28 June 2002

National Trust secures bulk of historic estate

By Andrew Shirley

THE National Trust is the new owner of Tyntesfield, the Somerset home of the late Lord Wraxhall that was launched in a blaze of publicity earlier this year.

Australian singer Kylie Minogue was touted as a possible buyer for the 1870-acre estate, but after raising almost £24m -including £17.5m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and over 50,000 private donations – the NT bought the bulk of the property.

This includes the principal 43-bedroomed neo-Gothic residence and its contents, 139 acres of parkland and gardens and Tyntesfield home farm, which runs to 391 acres.

Agent Mark Syrett, handling the sale for FPDSavills, said he expected to wrap up the 14-lot balance of the disposal within the next few weeks. "Now we have sold the core of the estate all the loose ends can be tied up."

None of the parties involved in the sale would comment on the actual price paid, although a spokesman for Savills did concede that the majority of the money raised by the NT would have gone towards the acquisition.

The guide price for the property element was £7.5m but the contents would have been worth far more. "If it had gone to auction it would have been the biggest sale of its kind," said Hugh Edmeades of auction house Christies.

Mr Syrett said the NT was given no special treatment and the sale proceeded on an open market basis. "The executors were bound to get best value for the beneficiaries." However, the trusts chairman Charles Nunneley did admit there had been an element of inheritance tax mitigation for Lord Wraxalls 19 heirs involved.

The move is a change of direction for the NT which has not bought a major country house since 1991, preferring to concentrate on preserving properties of social and vernacular importance.

"It was so significant we could not stand by and see the estate dispersed," said NT director general Fiona Reynolds.

"It was a unique sale," agreed Clive Hopkins, of Knight Frank, who acted for the trust.

&#8226 Cluttons is relaunching another historic estate. Guided at £16-18m, Sutton Place, near Guildford, Surrey, features a Tudor mansion built in 1523 by Sir Richard Weston, a favourite councillor of King Henry VIII, and 740 acres of park and grassland.

Currently used by American collector Frederick Koch to house his art collection, Sutton Place was previously owned by John Paul Getty, whose son Sir Paul Getty is rumoured to be one of the major donors to the National Trusts campaign to buy Tyntesfield. &#42