50 years after the National Trust site at Wallington Hall, Morpeth opened its doors to the public, Newcastle University hosted ‘Gifted to a Grateful Nation?’, an event to commemorate and discuss the importance of Charles Trevelyan’s impressive benefaction.
Sir Trevelyan was a wealthy landowner and Socialist politician in the 20th century. In 1928 he inherited Wallington Hall and, in 1942 donated the 13,000 acre estate, which had been in the Trevelyan family since 1777, to the National Trust.
‘Gifted to a Grateful Nation?’ took place in the Armstrong Building on 6th October. It included a performance by the November Club theatre company which reimagined the moment that Trevelyan came to Newcastle to announce his donation. This was followed by a panel discussion about the importance of heritage sites to English culture and how their role could change in the future. Panellists included George Trevelyan, whose grandfather was the brother of Sir Charles, Jill Taylor-Roe, a librarian at Newcastle University, and Megan Wilson, a PhD student at Newcastle University, among others. Jill Taylor-Roe also spoke about the Trevelyan archive, which is housed at Newcastle University, and how it can be explored to shed more insight on Trevelyan’s decision to donate such a large swathe of land.
Gillian Mason, who works for the National Trust at Wallington said that the event “Is the finale to a programme celebrating 50 years of the National Trust at Wallington. Working in partnership with November Club, the story of Sir Charles’ gift has been shared with visitors to the property through a series of installations, activities and pop-up theatre.”
Dr Annie Tindley, as Newcastle University lecturer in Modern British History explained that Wallington Hall is one of the largest gifts ever made to the National Trust and that, “the event is our opportunity to explore the consequences of this gift. As well as looking back at the past fifty years, the event will look ahead to the next fifty and beyond.”
The National Trust was founded in 1895 and has worked to preserve and protect historic places and sites of interest ever since. Wallington Hall is one of over 300 historic houses, spanning across the country from Pensance to Lindisfarne, in the care of the National Trust.
A series of events is also taking place at Wallington Hall from May to November called ‘Time Tests Faith’ These events will inform audiences about the heated negotiations between Trevelyan and the National Trust as he tried to donate his estate whilst continuing to reside there with his family.
Wallington Hall is now open to the public year round.