleaded with government to save the forests, to fight ash die-back. We are restoring peat bogs. We are re-wilding our uplands. Note how few National Trust properties flooded last winter. We pursue a vigorous renewable energy policy.

“But have had to fight case after case for inappropriate wind turbines near our land. We won most emphatically where they would overlook our site at Lyveden and our land along the Bristol Channel. We are still fighting turbines on the ridge next to Hardwick and elsewhere. This will keep on being a fight.

“Then in 2010 came the big one. Ministers attempted to simplify planning regulation. We were ready and eager to support this. But we were not consulted and looked on in horror, as sensible reform became what I can only describe as a developers’ ramp.

“There is no beating about this bush. The National Planning Policy Framework was a cynical attempt by the builders’ lobby to circumvent 50 years of town-and-country planning. Local plans had to be drawn up virtually overnight, and could be overruled by ministers.

“If they were not in place, so-called sustainable development was permitted anyway. It was even made easier in the green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty. It then turned out that sustainable merely meant profitable.

“The Trust in alliance with others fought this. We won concessions, notably on green belt protection and brownfield first. But the implementation of the policy has showed appalling gaps. The countryside is still exposed to a slew of off-plan development bids, with those who object mostly losing on appeal.

“This was not just a technical matter. It was a relaxation of control unprecedented in planning history. See the results of it in ostensibly unplanned sprawls round Buckingham or Ely. See warehouses and advertisement hoardings sprouting along the M1.

“We have to deal with some 400 third-party applications affecting our properties every year.

“My desk has been besieged by appeals for help: from Winchester to Durham, Sussex to Lancashire, from Somerset to Nottingham. Applications flooded in from landowners who couldn’t believe their luck.

“I must stress that this has almost nothing to do with housing. The Trust is not against new houses. Demand for housing is primarily in cities. Figures show there to be ample space in existing settlements – over one million according to the CPRE monitor – for far more than any concept of housing need.

“Nor are spaces in the so-called wrong places. A firm of London agents recently calculated enough vacant sites in London alone for 1.5m new houses, with no green belt encroachment. Using the phrase housing crisis to gobble up countryside is lobbyists’ talk.

“England’s towns and villages, glories of the nation, have always grown organically, and can continue to do so. The issue is how to plan this growth and by whom? Is an isolated village really the best place for the 300-unit volume executive estate beloved of developers? Can we really not revive the adjacent town or city?

“There is no doubt where we are going. If you want to see the sort of countryside now on offer, go to southern Portugal or Italy, to Sicily or the Costa Blanca, to Ireland even. These countries bitterly regret relaxing planning under political pressure in the cause of profit.

“The countryside we are charged with defending tops every list of what people most value about Britain. It is up there with the royal family, the NHS and Shakespeare. It is threatened. Our job is to defend it.

“Octavia Hill founded the Trust not for aristocrats or property developers. She founded it to help city people find somewhere green and open in which to refresh their lungs. The Trust, I believe, would not have been doing its duty, to its founders or the public, had we ignored this responsibility.

“Friends, I am proud to leave the Trust with the financial strength, the committed staff and the robustness of purpose to keep on fighting these battles. Please keep doing so. Thank you very much.”


Please Support Royal Oak’s 2014 Annual Fund Appeal

Friday October 24, 2014

Donate Now

RO_Letterhead_Directors_060314

 

 

 

Dear Royal Oak Members and Friends:

I’m asking you to join me in supporting the Foundation’s 2014 Annual Fund campaign.  The Annual Fund sustains all our work, from our national program of lectures, to our membership program and our fundraising on behalf of the National Trust’s top conservation and acquisition priorities.  Your gift will make a difference.

Our Drue Heinz Lectures bring remarkable lecturers to venues across the U.S.  Just this year these have included: Lucy Worsley, the renowned Curator of Historic Royal Palaces; the Hon. Simon Howard of Castle Howard; Lord Sackville of Knole; Tessa Murdoch, Deputy Keeper of the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the National Trust’s brilliant Libraries Curator, Mark Purcell.  Planning for 2015 is well underway and promises more superlative speakers.

