Paradise at Tyntesfield and Leigh Woods

The Green Room (c) Paul Blakemore

The Green Room (c) Paul Blakemore

As part of PARADISE, the contemporary art exhibition at Tyntesfield and Leigh Woods, an exciting and diverse programme of events, talks and workshops delivered by national and international artists has been planned this autumn. These include: experiments with compost and gold leaf, family play weekends and discussions exploring the design of our environment. Continue reading…

James I returns home to Montacute

A painting once given by the King to the owner of Montacute House has been returned to hang in the house again, thanks to a bequest from a guide at the National Trust house.

A portrait of James I by John de Critz was given by the King as a gift to his loyal supporter, Sir Edward Phelips who had built Montacute and served as speaker in Parliament – and one of the prosecutors in the trial of Guy Fawkes in 1605.

James I and Montacute HOuse and Collections Manager  Sonja Power

James I and Montacute HOuse and Collections Manager Sonja Power

The painting – sold long before the Trust acquired Montacute in 1931 – was bought at Sothebys for £199,250.

Now it is set to return to the house, being given a prominent position in a room on the top floor, among other fine works on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.

The house staff have been so excited by the return of the portrait of James I to Montacute that they have set up iPads to show extra information about the painting and its conservation.

‘We sent the painting away for conservation work and detailed investigation and as a result there is so much we’d like to tell people about it – including x-ray photographs which have revealed an under drawing – that we decided using iPads were the best way to share,’ said Sonja Power, House and Collections Manager.

The painting was bought thanks to the bequest of Miss Moira Carmichael, who for over ten years worked at Montacute as a room guide. A former Navy Wren, she has a great affection for the house and left her bequest to help furnish Montacute.

Her present day successors, the volunteer house guides at Montacute, will be on hand with the iPads to give visitors a deeper insight into the painting. For those with their own smart phones, the information will be available to download through QR codes alongside the painting.

‘The painting is a magnificent portrait of the James I, with astonishing detail in his clothes, right down to fine detail in individual pearls. We imagine it would have been given pride of place by Sir Edward when he was given it so we decided we should give it a special prominence in the galleries here,’ added Sonja.

Fairies, sprites, monks and bikes

Floating fairies, pensive monks and hunky Harley Davidsons are not a common sight at Lacock Abbey. Especially not ones made of chicken wire.

That’s all due to change from Saturday 18 February to Sunday 4 March, when an esteemed local artist displays some life-size sculptures in the grounds of the historic property.

For two weeks, visitors will encounter a range of fun figures, including a cyclist on the driveway to the Abbey, a gardener pausing with his wheel barrow, sprites and nymphs playing in the trees and even a gleaming silver motor bike.

The sculptures are part of the Inner Spirit Collection by Westbury based artist Derek Kinzett, whose work has been described as ‘beyond beautiful, stunning and spiritual’.

Award Winning
Derek has won many accolades for his art – he was winner of the Peoples’ Prize at the 2010 Showborough House Sculpture Exhibition, and in 2011 he was selected as one of three British sculptors for The International Sculpture Symposium in South Korea. He’s responsible for the much praised Christmas angels floating above Milsom Street in Bath, and his work has also been commissioned by film star Nicholas Cage, and Tim Green of the Tate Gallery.

‘This is going to be a great display of art in a fantastic setting,’ said Rachael Holtom, Visitor Experience Officer at Lacock Abbey.

‘Although it is winter, our early spring flowers will be out and the crispness of the weather should really compliment Derek’s work. It will be the first art show of its type here at the Abbey, and hopefully not the last.’

Normal admission rates apply. NT members and under 5’s free. For opening times and further information, please phone 01249 730 459 or see