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Tyntesfield's salvation merits real celebration

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As Martin Pawley writes his column questioning the validity of the conservationists' latest cause (AJ 16.5.02), he also provides the obvious answer to his question, while not looking to the future of the building, furniture, collections, parks and gardens.

Tyntesfield and its collections have been lovingly cared for by the Gibbs family since the construction of the building.

They have added to its collections over time, and have maintained the building and gardens to a high standard - something that can be said of few owners of great buildings.

The current crisis has come about because none of the 19 inheritors can afford to buy out the other and continue the fine work of their predecessors; ergo the executors of Lord Wraxall's will have a duty to sell the estate, house and contents.

Perhaps rather than asking what Tyntesfield is to be saved from, he should ask himself what it is to be saved for. Sadly, his less than sunny disposition towards heritage seems to have blinded him to the fabulous opportunities Tyntesfield presents for education, inspiration and conservation. The heritage world has not called for the house to be preserved in aspic - indeed, the calls have been for quite the opposite, as Martin will hopefully realise from the copy of our report on the building, collections, gardens and parks, which is now winging its way to him.

Developers and architects winning a permission or a commission is barely newsworthy (in the broadsheets) because it is a common occurrence, whereas major victories for a more altruistically minded heritage lobby are somewhat rarer and thus a cause for celebration. This is a rare opportunity: let us hope Martin at least finds the saving of this magnificent house and its collections for the nation worthy of his praise.

Adam Wilkinson, secretary, Save Britain's Heritage, London

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