Uncertainty over Dunford House artefacts ‘saddening’

Richard Cobden's great great grandson Nick Cobden Wright  Photo by Derek Martin Photography.
Richard Cobden's great great grandson Nick Cobden Wright Photo by Derek Martin Photography.

The future of a set of family artefacts has been called into doubt as an historic family home looks to be sold.

Dunford House, which was owned by politician Richard Cobden, is set to be sold and the artefacts inside will be gifted to other groups.

The West Lavington house was gifted to the YMCA on the condition it was used for educational purposes but the charity caused controversy when it announced it would be selling the property.

Nick Cobden-Wright, the great-great-grandson of Richard Cobden, has been leading the charge to preserve the history of the estate for the community.

After a call for greater public consultation on the sale, (Observer August 29), the Charity Commission has confirmed a public notice was placed in The Times’ newspaper and displayed on the commission’s website for a month from May 17.

Mr Cobden Wright said: “Obviously I am deeply saddened the permanent endowment can be so easily dissolved by a singular notification in a national newspaper despite so much objection and that 300 years of Cobden association with Dunford can so swiftly come to an end.

“I sincerely hope the YMCA will agree to re-gifting the Cobden artefacts to the educational charity which has been set up in Richard Cobden’s name so my ancestor’s values of social justice, compassion and support for those less well-off are not forgotten.”

The artefacts, some priceless, will be gifted, the YMCA has said.

A spokesman for YMCA England and Wales said: “The Charity Commission has not stipulated that YMCA must gift the artefacts to an educational charity linked to Richard Cobden, however, YMCA will be gifting a number of artefacts but no decision has yet been made on who they will be gifted to.

“Unfortunately, at present we are unable to comment on the sale of Dunford House nor the intended purpose of any potential buyer.”