Comedian Ricky Gervais helps launch appeal to save historic Burgh House in Hampstead
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:51 28 January 2016
Managers of the Grade I-listed house and museum, which is at the heart of Hampstead cultural life, need to raise £120,000 to carry out essential rewiring and safety works.
Without the essential repairs, the house, in New End Square, could be forced to close to the public.
Comedian Ricky Gervais and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg have already thrown their weight behind the campaign.
Ricky Gervais, who is a regular visitor to the house, said: “Burgh House is steeped in history and is an important site for the Hampstead community. As a charity, it relies solely on donations and I hope that locals will come together to offer their support for the urgent refurbishment required to keep Burgh House thriving.”
The Burgh House Trust desperately needs to find an extra £120,000 this financial year, on top of existing £200,000 annual operating costs to keep the Queen Anne home open to the public.
In 1978 The Ham&High originally played a leading role in a campaign to save Burgh House from being sold off by Camden Council to a private developer.
Celebrities, including actress Dame Judi Dench and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, joined a group of local campaigners known as The Magificent Seven which included historian Christopher Wade, David Sullivan QC and Heath and Hampstead Society chairwoman Peggy Jay to form the Burgh House Group.
They launched an appeal to save the house for public use and raised £50,000 to buy the lease from Camden Council and form the Burgh House Trust charity to run the venue for the public.
After a refurbishment project, Burgh House and Hampstead Museum officially opened in 1979.
Since then it has developed as a busy hub for arts, concerts, lectures, exhibitions, local societies and education with over 1,000 visitors per day.
The Hampstead Museum has an invaluable collection of 4,000 documents, objects and photographs relating to the history of Hampstead.
The house receives no grants and is self-funded through the hire of the venue for private functions and weddings.
But now, chairman of the Burgh House Trust Matthew Lewin says that all this is at risk unless vital restoration work can take place.
He has launched the Burgh House Renaissance Appeal to raise the money needed to pay for the work.
The project includes rewiring the house from top to bottom, making environmental improvements to the museum, creating more space for outreach and education work and the restoration of historic features, which is a legal requirement of its Grade I listing. Work has already started on restoring crumbling 18th century gates and pillars at the entrance.
Melvyn Bragg said: “Burgh House has become an important and entertaining cultural centre in the heart of Hampstead. The community would be much poorer without it.”
Read Burgh Trust chairman and former Ham & High editor Matthew Lewin’s appeal in today’s Ham&High.
Donations can be made by post to The Burgh House Trust, New End Square, NW3 1LT, or online at: burghhouse.org.uk/supportus