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A model for Italy’s castles & palaces: Newark Park, Gloucestershire

Italy always laments that it has too much heritage. How is it to maintain it all? The UK’s National Trust has an answer: strategize for family-Sundays.

In a cold easterly breeze I was lured to a Georgian pile on the Cotswold scarp above Wotton-under-Edge: Newark Park, It began life as a Tudor hunting lodge. Finding it is no mean feat. It lies along narrow grassy lanes, and then, on entering its park, first beech woodland, then open pasture, enclose the house and its terraced gardens. Opening at 11.00 am on this cloudless, sunny Sunday, I arrived promptly and was astonished to discover the car park already full. Dozens of visitors were already here. Why, I asked myself?

Newark House, Gloucestershire

The house has a poignant history. It came to the National Trust from the Clutterbuck family in 1949. The son and heir, James Power Clutterbuck(1893-1917), had served in the First World War, as an officer at Gallipoli, then he became a spotter in the Royal Flying Corps. After less than three weeks in the air, on returning from a successful mission, his plane became the 56th victim of the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. In memory of her son, the house and estate were gifted by Catharine Clutterbuck to the National Trust.

The house is presently under-going repairs, so only part of it is open to the public. To be honest, even that on display, notwithstanding the wonderful efforts of the National Trust docents, is especially exceptional. Save for one thing. The view.

View of the Cotswolds

The view across the Cotswold escarpment, reaching far down the valley towards Bristol, is simply staggering. Hence, the bite of the wind on the sunny morning. The National Trust has opened up trails and a woodland playground for families in the glorious remnants of the Clutterbuck’s estate. Hence, the volume of visitors, dads, mums, and kids, …all kitted up for hiking.

Connecting people to places and, significantly, their landscapes – their contexts – whatever their history is fundamental. The repairs at Newark will cost a fortune - amounts that might stagger the average Italian palazzo - but I bet these are soon covered by the press of visitors and National Trust members, who guided by the need to entertain their kids on a lovely day, take in houses like this and their trails. It is a fitting memory to the 23 year old James Clutterbuck.

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