A campaign to save Dunford House in West Lavington took a step forward this week with new hope the property could be bought by a foundation of friends and family with an historic connection to the property.
Dunford House, home of pioneering politician Richard Cobden, is due to be sold by the YMCA, a decision that shocked villagers who had launched a campaign to preserve it and hoped the property might be gifted to the Cobden Foundation.
Now the YMCA has revealed that the sale of the important piece of heritage ‘may not be based on price alone’ and it ‘would welcome’ an offer from the foundation, set up by Richard Cobden’s great, great, great, grandson Nick Cobden Wright.
Nick said the ‘very encouraging’ statement marked ‘a turning point’.
He said: “There’s renewed hope, we’re feeling more positive, that this could happen.
“With the YMCA, we’re working together, it’s not a them and us, we don’t see it like that and they don’t either. We’re on the same page, we want the best for Dunford.”
He said the house had a number of covenants on it and heritage conditions that made the Cobden Foundation ideally placed to look after it.
Its need for maintenence was one reason he understood there was such a strong feeling in the community that the house needed to be kept for future generations.
Villagers were very willing to ‘get their sleeves up’ and help out, he said and he felt Richard Cobden would have approved of a peaceful resolution.
“There’s a big community support in terms of what we see but it’s a case of converting it into something active, and something positive,” he said.
He said he was very grateful to Chris and Lydia Boxley, who contacted him about the house’s plight after an article in the Observer and who worked very hard on the campaign.
The next step will be a gigantian fundraising effort towards making an offer on the property, thought to be worth up to £2million, to be submitted this month.
Notable voices of support include author Phillipa Gregory, who wrote about her backing for the project in The Times.
Nick said: “This is the moment to really push it over the line.”
To find out more visit www.cobdenfoundation.org