The National Trust has launched a new initiative in order to raise funds: auctioning off exclusive experiences on eBay. The Trust hopes to make enough money to purchase national gem Seaton Delaval in Northumberland, which has been described as ‘one of the greatest houses ever built in Britain’.

Online bidders can choose from 10 difference experiences, including the chance to banquet in the hall of William Morris-designed Red House, take a private boat trip around Farne Islands with ornithologist David Steel, or have a behind-the-scenes look at ‘upstairs/downstairs’ life at Lanhydrock Estate, Cornwall (bidding starts at £30 for all of these).

Emily Bryce, National Trust Seaton Delaval project officer, says: ‘We are offering people the chance to experience some of their favourite Trust properties in a very special way. None of the items on offer are available to buy or book normally, and the staff at participating properties have put a lot of thought into making the experiences really special for the winners.’

Eighteenth-century Seaton Delaval Hall was designed by Sir John Vanburgh, who also created Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Seaton Delaval’s owner, Lord Hastings, put it up for sale last year, and the Trust has so far raised £2.5 million of the £6.3 million needed to purchase it. It is hoping to receive the remainder from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a government scheme, but it cannot guarantee the funds.

Bids can be made any time before 2:30pm on Thursday, February 12. For more information, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ebay or http://shop.ebay.co.uk/merchant/saveseatondelavalhall

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