Mansion bequeathed by rich relatives

Is this hurting me? The big pies falling from the sky will kill people.

I watched the ghost comedy “Old House Friends” produced by the BBC during the New Year’s holiday. At the beginning of the plot, a young couple accidentally got the property left by their relatives. The couple was looking around the house with only three melons and dates in their pockets. They had to pick and choose, so they were rejected by the real estate agent. Suddenly, the wife received a call from the lawyer and learned that her step-aunt Barton, whom she had never seen before, had just passed away at the age of 99, leaving her a manor. The lawyer advised them to sell Barton Manor, because it was in disrepair and crumbling, but the young couple decided to move in, renovate, and transform the mansion into a boutique hotel, thereby rising a few steps on the ladder of social class and economic status.

The wrinkles on the lawyer’s forehead were as deep as a plowed field, and they were scheming at first glance. He heard that the husband said that he had repaired the splash plate behind the sink at home by himself, and he knew that the client had never seen the upper class world. He persuaded that repairing this big house is not the same as ordinary repairs, so it might as well investigate it before making a decision. Of course, the screenwriter can’t let the young couple really listen to the “old man’s words”, otherwise how can the story be written down?

This story has a prototype. Barton Manor was shot at West Horsley Manor in the Surrey countryside. The last owner was the legendary Duchess of Roxburg. The history of the manor can be traced back to the 11th century. More than a dozen nobles and knight families lived in the manor. This 50-room mansion has been renovated several times. In 1931, the duchess’ father bought the manor and she officially inherited it in 1973. At this time, the manor house was like the British aristocracy, and it was very old. She has no children and only uses 5 of the rooms. The others are locked up and left to decline and decline, and no longer have the energy to maintain. In 2014, she died when she was 100 years old within three months, leaving a will and donating the estate to her distant relative, Bamber Gascoigne.

Gascoigne is a writer and TV producer. He often shoots cultural and historical documentaries, so he has a sense of mission. He bravely expressed that he accepts the challenge and will maintain this building for the rest of his life so that it will continue to stand as an extraordinary historical monument. Down and open to the public. But he is 79 years old this year, and it is time to take care of him. The manor is not so much a windfall as it is an unbearable financial burden in his life. He is considered an elite class, but he also lives on manuscript fees and royalties, and his personal assets cannot save a manor.

Many rundown nobles were largely dragged down by their ancestral houses. First of all, the property tax makes people feel uncomfortable. Secondly, maintaining the old house is definitely a crushing hard work, and the problems encountered are far beyond imagination. For the manor to operate normally, the required costs include: annual fixed maintenance costs, 40,000 to 100,000 pounds (1 pound is about 8.96 yuan); special maintenance costs to protect sculptures and murals, which may be as much as millions GBP; maintenance fees for roofs, pipelines, courtyard gardens, etc. As for the cleaning fee, it depends on how much work the owner is willing to do. If overall repairs are required, the cost can be tens of millions of pounds. There are also gardeners, cleaners, and other staff, several times the number of the owner’s family, and the salary is huge.

West Horsley Manor is listed as a national first-class protected building and is supervised by various official and semi-official cultural heritage organizations. Dealing with them is definitely a challenge. According to the law, the owner of the house must protect these cultural relics for the country and meet the requirements set by the British Heritage Association. But the state did not give them financial assistance or tax cuts for their owners.

The first thing Gascoigne did after inheriting the manor was the treasure hunt. There are countless treasures in the manor, and even the back of the bedroom door is a draft of the masterpiece “Burning June” by the artist Sir Frederick Layton. Art historians have long known that this draft exists, but they don’t know where it is. With the help of experts, Gascoigne selected 700 pieces of jewellery, paintings, furniture, dresses and handicrafts. In 2015, through Sotheby’s auction house, they raised 2.2 million pounds and started the repair project. To be a digression, this money is really not too much! So, is collecting jewellery, porcelain, furniture and artworks considered a good investment behavior? Can you keep your wealth for your children and grandchildren?

Gascoigne established a foundation, and West Horsley Manor became a place for the public to appreciate art and leisure. The manor was rented out, weddings, company receptions and banquets were held to earn entrance fees and rent. Many old houses in the UK operate in this way. The masters of the new era often live in the wing or the concierge, where the servants used to live.