This year we have continued to strengthen our membership program and its benefits.  Our custom UK land tour program with JustGo! Holidays presented four well-received offerings, and in 2015 we will offer five special tours, including ones commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and another celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Trust’s Neptune Coastline Campaign.  We have extended our member discounts with Historic House Hotels and Country Life magazine, and completed the new database that will enable us to present a wide range of member offerings on our website, available to all members regardless of geography.

The core of our mission is supporting the National Trust’s urgent conservation and acquisition priorities, and I ask you to help ensure that Royal Oak continues to be an ever stronger force in protecting and making accessible the places across the United Kingdom that are such a vital element of our shared cultural heritage.

Please consider making a gift to the 2014 Annual Fund today.

Sincerely yours,

 

Lynne-Rickabaugh

 

 

 

Lynne L. Rickabaugh

Vice Chairman and 2014 Annual Fund Chair

Donate Now


Support the Fleming Legacy Challenge.

Tuesday October 21, 2014

Donate Now

musson-2014Longtime supporter Ronald Lee Fleming is offering a challenge program to create an endowment for Royal Oak’s national program of lectures, The Drue Heinz Lectures.
Mr. Fleming will match all direct contributions and legacy program pledges received by June 15, 2015 on a one to two ratio up to $500,000.

Launched in 1973 and made possible with lead funding from the Drue Heinz Trust since 1992, Royal Oak’s national program of lectures are fundamental to our educational mission. Mrs. Heinz’s vision and commitment has created one of the country’s most respected annual lecture programs focused on British history, art and architecture. Please help us ensure that this legacy endures!

Donate Now

To learn more about this exciting opportunity please contact Executive Director, Sean Sawyer at ssawyer@royal-oak.org or 212.564.2807. Or you may send a message through the form below and someone will contact you shortly.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Phone Number

Subject

Your Message


The Autumnal Genius of Stourhead

Tuesday October 21, 2014

An autumnal view of the lake, Stourhead, Wiltshire

By Alan Power, Garden and Estate Manager, Stourhead

As I write in mid-September, we are now firmly in the midst of the most spectacular time of year at Stourhead. The days are shortening and the temperatures are dropping. The mist is beginning to form on the lake as the mornings cool down, the Pantheon sometimes looking as if it is floating on the clouds. There are hints of autumnal color appearing on some of the trees, predominantly the American ones. The anticipation of just how “good” the season will be is evident among the staff, volunteers and the visitors too.

Autumn is when the true genius of the place can be witnessed: the architecture, the artistry, the planting and design, the perfection within the scale of every little intervention all working to create one of the most beautiful scenes in the world.

Indeed, Stourhead is one of the finest landscape gardens in Europe, and I would argue, in the world. Wrapped in and protected by the rolling hills of the ancient landscapes of Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset, Stourhead has evolved over the last 300 years around a valley originally called “Paradise.” Before this period the land was occupied by the Stourton family from 1448 until the early 18th Century. Human settlements have been recorded here since before the Iron Age. Lived in, admired, journeyed to, shared and recorded by millions of people during the centuries, Stourhead deserves the fame and importance it receives. As the London Chronicle wrote in 1757: “Stourhead—all is grand, or simple, or a beautiful mixture of both.”

After almost 20 years working in and now managing the garden and estate at Stourhead, my love and commitment to the place grows every day. Often referred to as a pleasure ground in the past, the garden at Stourhead has far exceeded the original ambition of the great Henry Hoare in the early 18th Century. Not only is it a pleasure to gaze upon at all times of the year but it is also a wonder to explore and experience with close friends, family and loved ones; it’s an experience to be shared, talked about, treasured and passed on. This is one part of the work I do that really moves me; when I witness the heartfelt way in which the beauty of Stourhead can take one over, I am genuinely emotional. I feel proud of the work we do and achieve at Stourhead, I am so proud of the work we, the National Trust, do at all of our properties.

