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Tales of Loss & Redemption

Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall Street, San Diego | get directions

Cost: Not available

Age limit: All ages

Tales of Loss & Redemption: The Country House in the National Trust with Sean E. Sawyer, Ph.D.

From the 1880s through the 1930s, Britain experienced a revolution in land ownership only paralleled in its history by the Norman Conquest and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Britain’s landed elites found themselves under attack by the forces of modernity on all fronts, and their bastion, the country house, fell to the auction block and the wrecker’s ball in increasing numbers throughout the first half of the 20th Century.

Into this breach in the fabric of British-landed society stepped a reluctant new force of social order, the National Trust. The Royal Oak Foundation’s executive director, Dr. Sean E. Sawyer, will discuss the National Trust’s role in rescuing some of Britain’s greatest country houses and their internationally significant collections of decorative and fine arts. From a reluctant recipient of a handful of houses in the 1920s, the Trust evolved, through its Country Houses Scheme, to lead the way in preserving houses and collections through the bleakest years of the post–World War II era.

The last decades of the 20th Century saw a revival of fortunes for the country house and the Trust’s adaptation as its role as a leading operator of visitor attractions. This is a story full of deaths, both mortal and material, and of daring rescues and bureaucratic blindness. This illustrated lecture will explore some of the Trust’s most important properties, including Blickling and Hardwick Hall, and of the families and great characters who haunt them still.

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