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31.8.05

Hirst's Haunted Mansion

Toddington Manor, Gloucestershire, site of the future Hirst museumThis sounds like such fun, and I'm filing it under the rubric of collector-focused museums (like the Phillips, the Barnes, the Estorick, the Meyerhoff's plans here near Washington). It comes from Steven Morris's article (Hirst snaps up rotting Gothic manor, September 1) for The Guardian today:

Most potential buyers would be put off by the red-tinged blooms of dry rot, not to mention the overwhelming gothic style of the architecture and rows of haunting, crumbling statues of long-dead kings. Yet these features may have attracted the new owner of Toddington Manor, Gloucestershire. Damien Hirst, the sometime shark-pickler and cow-halver [my emphasis: ha!], yesterday revealed he had bought the mansion and intends to turn it into a museum to house his collection of his own and other people's art.

Hirst fell in love with the grade one listed building as soon as he saw it and now regards it as a lifetime's work to restore the mansion and grounds, which have fallen into serious disrepair. His ambition will not come cheap. He is believed to have spent about £3m to acquire the 124-acre estate and may need as much as £10m to refurbish it. Villagers and conservationists who have long feared for the future of the house welcomed the news that Hirst, who has a large working studio in Gloucestershire, is to be the new lord of the manor. Adam Stanford, a historian and archaeologist who has written about the house, said: "It's an eerie sort of place which I could imagine would chime with Hirst's imagination.
The beautiful image above, which took some searching to locate, will allow you to connect a picture of the place with the story. The manor is on the English Heritage registry.

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