Alan Power guides Royal Oak’s Board through Stourhead. In September, Directors and Heritage Circle members visited Stourhead to both take in its beauty and learn more about its conservation needs.

However, it is our vision for the future of Stourhead that I am most proud of. Working in the knowledge that we hope to care for this magnificent place, secure its future, understand more of its past and inspire the next generation through sharing the Stourhead experience makes every day here a pleasure.

Our ambition for the garden is a simple yet deeply important one and will be realized with your support: we will have the landscape garden and its superb architectural features in as good condition as possible by 2020. We will re-introduce some of the missing elements of the plant collection and add the 21st-century layer to the collection in the Pinetum. This will be approximately 300 years after the Hoare family moved to this beautiful corner of Wiltshire, gave Stourhead its name and created a legacy for the nation and the world.

Preserve Stourhead’s Landscape Masterpiece

Royal Oak seeks to raise $100,000 to conserve three major features within Stourhead: The Temple of Apollo, The Grotto and the Pinetum.

Contributions to our National Trust Appeal will protect these elements of the garden and preserve access to this spectacular site. The Foundation will match every contribution received with earnings from The Royal Oak Legacy Fund up to a total of $50,000.

Donate Now


New Ways to Support the Royal Oak Foundation

Thursday September 18, 2014

The Temple of Apollo and Rhododendrons reflected in the lake at Stourhead, Wiltshire.Visit our new Donate page today to learn about and support all aspects of Royal Oak’s mission. We’re grateful to our supporters for their generosity and are excited to open up new channels to give online.


Stourhead’s English Arcadia

Tuesday August 12, 2014
The Grotto at Stourhead offers stunning sightlines into the landscape garden, but needs vital conservation work to remain accessible.

The Grotto at Stourhead offers stunning sightlines into the landscape garden, but needs vital conservation work to remain accessible.

Support Stourhead

The international success of the English landscape garden movement, whose high water mark was reached in the second half of the 18th century, is reflected in the existence of the French and German labels ‘le jardin anglais’ and ‘der englishe garten.’ Its influence is found in great gardens as far afield as Sweden, Russia and North America. This art form, for it is no less, must rank as one of Great Britain’s greatest cultural exports.

Though neither the largest nor the product of a professional landscapist, the garden at Stourhead, in Wiltshire, ranks amongst the most beautiful and influential of them all. In 1762, Horace Walpole, more often than not scathing or sharp-tongued in the opinions he dealt out, proclaimed: ‘The whole composes one of the most picturesque scenes in the world.’

At the heart of the garden, framed by a 2,500 acre estate of rolling woodland and farmland, lies a 30 acre lake created by the flooding of a steep-sided valley known as Six Wells Bottom. Around its mirror we find a tight, complex landscape, thickly planted with trees and bushes, and adorned with temples and other structures. The views across the lake to and from the points of interest were very carefully devised and controlled. So perfect is this artifice, however, that in walking around the lake’s circuit path or ascending the valley sides, only simplicity and harmony is apparent. Idealized views, as if composed and framed by a master seventeenth-century landscape painter appear and disappear with apparent effortlessness. This is an arcadian, dream-like place, born both of imagination and learning, at once painterly and associative. Here literature, painting, architecture, archaeology, science and religion, were brought together in a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk.

Temples and other garden buildings adorn the ethereal landscape. Now more than 250 years old, these buildings are showing their age and a major campaign of restoration is necessary in order to steer them safely into the future for our successors to enjoy. Two of the most enigmatic of these points of meditation along a visitor’s way are the Grotto on the north side of the lake and the contrasting but complementary Temple of Apollo on its south side. The one sits low in the landscape, riven in the rock above the water’s edge and chthonic in nature; the other crowns an eminence as befits a temple to the Olympian sun god.

