A throwback post but I’m not apologising for it. This is the account of the wonderful time I had being taken around Shute Barton by a knowledgeable and entertaining National Trust volunteer guide.
The house is currently only open for four weekends a year (pre-COVID arrangements obviously) for the remainder it’s run as holiday lets. The National Trust is considering shutting down the open weekends, not allowing visitors at all and that it should become holiday accommodation only.
This is upsetting on many levels: it cuts people off from their local history, prevents tourists from enjoying a fascinating day out and is an income stream for the National Trust and the local area.
Shute Barton isn’t like Chartwell or Polesden Lacey, or the other enormous stately homes the National Trust has in its care. It’s not grand or showy; it’s really barely more than a very beautiful Tudor gatehouse and medieval hall house. It’s appeal is in, weirdly, what’s not there. It keeps its history secret until an expert, enthusiastic volunteer guide shares it with whoever seeks it out. And very important history it is too, as you’ll discover if you read the blog.
As a long-standing National Trust member, an inhabitant of East Devon and historian, I plead with the Trust to keep this valuable resource open as before. It’s too good to hide away!