Three important historic houses will today become part of the National Trust.
Hartwell House near Aylesbury, Bodysgallen Hall in North Wales and Middlethorpe Hall, in York – the three properties of Historic House Hotels – will become the ‘inalienable’ property of the National Trust, ensuring that they can never be sold.
Hartwell House is a Jacobean and Georgian Grade 1 listed house in 90 acres of gardens and parkland. Now a 50 bedroom hotel, it was the home and court of the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII between 1809 and 1814.
With its origins deep in the 13th century, Bodysgallen is a Grade 1 listed house, largely built between 1620 and 1900 and set in 220 acres of gardens, park and farmland two miles from Llandudno, with a terrace overlooking Conwy Castle and Snowdonia.
Middlethorpe Hall, a perfectly symmetrical red brick and stone house built in 1699, was rescued from an undignified decade as a nightclub in 1980. Over the next 10 years its surrounding land was reacquired and it is now a green oasis, located close to York Racecourse.
Trustees of the National Trust will complete the transfer deal today by declaring all three properties inalienable. The gift has been under discussion for almost 30 years and in 1997 the National Trust accepted restrictive covenants over the three properties.
Under the arrangement, the directors of Historic House Hotels have now gifted all three properties to The Trust. The properties will continue their present use as hotels under the existing HHH management. Three National Trust directors will join the board and all profits will go to Trust funds – to provide for the long-term care of the three houses.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: ‘This exceptionally generous gift marks a wonderful moment for the Trust and is a tremendous vote of confidence in our ability to conserve special places – both buildings and landscapes – with integrity and authenticity.
‘The Trust’s survival is highly dependent on gifts and legacies large and small. These very special properties will help our work and contribute importantly to the upkeep of houses, nature, coastline and landscapes.’
Over a period of time, it is envisaged that arrangements will be put in place for the gardens and grounds of the hotels to be open to visitors, along with tours of the ground floor rooms. Members of the Trust will of course also be welcome as guests. While there is a strong commitment to continuing the properties’ use as hotels, financial and other provision has been made to ensure a secure future for the houses, if at some time in the future, this were to become no longer possible or appropriate.