The grotto complex, formed of rough rock and pitted tufa, is a cool, dark place filled with the sound of water, and in its half-light we find statues of a sleeping nymph and a river god who represents the Stour.

Before exiting the grotto and emerging blinking into the sunlight, the visitor enjoys a framed view across the water of the Temple of Apollo, hanging on its eminence like the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. Like Hercules, who takes the hard, rocky and virtuous road up the hill in preference to a seductive life of easy pleasure – the visitor must work hard to ascend to the divine. Built some twenty-five years later, the Temple of Apollo is as sophisticated as the Grotto is consciously rude. A circular peripteral temple whose twelve Corinthian columns support and extraordinary scalloped entablature, it is capped by a double-skinned dome which allows light from an invisible source to pour into the building, illuminating as it does the golden rays and mask of Apollo. Its source is the so-called Temple of Venus at Baalbeck, in Syria an ancient baroque building whose eccentricities were broadcast with the publication of Robert Wood’s The ruins of Balbec, otherwise Heliopolis in Coelosyria, London (1757). As the Earl of Lincoln observed in the year the building was completed, the temple is capable of tricking the senses: ‘When you sit deep within the Temple, you wou’d think it was built close to the Lake , & when you walk round the Latter below, you are almost continually entertaind by the Reflection of it, in the water.’

Both structures are key components of Stourhead’s English Arcadia, a place of international significance and a precious resource for understanding the mindset of its creator, his times, and the phenomenon of the English Landscape Garden.

Stourhead is the site of our 2014 National Trust Appeal. Royal Oak seeks to raise funds for the vital work that is needed on three of these significant garden features: The Temple of Apollo, The Grotto and the Pinetum. Click the button below to learn more and donate.

Support Stourhead


Royal Oak’s Winter in August

Monday August 11, 2014

Winter in AugustIt’s winter in August here at Royal Oak, and we want your best National Trust holiday travel stories!

Did you take a Christmas-themed culinary tour at Petworth? Or experience a traditional country home Christmas at Wallington? Did you spend the holidays exploring the UK and the National Trust in all their frosty glory? We want to know about it!

Share your story of National Trust winter travel with us and we’ll include our favorites in the Fall 2014 Newsletter. If your story is picked, we’ll publish your story and send you a free year’s basic membership. Already a member? You can gift the membership to a friend and get your holiday shopping done early!

Send us a few sentences telling us about your National Trust holiday experience (along with a photo or two!) for your chance to win. You can share your story by emailing Sam McCann at smccann@royal-oak.org.

Good luck and happy holidays!


Royal Oak Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Tuesday July 22, 2014
Marilyn Photo

Marilyn Fogarty

The Royal Oak Foundation is pleased to welcome two new staff members to our team. Chelcey Berryhill joined us in May as our Development & Communications Coordinator, and Marilyn Fogarty arrived in June as the Director of Administration and Finance.

Chelcey attended Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia and received her M.S. in Historic Preservation from Pratt Institute in 2011.  She was previously Development Associate and Special Events Coordinator at the Brooklyn Historical Society. In June 2012 she attended the Victorian Society Summer School in Newport, RI and currently serves on the board of the NY Metro Chapter of the Victorian Society.

Chelcey3

Chelcey Berryhill

Marilyn comes to Royal Oak from Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ, where she has been Finance Manager since 2008. Prior to that she has worked in finance and business management for several other charitable and cultural organizations since 2001.

We’re excited to have both Marilyn and Chelcey on staff. We also wish the best to Scarlett Millar and Yvonne Raptis, both of whom have moved onto exciting opportunities in the UK.


Activate Your Royal Oak User Profile

Tuesday July 22, 2014

As part of the continued evolution of our website, those making purchases of membership or lecture reservations on our website must now set up a user profile. This profile will help you complete online transactions more quickly, recognizing your membership status and expediting your checkout process.

