Cream teas at dawn: inside the war for the National Trust

One of the UK’s most beloved organisations is under siege over its efforts to reckon with Britain’s slave-owning history. Who will win the battle for its soul? One by one, they tackle the steeply winding path to Penrhyn Castle, pausing halfway to admire the view over a sparkling blue sea. Extended families grapple with pushchairs and picnic cool boxes; there are dapper older gentlemen in panama hats, and panting labradors. A blackboard at the entrance advertises traditional games every Thursday, while the gift shop is a soothing vision of gardening tools, tea towels and jars of chutney. As Eleanor Harding, the National Trust’s thoughtful young assistant curator for Wales, enters the castle’s ornate library, a volunteer guide says brightly: “No negative comments today!” Over the past year, the trust has attracted its fair share of those. An institution best known for stately homes, scones and bracing walks has found itself plunged into an unlikely culture war over how the history it is charged with preserving for the nation should be interpreted. Continue reading...

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