The family of pioneering politician Richard Cobden are rallying to save his historic home, Dunford House at West Lavington, after learning it was in danger of being converted into new homes.
Following an article in the Observer in September, villagers, who had launched a campaign to save the house, were put in touch with Cobden’s great, great, great grandson Nick Cobden Wright, who is now leading the campaign on behalf of members of the family around the world.
Nick told the Observer the whole family was shocked to hear the YMCA, which now owns the house and has been using it as a training, conference and wedding venue, had plans to sell it with permission for an alternative use.
Many priceless personal possessions remain in the house, including Cobden’s library containing many of his personal papers, family paintings and the seal used on the corn law repeal documents.
Nick recently visited Dunford with Chris and Lydia Boxley, who were among the original campaigners.
“It brought back many happy memories,” he told the Observer. “The family have held annual gatherings at Dunford House for many years after it was donated by my family to the YMCA. As many as 40 of us from around the world met there every year until as recently as 2014 and we are all desperately keen to save it for the family, local people and the nation.”
He has now been given a January deadline by the YMCA to come up with a plan for the future of Dunford House.
“I am making a call to arms. We need to convert local, national and global support and passion into action and donations. We have many high profile backers who are focussed on saving Dunford as a museum for the Cobden artefacts, a conference and education centre under the governance of a charity grounded in the values of Richard Cobden, which included free trade, peace and international goodwill.”