Activating your Profile:

When you make your next purchase or donation on the Royal Oak website, you’ll be prompted to activate your Profile. To activate your Profile now, click here: www.royal-oak.org/profile

What this Means to You:

Use your Profile to purchase memberships and place lecture reservations. Your Profile also streamlines the checkout process, auto-filling your address and other personal information.

Please note: Your Profile will not store credit card information.

For More Information:

For questions regarding your Profile please write to profiles@royal-oak.org  or call us at 212.480.2889 ext. 200 or 800.913.6565 ext. 200.


Tim Parker to be the next Chairman of The National Trust

Friday June 27, 2014
Parker will become Chairman on November 8

Parker will become Chairman on November 8

The National Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Tim Parker as its next Chairman. He will take up the role after the Annual General Meeting in Swindon on 8 November when current Chairman, Simon Jenkins, steps down.

Tim is a long-time member of the National Trust and in recent years has actively supported its work. He is the current Chairman of the Trust’s Commercial Panel.

Tim is Chairman and Chief Executive of Samsonite and brings enormous experience at the highest level to the role of Chairman.

Tim Parker says: “I have been a member of the National Trust for almost thirty years and I am a great admirer of all it does to care for the nation’s heritage, coast and countryside. I am delighted to be taking up the role of Chairman and look forward enormously to playing my part in helping the Trust to keep these places special today and in the future.”

A man with strong cultural interests, Tim owns the British Pathe Film Archive, perhaps the foremost 20th century film record in the English language. He is a patron of the National Theatre and friend of the Royal Opera. Tim lists his other interests as playing the flute, collecting art, running and the restoration of a walled garden at his home.

A former economist for HM Treasury he has had an outstanding business career in which he turned round the fortunes of the AA, Kwik Fit, Clarks Shoes and Kenwood Appliances. He has served on the boards of three FTSE 100 companies (Legal and General, Alliance Boots and the Compass Group) and was the Chairman of Channel Nine TV in Australia.

Helen Ghosh, the Trust’s Director-General, says: “I am very much looking forward to working with Tim who combines a lifelong passion for the work of the Trust with experience of leading large and successful organisations like ours. It’s a very exciting prospect.”

During the last few years, the Trust has seen its membership grow above 4 million and visits to its paid-for properties approach 20 million. Simon Jenkins’ period as Chairman also saw expenditure on conservation projects rise by more than 25% and the successful appeal to acquire an iconic stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.


Meet the 2014 Horan Prize Winner

Tuesday June 17, 2014
Charlectoe Park, Warickshire

Charlecote Park, Warickshire

The Royal Oak Foundation is pleased to announce Eduard Krakhmalnikov as the recipient of the 2014 Damaris Horan Prize fellowship for study with the National Trust. Supported by the Mudge Foundation and named for Royal Oak’s Executive Director from 1987 to 2003, this program provides training and educational opportunities for individuals with a professional interest in the history, management and conservation of historic landscapes and gardens.

Eduard’s award will allow him to work at the National Trust’s historic Charlecote Park. He’ll be under the supervision of the Park and Gardens Manager, compiling a detailed written report assessing the development of the parkland and gardens at Charlecote giving particular focus on the influence of Lancelot Brown and Mary Elizabeth Lucy.

EKrakhmalnikov_Headshot

Photo by Nicole Peterson’

Eduard is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, currently completing a dual Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture and Heritage Conservation and Preservation. He has a deep background in preservation work; in the summer of 2012, he was chosen as the inaugural Sally Boasberg Founder’s Fellow at The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C. There, he worked primarily on the “What’s Out There” initiative, writing and researching historic designed landscapes. This past summer, Eduard worked with the conservation unit in the Galway County Council in Ireland through an international exchange internship with the US Chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. While there, he worked principally on the Architectural Conservation Area report for Kinvara, a historic seaside port.

Eduard’s personal interest in landscape stems from his family’s history. He was born in Odessa, Ukraine, before moving to the United States at a young age. He writes that “The bond between people and landscape is profound. As one changes, or disappears, the other follow suit. When deep cultural roots take hold, as they have for my parents, the places people leave behind seem as close as the ones they inhabit.”

