A mat­ter of con­cern

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

There are un­con­firmed re­ports that Om­ber­s­ley Court in Worces­ter­shire, the clos­est Bri­tain gets to a for­got­ten jewel in the 21st cen­tury, could be de­vel­oped as a care home (Let­ters, page 24). The late own­ers, Lord and Lady Sandys, strictly main­tained the pri­vacy of the house; in­deed, no orig­i­nal ma­te­rial on it has been pub­lished since 1953, when Coun­try Life ran a se­ries of ar­ti­cles. From this ac­count and its il­lus­tra­tions, all sub­se­quent pub­li­ca­tions have de­rived their in­for­ma­tion.

The achieve­ment of Lord and Lady Sandys was to oc­cupy, main­tain and man­age the prop­erty suc­cess­fully as a home from the 1960s. The house’s out­stand­ing con­tents were pre­served and the fab­ric was kept in good re­pair. Now, the ex­ecu­tors of Lord Sandys are faced with im­por­tant and far-reach­ing de­ci­sions about the build­ing and its con­tents —some of which have re­cently ap­peared on the mar­ket— that de­serve pub­lic­ity.

Po­ten­tial plans to con­vert Om­ber­s­ley Court into a respite care home would run in the face of cur­rent trends; coun­try houses do not con­form eas­ily to the spe­cial­ist needs of mod­ern care. It would also re­quire ma­jor changes to the build­ing and, as­sum­ing plan­ning con­sent is given, must be vastly ex­pen­sive. To ac­com­mo­date a care home, the con­tents would also have to be re­or­gan­ised and re­duced.

his­toric eng­land is re­ported to be pro­vi­sion­ally sup­port­ive of such a scheme on the grounds that it would pro­vide pub­lic ac­cess to the build­ing. how­ever, if the con­ver­sion com­pro­mises the fab­ric and pre­cip­i­tates the fur­ther break-up of the col­lec­tion, how is the pub­lic served?

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