I can sit at my computer and trawl the internet for facts and interesting stories all day and everyday when it comes to country houses and anything related to them. Sometimes I need to have something pointed out to me though because it is easy to overlook the finer things when there’s so many others shouting louder at you on the web. A few days ago, I was shown in the direction of a relatively new blog for National Trust property Montacute House in Somerset. Having perused several pages dedicated to activity at the house, I’ve become greatly aware of how much work and dedication goes into running this property. That’s not in utter ignorance, as any large property takes insurmountable levels of physical and mental energy to keep itself in order. What is striking about this blog is its coverage of several aspects of country house organisation, conservation and collections management. I’ve made it sound a little stuffy, but it’s not that at all. This blog has some fantastic illustrations and anecdotes relating to some of the most important pieces of fine art and architectural heritage there is in Britain. There is also a lovely Facebook page that includes some great photos of the house, its collections, and the staff involved in maintaining the property.
Built in the remaining years of the sixteenth century, and with a long gallery acting as a regional outpost for London’s National Portrait Gallery, Montacute House has come to be regarded as one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture. I don’t want to give too much away since that would defeat the object of the blog itself. But be sure to check on the return of the portrait of King James I by John de Critz, the restoration of the Orangery, and the ‘Skimmington Ride’ posts. I would like to see some of the posts extended and their subjects given some greater attention, but then I like reading!
The Montacute House blog is the product of an intern at the house (with input from one or two others) and was begun last summer in 2011. Having worked as a volunteer behind the scenes in a country house alongside interns I know what an ‘average’ week entails. The blog is a good instrument in highlighting the responsibilities of interns in the modern-day country house hierarchy, and shows how much enthusiasm everyone must have in disseminating the heritage of one particular place. The UK National Trust is making attempts to offer greater access to its properties within a local and national context, and so this blog is one of several hoping to meet this objective. I like this motive, and I know many don’t agree. Visiting a National Trust property can still feel a bit static and museum-like; due in the main to the Trust’s role as ‘guardians’ of our heritage. Thus conservation is high on its agenda. The Montacute House blog can provide a little background detail not otherwise gained on a general visit, and it’s good to see!
Full link for Montacute House blog http://montacutehouse.blogspot.co.uk/
Montacute House from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montacute_House
DiCamillo country house database http://www.dicamillocompanion.com/Houses_detail.asp?ID=4117
National Portrait Gallery link http://www.npg.org.uk/beyond/montacute-house.php