This experience informs Eduard’s passion for telling the stories of places and makes him a perfect fit for the 2014 Horan Prize. We look forward to furthering Eduard’s interest in conservation and landscapes, and eagerly await the fruits of his work in Charlecote Park


Acquisition of Londonderry Family Library at Mount Stewart Completed

Wednesday May 07, 2014

The National Trust announced that it has secured the important Londonderry family library at Mount Stewart, which will remain in its historic home. The Royal Oak Foundation is pleased to have provided principal funding for this important project together with the B.H. Breslauer Foundation.

“The Mount Stewart Library contains a wide range of important books that would not normally be available through public collections in Northern Ireland,” Sean Sawyer, Royal Oak’s Executive Director explained. “This will open up some very important pieces of history to further research and will enable the information to be made accessible to a broader public.

“For this reason we were very pleased to get involved with this important project and, together with the Breslauer Foundation, provide significant funding to help secure the legacy of this historic collection at Mount Stewart.”

Additional funding for the library acquisition was provided by the Northern Ireland Museums Council, Friends of the National Libraries, and several private donors.

The funds will allow the library to be preserved in a variety of mediums. As part of the long term plan for the library, the National Trust plans to fully catalogue the collection, placing the information online, and to explain and interpret the collection through regular exhibitions at the house.

Jon Kerr, General Manager at Mount Stewart said: “The library gives a unique insight into the reading and book-buying habits of a powerful and influential family from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.”

“It is possible through the books to trace the history of this famous house and its owners including Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry, who created the famous gardens.”

“The library contains thousands of books on a wide range of subjects, ranging from Lady Londonderry’s truly magnificent collection of Irish books and her many books on gardening, architecture, archaeology and mythology which clearly relate to the creation of the inspirational garden you can see today at Mount Stewart.”

In 2012 the National Trust embarked on a £7million conservation project at Mount Stewart House which will secure the legacy of this special building for future generations.

The Londonderry library will be appreciated in its original setting in 2015, when the house at Mount Stewart House fully re-opens after the restoration project.

This important project is a demonstration of the excellent conservation standards of the National Trust and includes vital repairs and improvements to the structure and services in the house.

To learn more about the Mount Stewart grant and other projects supported by Royal Oak, visit:www.royal-oak.org/grants


Royal Oak’s Campaign for Knole Concludes with Over $1,240,000 Raised

Friday March 07, 2014

Scarlett Millar, Development & Communications Manager

West Front of Knole, Kent
West Front of Knole, Kent

Royal Oak thanks all our members and supporters across the U.S. who have made the Campaign for Knole our most successful fundraising project for a single National Trust property to-date. Since the launch in early 2012, gifts totaling $1,242,935 have been received to support the conservation of Knole’s Ballroom and its contents. This includes a major grant of $100,000 received from the Richard C. von Hess Foundation in December 2013.

We have seen an outpouring of enthusiasm and passion for Knole and its many layers of history. Royal Oak supporters’ commitment to fund the restoration of the Ballroom is a key element in the larger, decade-long conservation and reinterpretation. Royal Oak’s support also played a significant role in securing the essential £7.75 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project.

Royal Oak’s major donors to the Campaign for Knole have also shown support for Knole by participating in the campaign’s special events. These included our Royal London Weekend in February 2012, during which HRH The Prince of Wales was presented with the Keystone Award at Buckingham Palace and last September’s Magnificence Preserved Weekend in London, which culminated with a historic dinner in the Great Hall at Knole hosted by Lord and Lady Sackville. Royal Oak extends a special thank you to the Sackvilles and to the National Trust’s brilliant team at Knole, led by Property Manager Stephen Dedman and Fundraising Manager Victoria Phillips, for their extraordinary support for our campaign throughout the last two years.

