Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Henley Bridge Rotary Club

CONSERVATION of historic houses and open spaces for the National Trust was the subject of Laura

CONSERVATION of historic houses and open spaces for the National Trust was the subject of Laura Gangadeen’s illustrated talk to the club at its meeting at Badgemore Park Golf Club.

She began with the refurbishment of Greys Court in 2004, which was her first major project after joining the trust with a degree in heritage studies.

She started by cataloguing family items and photographs as well as 5,486 objects.

Items such as chandeliers were carefully wrapped, packed and recorded so they could be re-assembled correctly later. The house was then covered in tarpaulin and the roof removed to repair ancient gulleys, timbers and stonework.

Conservators were then able to explore the building from above, both the Tudor early part and the 17th century extension.

The roof was replaced with air-dried oak, hand-made tiles and cotton hemp insulation.

Mrs Gangadeen spoke about the excellent work done by volunteers and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies in bringing ancient houses to life for the public and providing security and knowledge in answers to visitors’ questions.

Greys Court likes to have cooking and baking in the Brunners’ kitchen and crafts being made in the living rooms.

After Greys Court, Mrs Gangadeen worked as house manager for Nuffield Place where, among other activities, she was responsible for reviving Lady Nuffield’s Wolseley 8, nicknamed BUD from its number plate.

She is currently curator for South Oxfordshire, including the Chiltern Hills and West Wycombe as well as some of Hampshire.

The National Trust works with residents and landowners to protect the aesthetic value of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Hamble brook is one of only a few chalk streams in Britain that is under threat and Mrs Gangadeen is working with the Environment Agency to assess what can be done to protect a perfect habitat for indigenous insects, fish, plants and mammals.

During questions, Jim McWhirter wondered why most National Trust properties seemed to be more accessible than previously.

Mrs Gangadeen replied that the trust had decided to keep most sites open 363 days a year by popular request from its many members.

Peter Adnitt gave the vote of thanks.

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