Stephen Hough appeals to save Elgar’s birthplace

Stephen Hough appeals to save Elgar’s birthplace


norman lebrecht

July 16, 2022

The pianist Sir Stephen Hough has appealed to the National Trust to continue its curatorship of the Elgar birthplace in Broadheath after it appeared that its mandate was running out.

He tweeted: ‘Please keep Elgar’s Birthplace safe under the @nationaltrust  umbrella.’

The Trust replied, worryingly: ‘Hi Stephen. We took on an initial 5 year lease of The Firs which was extended by a further 2 years in 2021. The current lease will expire at the end of 2023 and we are looking at options for Elgar’s Birthplace beyond that. Thanks.’

‘Looking at options’ is never good news.

Stephen responded; ‘The best option for our beloved Sir Edward would be to keep it in @nationaltrust  hands. In some ways he is as important to British culture as Shakespeare, and we should do everything possible to protect such a national treasure.’



  • Max says:

    I wouldn’t trust the National Trust with anything these days.
    They’ve woked themselves into a laughing stock and Elgar may well be on the wrong side of identity politics now.

  • Una says:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t even know who Elgar was, or know his music, or aware of his significance, by the sounds of the National Trust’s response. Thanks to Stephen. See what happens next!

  • Scorn says:

    Is anything safe in the hands of the National Trust? They will be, or more likely already have, doing a thorough investigation into his family’s ties with slave traders at any time from the1600s, his, & all of his family’s sexuality for the four generations before him and those since.
    Only when they are satisfied that the Elgar extended family conformed to the National Trust 2020’s view of the world will their pronouncement be made.
    Cynic, moi? No just a Brit fed up with the woke National Trust.

  • Doug Grant says:

    A woke, pop culture obsessed nation isn’t interested in celebrating anything of the past or anyone of genius.

    • Helen says:

      A lot of people have cancelled their membership of the NT because they do care.

      • Restore Trust says:

        Please remain a member of the NT. You need to vote at the AGM to make a difference. You can also ask a question at the AGM.

  • Alan says:

    As important as Shakespeare? Ridiculous hyperbole.

  • Mark Mortimer says:

    I quite agree with Stephen Hough. Visited Elgar’s birthplace once- a touching & quite humble memorial to the great man- which needs to be preserved at all costs.

  • Gary C Woodward says:

    I suppose everything has its moment. But Elgar is so closely associated with Worcestershire. It would be shame to lose this asset along the the “Elgar” path that stretches from Worchester down to the Malvern Hills.

  • Duncan says:

    The Elgar Foundation had care of the place but could not afford the upkeep so handed it to the NT. The NT have increased visitor numbers by a significant amount, but would not look after the archive (now split between the Worcester Hub and the BritLib). The NT also prettified the birthplace interior and installed a cafe in the visitor centre where the archive had previously been. Merchandise on offer is now general NT stuff rather than the Elgar specific material that used to be there. Nonetheless it must be said that the NT offers the best likely solution to preserving the place. As a nation we should take care of our cultural heritage. Ok, not everybody likes Elgar, but his importance in British music cannot – and should not – be ignored. Once the place is lost it will be so much harder to get it back again.

    • Jonathan Riehl says:

      Thank you for a reasoned response here. I look at this from the other side of the pond but as someone who also spent a lot of his youth in England and is a dedicated Elgarian. I know the NT has been getting hammered by right wing Brexit types for all its cultural “updating” of the country estates and such but one has to think of “best solutions” for preservation. So yes. Something is better than nothing and please check your quibbles and wokeness-worries nonsense at the door. Not only is something better than nothing it is better than the bulldozer.

      • Robin Smith says:

        “right wing Brexit types” – well over 50% of the voting public. Democracy not your thing ?

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        Many on the left voted for Brexit, too. The NT is hell bent on alienating the people who support it – those who love the architectural heritage of the country – and deserve all the opprobrium they garner.

    • Lex says:

      Duncan, is it actually the case now that the archive is split? I thought the local campaigners had lost their battle and the full archive was being transferred to BL (possibly interrupted by Covid)? I know they were worried that losing the archive materials from the Hive (Worcester’s library, which has good enough archive conditions to handle the materials) would have a knock on effect on support for The Firs…

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Is there an Elgar Society with resources sufficient to take over the lease and management of the site? That would be, perhaps, an acceptable alternative to the National Trust — but what is a National Trust if it cannot be entrusted with national treasures like Elgar and residences associated to him?

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      The NT has decided we’re a country of evil people. Maybe Elgar’s house should be transferred to English Heritage before they get infected with this puerile sewage infecting our societies, thanks to that beacon of intelligence, the USA. Loathsome country.

  • PFmus says:

    One has the impression that a greedy privatiser/real estate firm has entered three different comments under three names here, and then had their employees vote them all up, repeatedly attacking the so-called “wokeness” of preserving national historical sites. Must be hoping to ‘flip’ the place and sell it to a Russian oligarch as soon as they finish selling out Ukraine…

    • Robin Smith says:

      You’ve baffled me with this comment. Possibly others too I would have thought.

    • Maxim says:

      Possibly the most deluded comment I’ve ever seen on here! Do you seriously think any commercial interest is remotely concerned with the comments section of slippedisc, let alone prepared to invest time and resources trivially manipulating them?

  • Ronald Kercher says:

    I agree with Stephen Hough. Elgar is our most important composer. The National Trust must keep “The Firs” under it’s wing.
    The National Trust has good and bad traits, but is very important for our national heritage. The coastal path alone is a national asset which has avoided development

  • David Abell says:

    If they can sell off two ancient woodlands (as they have done), they are capable of anything. Keep your membership in order to vote down the executive.

  • D Dodds says:

    National Trust look after Elgar? You must be joking! They can’t even be TRUSTed with Stonhenge.

  • Restore Trust says:

    Does anyone know who owns the freehold? If we know how much a long-term solution would cost, we can then approach the National Trust with a plan. You can write to Restore Trust at