Knole's ballroom
Knole’s ballroom

Work has already started in the Ballroom, with much-needed repairs to the exterior stonework and window frames complete. However there is still much to be done, including installing insulation and underfloor heating elements to protect the room and its important contents from further damage. The conservators are currently working on plans to manage the building work in the Ballroom. As it is one of the earliest parts of the building, they must be extremely cautious and approach lifting floorboards and removing paneling with great care. The uncovering of the original Tudor wall surfaces will be a dramatic moment, and Royal Oak will keep you informed of the progress of the work here and throughout the house.

The Campaign for Knole has been a significant achievement for Royal Oak. The Foundation is very grateful to all donors to the campaign for helping to build a brighter future for Knole and recovering this forgotten palace, one of Britain’s most astonishing treasures, for all of us.


“Society Stories”: Country Houses and Comradery with travel partner Albion (Formerly Just Go!)

Saturday February 15, 2014
From left: Sheri Wilson, Anya Schandler, Polly Stark, Danette Lawrie, Susan Gagne and Juliette Romano enjoy tea at the Rhinefield House Hotel.

From left: Sheri Wilson, Anya Schandler, Polly Stark, Danette Lawrie, Susan Gagne and Juliette Romano enjoy tea at the Rhinefield House Hotel.

This article is about our 2014 Society Stories Tour, which will be back by popular demand in 2015. Learn more about our 2015 tour offering here.

“That’s my house,” Wayne Thornton, Chartwell’s Volunter and Community Development Manager, hollered over the engine. He jutted a finger against the window, pointing to a rustic cottage at the crest of a hill that evoked idyllic country living so perfectly I chuckled, unsure if he was kidding. “It really is,” he assured me as we descended the hill, cruising through the backroads of Kent between Chartwell and Knole. Trees limbs obscured the brilliant sunshine.

Moments later, this green canopy gave way to the expanse of Knole’s deer park, which itself seemed small beside the enormity of Knole and its hundreds of rooms. I gaped, stunned by the view and indeed the entire journey. I had to see more.

The Royal Oak’s “Society Stories” tour, organized by JustGo! Holidays, gave me a chance to do just that. I was in England to represent Royal Oak on the tour and experience for the first time some of the National Trust properties I am responsible for communicating about. The tour offered authoritative guides and the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable travel companions I could hope for: our members. We covered a rich selection in a whirlwind five days, hitting National Trust highlights and pop culture icons alike.

The tour kicked off with a visit to world-famous Highclere Castle—“the real-life Downton Abbey,” as was proudly proclaimed throughout the house. The property is a mix of museum and home; the family portraits, centuries old, peer down upon the Canarvons’ collection of contemporary literature.

After our visit to Highclere, we swung east, to The National Trust’s Greys Court, the property with which I was least familiar before the tour. As so often happens in these curated visits, this surprise became a favorite of mine, with its lush medieval gardens and its stately mansion complementing each other wonderfully.
We then made our way towards the banks of the Thames to visit the lavish Strawberry Hill House. Horace Walpole’s creation looks to be straight out of Disney. Its deep colors, Gothic architecture and extravagent gold accents were conversation points.

A short ride over the Thames took us to Ham House’s impeccably maintained gardens and fine art collection. We had company, as the BBC TV program Horrible Histories was filming on-site. Moving amongst the costumed actors, we discovered Ham’s rich Restoration Era history before taking advantage of sunny weather in the garden. The entire experience—sumptuous gardens outside and a true treasure house packed with history within- made for a memorable day.

Ham House was the highlight of my trip, but The Vyne, site of the next day’s excursion, proved stiff competition. Our thorough guided tour drew on Jane Austen’s strong ties to the property (family friends owned it and hosted the Austens frequently), and culminated with a visit to the chapel. Its ornate stained glass and rich marble lent the chamber a sense of hushed magnificence—awesome in the true sense of the word.

The tour through these brilliant houses was just part of the experience; the hotels JustGo arranged for our group offered the full country-living experience. The feeling of pulling up to an actual castle, like Hampshire’s Rhinefield House Hotel, and knowing that you were to spend the night was astounding.

