On Tuesday evening (05 October 2021) the thirtieth anniversary of The Merchant’s House Trust and the ‘Peppercorn Rent’ ceremony took place in the Assembly Room of the Town Hall.
In 1990 The Merchant’s House – one of Marlborough’s old and original iconic buildings, that was built just after the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 was purchased by a Trust, The Merchant’s House Trust, specially created for the purpose headed by the recently deceased Sir John Sykes, along with the (late) Richard Clapp and (late) Vic Chinnery and Diana Keast. The aim, vision and foresight for the Trust was to establish The Merchant’s House as one of Marlborough’s preserved and historic buildings for the future generations.
That was thirty years ago……
Whilst the past eighteen months have proved arduous and difficult for the Trust, the House and Shop were shut, with most staff on furlough, but things continued and the Trust has been able to use this soujourn from normal and everyday routine to use the time to plan for the future.
Tuesday evening’s ceremony was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Rose Troughton – Patron of The Merchant’s House, her husband, Peter Troughton along with Trust Chair Alison Galvin-Wright, Marlborough Mayor Councillor Mark Cooper and, of course Mr and Mrs Bayly from the House (Sue and Andy Pearson).
The Trust has launched a 30th Anniversary Appeal to raise £150,000 to help keep this iconic 17th century building, now nearly 370 years old in a good state of repair. Over the past year the Trust has commissioned a report on the state of the building which identified that a great deal of work was required on the roof and many other aspects of the building.
Chair Alison Galvin-Wright thanked everyone for all their efforts. She added: “The house and shop are opening up again and we look forward to getting tours and educational products up to speed. But, we need all of our volunteers to come back and help us. We are very Covid aware in the house for tours, events and in the shop.
“Our volunteers are our life blood and we greatly appreciate off of them – many of them have been part of our family for a long time and support us in many ways – in the shop, as guides, in the garden, producing the beautiful turkey and bargello work, and helping in the trust office, the library & archive, the museum and elsewhere.
“I also want to thank our staff who work tirelessly for the charity and of course, my fellow trustees. Difficult problems have been dealt with and we all hope for better times ahead to continue our work for this beautiful and iconic house which is still giving up secrets.”
She explained about the report, the works required and what was needed: “During the pandemic, the Trustees took the opportunity to commission a report on the state of the building. After three years of looking after the conservation of the inside of the house, building up collections and opening the Marlborough Museum, it was the turn of the outside. The result of the report was that the work needed to the 1653 building was not drastic but needed work roof and other structures, which amount to £150,000.