§ Mr. Carol Johnson
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he is yet in a position to make a statement on the progress of negotiations for the acquisition of Heveningham Hall.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am glad to be able to inform the House that I have reached agreement with the Trustees of the Heveningham Hall Settlement on the terms for acquisition of Heveningham Hall, 477 acres of land and an agreed list of contents of the house. Subject to Parliamentary approval in due course, acquisition will be under section 5 of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act, 1953. The contents to be acquired include all the furniture designed by James Wyatt for the house. This furniture, the house itself, which was designed by Sir Robert Taylor and completed by Wyatt, and the grounds laid out by Capability Brown, are an outstandingly complete unity of design from the late eighteenth century.
The National Trust have agreed to look after the property for the time being as my agents and I shall be discussing with them and the East Suffolk County Council permanent arrangements for the care of the property. I am sure that the house and grounds will provide a valuable amenity asset for the residents of the county as well as for an increasing number of visitors from this country and overseas. I hope that the attractions of the estate can be even further enhanced by a most generous gift. Dr. Theodore Besterman has offered his collection of English water colours and drawings to the nation, plus a small library of relevant books, with an appropriate endowment and I will discuss with him and the Trust the possibility of accommodating it at Heveningham Hall.