It might seem a bit odd to describe a house which is plainly visible in its principal aspects from the public byway as something of a secret. But Narford Hall is one of that small number of properties which have gathered a degree of notoriety in terms of accessibility. ‘Minimal description due to lack of access to land,’ reads the entry in the listed buildings register; Pevsner was, apparently, similarly rebuffed.
Domain of the Fountaines for over 300 years, the Grade I Hall acquired its palatial bearing during the tenure of noted aesthete Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753). Latterly, it gained dubious prominence thanks to the activities of enthusiastic arborialist and redoutable racist Andrew Fountaine (1918-1987). Having the, er, distinction of being the first-ever National Front candidate to contest a Parliamentary seat (Acton, 1968), Fountaine was a prime mover in the BNP/NF cause throughout the ’60s and ’70s, even hosting an Aryan camp at Narford. But in the ’80s Fountaine ‘largely abandoned his efforts to save the British race and concentrated instead on planting trees on his estate‘*, which still runs to several thousand acres.
Handed on wonders if any of his fascist fellow-travellers got a look inside the big house. More broadly, do ‘we, the public, deserve access’ to Britain’s Grade I buildings?, as Ruth Watson seemed to assert in her Country House Rescue visit to Kentchurch Court. If so, then let’s all pile back onto the coach, next stop…
*Daily Telegraph, 25 Sept 1997