Sac Historic House Profile: Tyntesfield House, England

*photo ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

I first fell in love with Tyntesfield house when I saw it profiled in a magazine. Located in the English countryside near Bath, the gothic revival estate with quirky Victorian interiors had fallen into disrepair and when it was finally put up for sale, many joined the efforts to come to its rescue. Rumors circulated that both Madonna and Kylie Minogue were prospective buyers. However, the UK’s National Trust ended up purchasing Tyntesfield and restoration began almost immediately.

Recently I caught up with Rebecca Aubrey-Fletcher, Visitor Services Manager at Tyntesfield and we chatted about the house.

Q: The National Trust opened Tyntesfield to the public just 10 weeks after purchasing the property. That seems really fast! What was the reasoning behind letting people in during conservation?
A: The National Trust wanted to give people the chance to see the work needed to conserve and restore an estate. Instead of closing for 6-7 years, Tyntesfield opened to guided tours as soon as we could. We now have a temporary car park onsite and welcome over 100,000 visitors to the estate each year to experience Conservation in Action. Projects are currently underway to restore the Sawmill for use as a learning centre and Chaplain’s House and Lodge will become holiday cottages. This is all thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Q: When looking at pictures of the house, I’m struck by how unusual and dramatically beautiful it is. I think the house would make a good backdrop for a film. Has there been any filming there yet?
A: Yes, it has been used for filming, most recently as one of the central settings for the film ‘The Real Life of Angel Deverell’, adapted from a novel by Elizabeth Taylor and starring Sam Neill and Charlotte Rampling.

Q: Is there any truth to the story that the National Trust beat out Madonna and Kylie for ownership of Tyntesfield?
A: No!

Q: I’m interested in how the National Trust is able to keep the integrity of these historic estates and yet still be able to connect with and engage a public that is used to television, iPods, and the Internet. Is there anything being done at Tyntesfield to, I can’t seem to find the right word for it, but I guess bridge the gap between the traditional way of visiting a historic property and modern technology?
A: As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded projects, we’re looking at developing our website to make it more accessible, to have more downloads and a blog.

Thank you to Rebecca for patiently answering my questions and a big thanks to the lovely Alison Dalby for coordinating the interview. Check back with us again for more profiles of historic house related travel and inspiration.  Enjoy the rest of the photos!
*photo ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel
*photo ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

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