Felbrigg volunteers sent home over gay squire debate

PUBLISHED: 18:30 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:33 04 August 2017

Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer at Felbrigg Hall. Picture: National Trust/Sue James

Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer at Felbrigg Hall. Picture: National Trust/Sue James

© National Trust / Sue James

Volunteers at Felbrigg Hall have described their “heart break” after being forced away from their volunteering posts following the revelation that their beloved benefactor was homosexual.

Felbrigg Hall. Picture: ©National Trust Images/Andrew ButlerFelbrigg Hall. Picture: ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Following the Prejudice and Pride campaign which saw the National Trust revealing more about the private lives of the former residents of their properties, volunteers at Felbrigg Hall have taken objection to the exposure of their benefactors’ sexuality.

When volunteers said they would not wear a badge and lanyard supporting the campaign, they were told “they would not be allowed face to face interaction with the public”, and so many went home.

MORE: National Trust reveals Felbrigg Hall’s last lord of the manor as gay in film narrated by Stephen Fry

Mike Holmes has volunteered at the Hall for 13 years, he said: “Wymondham-Cremer would’ve turned in his grave to know what’s happening. He was an intensely private man, he was never open about his sexuality.

“The National Trust looks after grounds and buildings, they do not have the right to research their benefactor’s private lives to suit the needs of a marketing campaign. It’s abhorrent.”

Mr Holmes, 72, continued: “This is not about the squire’s sexuality, I am not homophobic and that’s not what this is about,

“I have volunteered for 13 years at Felbrigg, I love it and I think nobody could say the volunteers aren’t the greatest advocates for the place.

“There’s a group of about 10 of us that have volunteered for more than 10 years, and we’ve now been told that if we don’t toe the line, we can’t do our jobs.

“People are getting ill over this, they’re losing sleep because they’re missing out on a big part of their daily lives and doing something they love so much.”

A spokesman for the National Trust said: “We are proud to share a fuller portrait of Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer and do not attach shame to his sexuality. The people we interviewed were clear that we weren’t ‘outing’ Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer because amongst those who knew him, this was widely accepted.

Annabel Smith, Head of Volunteering & Participation Development at the National Trust said: “All of our staff and volunteers sign up to our core ambition when they join us – we are an organisation that is for ever, for everyone. “Relating specifically to the Prejudice and Pride programme, we do recognise that some volunteers may have conflicting, personal opinions.

“However whilst volunteering for the National Trust we do request and expect individuals to uphold the values of the organisation.”

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