Ex-prime minister’s home re-opens

The home of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath reopened to the public on 24 March 2014 with its future assured.

Wednesday, 7th May 2014, 11:28 am
The Arundells.
The Arundells.

Arundells in Salisbury, where Sir Edward lived until his death in 2005, is the only residence of a British Prime Minister which remains as it was when he was alive.

The house contains a fascinating and unique collection of artifacts reflecting the former Prime Minister’s passion for art and achievements in music, sailing and politics.

This year, for the first time, visitors will be able to see Sir Edward’s study, where he worked at a desk originally owned by another former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and several of Sir Edward’s ministerial boxes.

In his will, Sir Edward requested that the historic house in the shadow of Salisbury Cathedral be kept open for public viewing, a duty that is upheld by the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation.

At one point it appeared possible that the house would be sold, which was avoided when Peter Batey, Sir Edward’s former Private Secretary and now a China-based business consultant, stepped in to cover a budget deficit.

A central feature of the Heath collection is the former Prime Minister’s affection and admiration for Winston Churchill, under whom he served as a Government Whip in the 1950s.

One of Churchill’s paintings has been restored after being damaged during an attempt by the IRA to bomb Sir Edward’s London flat in the 1970s.

The 18th century Grade II* listed house, parts of which date back to the 13th century, with a beautiful two acre medieval walled garden, contains a large and eclectic range of paintings, European and Oriental ceramics, sailing memorabilia and political mementos including:

A pair of vases from the Qianlong dynasty given to Sir Edward by Chairman Mao

Drawings by Walter Sickert, Augustus and Gwen John and paintings by L.S. Lowry, John Singer Sargent, Winston Churchill and John Piper

Signed photographs of many world leaders from the second half of the 20th century and gifts from political figures including former US President Richard Nixon

Ships made from bone and hair by Napoleonic prisoners of war

Original, signed political cartoons which depict political rivalries from Harold Wilson and John Major to Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s entry into the EEC in 1973 and Sir Edward’s 1990 visit to Iraq where he negotiated the release of Britons taken hostage as a human shield by Saddam Hussein

The Steinway grand piano used for recitals and which he played for friends. Guests including Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Archbishop Runcie, Rory Bremner and Paul Getty would often visit him at Arundells.

Sir Edward’s collection of yachting memorabilia with pictures and models of the five Morning Cloud boats which he owned and raced competitively from 1969 until 1986. A keen yachtsman, Heath won the Admiral’s Cup for Britain in 1971 during his time as Prime Minister.

Visitors can view the dining room where Sir Edward hosted famous Sunday lunches for actors, politicians, artists, comedians, clergy and pop stars.

Arundells reopened on March 24 and is open for guided tours Saturday to Wednesday until October 29.

Booking is recommended. Admission, house and garden Gift Aid £10, Standard £9. Garden only £2.50.

Wheelchair access ground floor only. Ticket information 01722 326546, [email protected], [email protected].