The National Trust’s controversial plan to breed new ancient manor houses for future generations has come under fire, following a failed attempt to mate the Somerset-based Elizabethan manor Montacute House with the ruins of Corfe Castle in Dorset. Critics regard the programme as expensive and misguided.
'How the trust thought any good would come of this is beyond me,’ thundered Nigel Cockbain of the pressure group Save Historic Houses from Inbreeding (SHHI). 'And even if these two mismatched properties had somehow succeeded in getting it together, what would their offspring have looked like? I didn't pay my £68 family membership fee for this.'
Rebecca Gidman, director of livestock policy for the National Trust, told reporters that after an unsuccesful night of foraging around the keep at Corfe, Montacute House will be put on rollers and transported home tonight. 'Getting old buildings to copulate with each other is a tricky business,’ she admitted. ‘We’ll try again.’
The house breeding progamme calls for mansions to be cross-bred in the South-West, where they are super-abundant, and their offspringreleased into the wilds of East Anglia, where they are endangered. The Trust argues this is necessary because its houses are simply not reproducing in sustainable numbers.
'Our stately homes have enough trouble breeding in the wild thanks to invasions by grey homes from Eastern Europe, brown flat pack varieties from Scandanavia and timber-framed US styles,' argued Gidman. ‘At present replacement rates, we will completely run out of places to sell tea towels and pots of marmalade by 2050.’
Next this summer, St Michael’s Mount is to be floated up the Bristol Channel to breed with Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire so as to create a new line of Queen Anne country homes with medieval chapels on top. Cockbain, however, is sceptical. ‘Everybody knows Mikey-boy is gay. Why do you think he hangs around the coast all the time dressed flamboyantly and facing his French namesake, who even looks exactly the same? Duh.’