Monumentum, Spring 2010

2010 is an auspicious year for World Monuments Fund: it’s the organisation’s forty-fifth anniversary and the fifteenth year of WMF Britain’s mission to secure a vital future for historic sites in, or related to, the UK. We mark the occasion with the first annual summer party on 9 June thanks to the wonderful support of Radisson Edwardian hotels; and we present an even better year of activities for WMF members, generously sponsored by our friends Symm. I hope you’ll choose to join us – details are, as usual, listed at the back of this copy of Monumentum. Our main activity – our practical conservation work – continues to deliver as great a public benefit as possible. Nowhere is this more evident than at Stowe. This year, the excellent refurbishment of the library and east wing offers skills training for young masons. We have also teamed with Stowe School and Kidscape in creating a summer retreat to encourage the talents of severely bullied children. At the same time, we’re looking forward to the first fruits of a yearly Stowe Scholarship with Yale University and the Paul Mellon Centre, which will, in turn, provide the research to inform an imaginative interpretation scheme planned for the house. The National Trust is an excellent partner at the site, responsible for Stowe’s unrivalled landscape garden which provides the setting for the house. In 2011 the NT will present the gardens via a restored eighteenth-century visitor centre, and I’m delighted that the NT’s public-spirited Chair Simon Jenkins will be speaking for us at the RGS in October.

Our fundraising for Stowe is yet to be completed, and we would welcome any help. In July of this year, the Strawberry Hill House project will be complete, presenting the restored Horace Walpole interiors six years after Watch listing and with a WMF investment of a million dollars. The Strawberry Hill Trust has achieved a remarkable success, which we celebrate in this issue with a fascinating article by the project architect Peter Inskip and on 9 March with a conference at the V&A followed by a site visit to view work in progress. Access and interpretation are key to this restoration, which will transform our view of Walpole, and the importance of his architecture, whilst revealing its clarity and beauty.

Meanwhile, the 2010 Watch list has generated some excellent UK-related candidates across the British Isles and as far as Mexico, and we continue to explore ways of helping these, and other, sites in need. But we do so in our fifteenth year without the help of a dear friend and supporter: Isabel King, who died on New Year’s Day having served as a valued trustee of WMF Britain. This issue and the work represented in it are dedicated to the memory of Isabel.

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