Noel Coward may have sung ‘The stately homes of England, how beautiful they stand, to prove the upper classes have still the upper hand’ – but that was in 1938, and today they are yet another casualty of coronavirus.
While the landed owners of such magnificent historic piles might not receive – nor expect – much sympathy for their plight in a pandemic that has affected so many, the financial impact of the lockdown has been substantial.
Public tours have been banned and essential revenues from the use of the properties as wedding venues or film sets has all-but dried up.
Typical of those badly hit is the Casterne Hall estate in the Peak District. The house, with 182 acres, has been put on the market by Charles Hurt
Matters have been exacerbated by the fall-out from revelations that some estates were built on proceeds from the slave trade.
‘This year has been a total washout,’ says James Probert of the Historic Houses Association, which represents 1,500 properties, around half of which normally operate public commercial ventures from gift shops to holiday accommodation.
As a result of the crisis, many properties have been put up for sale.
Typical of those badly hit is the Casterne Hall estate in the Peak District. The house, with 182 acres, has been put on the market by Charles Hurt, who says: ‘My family has owned the estate since the 1400s but it’s no longer financially viable to keep the place going. The coronavirus restrictions were the final nail in the coffin.’
Caroline and Charles Hurt try to stay ‘unsentimental’ over the sale of a property that’s been in the family for six centuries
He and his wife Caroline had been dependent on the income generated from special events and from renting the house out for weekend parties. The Grade II*-listed 18th Century property high above the Manifold Valley has been used for several TV period dramas, including Peaky Blinders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot.
With most of the art and land sold…
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