National Trust tight-lipped over future of Rufford Old Hall

Questions are being asked about the future of Grade I-listed Rufford Old Hall.
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The National Trust, which owns and runs the site, closed the hall and grounds to visitors at the first national lockdown in March, and has kept it closed since.

Now, with other grounds reopened, concerns have been raised by Trust members about why Rufford Old Hall is remaining mothballed.

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While Trust bosses declined to give a specific reason for the prolonged closure, they pointed to cost-cutting measures, but said they “hope to welcome you as soon as we can”.

Rufford Old Hall, which has been closed for much of 2020Rufford Old Hall, which has been closed for much of 2020
Rufford Old Hall, which has been closed for much of 2020

A spokesman said: “We have to make savings of around £100m each year due to the pandemic and we have had to make some difficult decisions around resourcing that has temporarily affected the reopening of some of our places. That is why we have taken the difficult decision to close Rufford Old Hall for the remainder of 2020.

“We know this will be disappointing news for many of our supporters and we share that disappointment in not being able to welcome you this year. We will be reviewing our plans for 2021 and hope to welcome you as soon as we can.”

In July, the Trust warned job losses and budget cuts were inevitable after almost every aspect of its income was hit by the coronavirus crisis. It had proposed making 1,200 compulsory redundancies across the organisation, saving almost £60m of its annual staff budget.

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But following a wide-ranging consultation with affected staff and voluntary redundancies,the number of compulsory job losses has reduced by half.

When asked if the closure was because there wasn’t money to pay for staff to run the hall, for maintenance, or security, the Trust declined to answer directly.

Instead, a spokesman said management of properties was being tailored to “their own unique characteristics, while ensuring they continue to offer visitors and supporters the first class experience they have come to expect from us.

They declined to comment on whether any staff members had been made redundant or furlouged at Rufford Old Hall.