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parrot_knight [userpic]

A house in North Wales

April 25th, 2011 (02:48 pm)

One of the side-effects of being at my parents' for two consecutive weekends is that I've seen two consecutive weeks of Channel 4's Country House Rescue. Ruth Watson's target this week was Pen-y-lan, a house near Ruabon in North Wales (the remnant of a larger property as most was demolished over half a century ago) inhabited by Emma Holloway and (at times) her grown-up children. One wonders who nominated Pen-y-lan as a subject for the programme and arranged for Emma Holloway to allow the cameras, production team and Ruth Watson in. Emma Holloway was portrayed as withdrawn and unrealistic; information in the commentary suggested that she had moved to the house (acquired by the Holloway family in the 1840s according to The Country Seat - Emma's family, or her husband's?) to recover from a divorce and that she was still dealing with the emotional consequences. Her children were depicted as carelessly using the house as a country party venue where they entertained their friends before heading back to their metropolitan lifestyles; I was reminded of Hugh Massingberd's account of how his fellow trainee solicitors liked to be invited up to the family flat at the ancestral seat of Gunby in Lincolnshire (already transferred to the National Trust) in his memoir Daydream Believer.

Reality television is often bullying television but this was the most extreme case I've seen on Country House Rescue. Emma Holloway's fragility was exploited and one suspects exaggerated mercilessly by the questioning and editing, and it's a pity nothing was said about the developments underway at Pen-y-lan mentioned on the Historic Houses Association website, where it's revealed as now open for wedding receptions - Emma Holloway was at least depicted as an exceptional cook - and where a civil marriages licence isto be applied for. There seems to be confusion about who actually built the house, too - it was built in 1690 by the founder of Lloyds Bank, we were told, but as Sampson Lloyd was not born until 1699 either eighteenth-century Birmingham metalworking was far more advanced than the technology of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, or the founder of the Lloyd business interest as a whole (which took a couple of generations to get into banking) was intended. The programme's account suggested a lack of sensitivity towards a delicate situation of which the audience were not fully informed, and resulted in unsatisfactory television.