HC Deb 29 June 1961 vol 643 cc56-7W
Mr. Robert Cooke

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps have been taken to accept the Stoke Edith needlework panels, now at Montacute House, Somerset, in settlement of Estate Duty; and if he will make a statement.

Sir E. Boyle

The Stoke Edith needlework panels were offered to the State in settlement of duty payable on the estate of the late H. T. H. Foley, Esq. They have now been accepted under Section 34 (1) of the Finance Act, 1956, at a cost to the National Land Fund of £12,813, after allowing for Estate Duty exemption.

The panels consist of three needlework hangings dating from the early eighteenth century. They are well known in the literature of Engish embroidery, and by reason of their great scale, spirited drawing and execution, and their satisfactory condition, are by far the finest known to have survived from the reign of William and Mary or Queen Anne. One panel depicts a classical scene, but the other two have special interest because they show contemporary costume and the formal gardens of Stoke Edith House, for which the panels were made, as they then were. The panels have always been in the Foley family and were kept in Stoke Edith House until it was burnt down in 1927. For the last ten years they have been lent to the National Trust for display at Montacute House, Somerset.

The Treasury has now given the necessary direction to enable the panels to continue to be displayed by the National Trust at Montacute House. Provision has been made for the possible transfer of the panels to the Victoria and Albert Museum at a later date. They are at present in the museum undergoing restoration.