National Trust launches its cultural programme for 2019

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National Trust Images / Mark Waugh
Last update : 16 Jan 2019

From the extraordinary story of an Anglo-Saxon king and his treasures to the poignant memories of 1980s inhabitants at a historic workhouse, the National Trust has launched a programme of heritage events, art exhibitions and new experiences as part of its cultural offer for 2019.

The year also sees the Trust embark on ‘People’s Landscapes’ a programme of events and activities inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre [1], which will invite everyone to explore the landscapes that saw people gather together to seek dramatic social change.

Large scale restorations and re-interpretations of some of the nation’s most famous sites will also offer visitors of all ages a deeper understanding of these histories and invite them to reflect on their relevance today. 

John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Culture and Engagement at the National Trust comments:

“I want us to offer opportunities for as many people as possible to feel welcome and connected to our places, our collections and our stories, as our founders intended.

“Our cultural programme this year puts emphasis on three key ingredients: quality, with our places presented to the highest standard; dynamic experiences, reflecting our places as living, changing cultural resources, not frozen in time; and relevance, appealing to as many people as possible with stories that are moving, inspiring, inviting, healing, joyful.

I am delighted at the variety and quality in our cultural programme and I hope that all our members and visitors, and those who discover us for the first time this year, will enjoy National Trust places near them.

Cultural highlights for 2019 include:

People’s Landscapes – nationwide

Inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, a programme of events and activities across the country will explore the historic landscapes where people have gathered to seek dramatic social change.

Five Trust places will explore their themes through contemporary art: Dunham Massey and Quarry Bank in Cheshire, with their links to the Peterloo Massacre; the story of the Tolpuddle martyrs in Dorset; the mining heritage of the Durham coast, and the mass trespass at Kinder Scout in the Peak District.

Sutton Hoo – Suffolk

The site of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial and its treasures, discovered by archaeologists in 1939, is being transformed to help visitors of all ages understand more about its history and the stories that have captured imaginations of people around the world. New exhibition spaces, installations and a 17 metre high viewing tower will bring this extraordinary place to life.

Wentworth Castle Garden - Yorkshire

This summer, South Yorkshire’s only Grade I registered landscape re-opens under National Trust management. With formal gardens and hundreds of acres of wider parkland, visitors will be able to discover a fascinating history of the people who shaped it, along with a mock medieval castle, the first glasshouse to be lit by electricity and one of the last surviving Victorian winter gardens.

Calke Abbey – Derbyshire

The story of Calke Abbey has been built around tales of the reclusive and socially isolated Harpur-Crewe family. Recent research has shed new light on their lives revealing powerful and sometimes surprising stories of love, compassion and kindness - alongside the more familiar ones of isolation and loneliness. The property will be inviting visitors to explore these themes and their impact on life today through the stories of six members of the household, with immersive experiences indoors and out. 

Rainham Hall, London

The life of an icon of British 20th century design, Anthony Denney, will be celebrated at his former home of Rainham Hall. An influential tastemaker, master of still life, art collector, interior designer and photographer for British Vogue and House and Garden, Rainham will present itself like a magazine to showcase Denney’s varied career with spaces representing fashion, jewellery, arts, interiors, food, gardening, and travel.

Powis Castle - Powys

In the 80th anniversary year of the start of the Second World War, Powis Castle is looking at its more recent past when it was the refuge for a girls’ school for the duration of the war. The top floor of the castle will be opened for the first time as the rooms are transformed into the girls’ dormitories, with audio recordings and original photographs bringing the story of the school to life.

The Workhouse – Nottinghamshire

This spring, visitors to the austere workhouse, built for the destitute in the 19th century, will see the results of a five-year project to recreate the original Infirmary which was in use up until the 1980s. A new library space will provide the opportunity to explore the archives of letters, journals and oral testimonies, while events and activities will encourage discussion around poverty and social health care provision, now and in the past.

For those with a taste for historic collections, Trust exhibitions include Dutch paintings of the ‘Golden Age’ at Petworth House in Sussex; rare early sketches by Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Wightwick Manor in the West Midlands; and photographs by Edward Chambré Hardman at his home in Liverpool.

As a conservation charity, the Trust is committed to giving visitors the chance to see as much work as possible taking place. This year the spotlight will be on Vanbrugh’s Baroque masterpiece Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, while smaller collection-based work can be seen around the country including the conservation of eight rare fantasy landscape paintings at Shugborough in Staffordshire.

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