Unprecedented grant from ‘fund of last resort’ secures Tyntesfield for the nation

19 March 2003

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) awarded its largest ever award to help secure the future of the outstanding Victorian estate of Tyntesfield, near Bristol. 


A grant of £17.4million was made possible by releasing not only the Fund’s endowment surplus but also dipping into its core endowment fund, ensuring that the remarkable Victorian country house will be saved for the nation.

NHMF Trustees took the decision to support the National Trust’s bid to save Tyntesfield in recognition of the importance of the estate, house and contents and their desire to help secure its future in its entirety for everyone to enjoy.  The response reflects the NHMF’s belief, expressed by many other experts and strongly supported locally, that Tyntesfield has a tremendous story to tell and the potential to be a major asset and attraction.

“We said that we would dig deep into our funds to save Tyntesfield, and we have done so,”  said Liz Forgan, Chair, National Heritage Memorial Fund.  “What marks out Tyntesfield is the remarkable completeness of the estate, the house and its contents.  Its great rarity, and the threat that the estate, the house and contents might be split apart, made it a strong candidate for National Heritage Memorial Fund support.  As the nation’s ‘fund of last resort’, the Memorial Fund was created to act in precisely such emergencies.  This was the last chance for Tyntesfield to be kept together as an entity and our unprecedented award means that the future of Tyntesfield is now secure.”

The National Heritage Memorial Fund is the country’s ‘fund of last resort’, created in 1980 to act in precisely such emergencies. Set up with the proceeds of the National Land Fund in the aftermath of the public outcry over the failure to save the Victorian country house Mentmore and its contents, it receives £5million grant-in-aid from the Government each year to help save important parts of our national heritage as a memorial to those who gave their lives in two world wars.

Memorial Fund at risk

The Fund set up an initial endowment of £10million, which has built with interest accumulated on this initial figure and by 2002 included a small surplus.  In an emergency NHMF Trustees are able to borrow from the core endowment if necessary to save important heritage under threat.  The decision to provide the substantial grant of £17.4million to save Tyntesfield meant that NHMF Trustees were forced to use some of the core endowment fund as well as the surplus.  The core endowment now has to be built back up to its original value.

With no further funding available for NHMF until we receive our £5m grant-in-aid from the Government in the next financial year, the extent of our support for Tyntesfield means that we have been unable to provide funding to save other items of national importance since May 2002.

Saving the nation’s heritage for 22 years

The National Heritage Memorial Fund has been saving treasures for the UK for 22 years, lending support totalling £212million for more than 1,200 items of national importance  including the acquisition of many other historic properties, such as Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire and Hill House in Helensburgh, Scotland, and providing rescue funding for other threatened parts of our heritage from HMS Trincomalee to the ancient Sherborne Missal for the British Library and objects from the Scott/Shackleton antarctic missions including Scott’s pennant, set up at the South Pole in 1912.

Further information

Katie Owen, Lydia Davies or Sam Goody, National Heritage Memorial Fund press office
Phone: 020 7591 6036/2/3