Evenings at the hotel provided the chance to get to know each other and bond over our shared adventures. By the final night, when our coach driver and practicing hypnotist, Adrian, offered a hypnosis demonstration, the entire tour group gathered around and offered predictions on who would be most susceptible. The genuine comradery, punctuated by moments of madness such as this, completed the travel experience, making bus rides feel short and conversations rich.

Those rich conversations – with guides, National Trust staff and, most of all, members – proved the perfect way to learn. At its core, this trip was about engaging with Royal Oak’s mission and the National Trust’s work and I was able to begin that education in a very concrete way through the “Society Stories” tour. I am enormously grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this world so directly, and encourage all members to consider joining Royal Oak on tour in the near future.
Learn about this tour


The Autumnal Genius of Stourhead

Sunday January 19, 2014
Stourhead

Alan Power hosts Royal Oak’s Board at Stourhead, Wiltshire.

As I write in mid-September, we are now firmly in the midst of the most spectacular time of year at Stourhead. The days are shortening and the temperatures are dropping. The mist is beginning to form on the lake as the mornings cool down, the Pantheon sometimes looking as if it is floating on the clouds. There are hints of autumnal color appearing on some of the trees, predominantly the American ones. The anticipation of just how ‘good’ the season will be is evident among the staff, volunteers and the visitors too.

Autumn is when the true genius of the place can be witnessed: the architecture, the artistry, the planting and design, the perfection within the scale of every little intervention all working to create one of the most beautiful scenes in the world.

Indeed, Stourhead is one of the finest landscape gardens in Europe, and I would argue, in the world. Wrapped in and protected by the rolling hills of the ancient landscapes of Wiltshire, Somerset and Dorset, Stourhead has evolved over the last 300 years around a valley originally called ‘Paradise’. Before this period the land was occupied by the Stourton family from 1448 until the early 18th Century. Human settlements have been recorded here since before the Iron Age. Lived in, admired, journeyed to, shared and recorded by millions of people during the centuries Stourhead deserves the fame and importance it receives. As the London Chronicle wrote in 1757: “Stourhead—all is grand, or simple, or a beautiful mixture of both.”

After almost 20 years working in and now managing the garden and estate at Stourhead, my love and commitment to the place grows every day. Often referred to as a pleasure ground in the past the garden at Stourhead has far exceeded the original ambition of the great Henry Hoare in the early 18th Century. Not only is it a pleasure to gaze upon at all times of the year but it is also a wonder to explore and experience with close friends, family and loved ones; it’s an experience to be shared, talked about, treasured and passed on. This is one part of the work I do that really moves me, when I witness the heartfelt way in which the beauty of Stourhead can take one over I am genuinely emotional. I feel proud of the work we do and achieve at Stourhead, I am so proud of the work we, the National Trust, do at all of our properties.

However, it is our vision for the future of Stourhead that I am most proud of. Working in the knowledge that we hope to care for this magnificent place, secure its future, understand more of its past and inspire the next generation through sharing the Stourhead experience makes every day here a pleasure.
Our ambition for the garden is a simple yet deeply important one and will be realized with your support: we will have the landscape garden and its superb architectural features in as good condition as possible by 2020. We will re-introduce some of the missing elements of the plant collection and add the 21st century layer to the collection in the Pinetum. This will be approximately 300 years after the Hoare family moved to this beautiful corner of Wiltshire, gave Stourhead its name and created a legacy for the nation and the world.


40 Years of Giving: Property-Specific Grants to the National Trust

Tuesday January 07, 2014

National Trust Grants Map

As part of our celebration of Royal Oak’s 40th Anniversary, we have compiled a map of property-specific grants to the National Trust provided by our supporters over the past four decades across a range of categories. Access an interactive map by clicking on the image above.

We thank our members and friends for their support for the places of great historic and natural significance under the Trust’s stewardship.


Royal Oak Foundation Timeline