BBC viewers to witness Devon’s decaying hidden treasure

BBC viewers to witness Devon’s decaying hidden treasure
BBC viewers to witness Devon’s decaying hidden treasure

A much-loved National Trust property in Devon will feature in a new BBC series starting this month. Hidden Treasures of the National Trust starts on Friday, May 10, on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 9pm.

A la Ronde in Devon will be featured in the first program when the series returns to the BBC for a second run. The program will reveal new and compelling stories about the work going on behind the scenes of the National Trust to conserve incredible objects and properties and the passionate staff and volunteers who care for them.

Each episode explores a different central theme, linking the houses, their histories, and collections as they undergo conservation. From graceful Georgian homes that were platforms for political power, to houses that become display cases for the curious collections of their owners and properties designed as show-homes for the English country house idyll.


The six-part series will visit some of the National Trust’s best-known locations in the South West including Kingston Lacy in Dorset, Stourhead in Wiltshire, Killerton near Exeter and Saltram in Plymouth.

In the first program viewers will get to see the huge conservation project which is under way at A la Ronde. The crowning glory of the Parminters’ creation is the Shell Gallery, a single round room at the very top of the house, the walls of which are covered in more than 26,000 seashells.

But after over two centuries of wear and tear the gallery is in dire need of conserving. Now the huge task of piecing back together this nautical jigsaw falls to conservator Rachel Lawson and her team de ella, in time for the last surviving female owner of A La Ronde, and descendant of the Parminters, Ursula Tudor Perkins, to see the finished gallery .

Emma Mee, Project Manager at A la Ronde said, “Due to many years of decay, the Shell Gallery and Grotto Staircase were extremely fragile and access to these spaces is sadly not possible if we want to ensure its survival for the future, we are delighted that viewers will get to see behind the scenes of this fascinating place and the many challenges we face in caring for it.”

Megan Berrisford, Collections and House Manager, Kingston Lacy said: “It was wonderful to be able to highlight the variety of collections projects we are carrying out every day – particularly our important repair of the picture rail in the Saloon which led to an exciting redisplay of the paintings, for the first time in 40 years.”

Alistair Pegg, BBC Arts commissioning editor, says: “I’m delighted to be delving behind the scenes once more at the National Trust, uncovering hidden histories of houses and their owners, secrets of the painstaking conservation carried out on beautiful objects and buildings, and the wonderful staff and volunteers who work, often unsung, across the country.”

Tarnya Cooper, Curatorial and Conservation Director at the National Trust, says: “History comes to life before you at National Trust properties. Across hundreds of sites we have well over a million objects, which tell fascinating stories of the generations of people who commissioned, made and loved them.

“Looking after such diverse objects and places takes dedicated teams of people as well as expert conservators, and we hope BBC viewers will enjoy learning more about them and their work on wonderful collections ranging from must-see paintings and furniture to books and textiles to amazing architectural features.”

Hidden Treasures of the National Trust starts on Friday, May 10, on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer at 9pm

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