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National Trust Abuse Not Restricted to Studland Nudists

June 1999

Our cartoonist Ricky writes:

Dear SUN,

On Monday 15 March 1999, en route to Bristol, I decided to have a look at Stonehenge. Although this has nothing to do with nudists or Studland, it has one thing in common: the National Trust. The morning proved so interesting as an exercise in observation, I really must tell you about it.

I remember around thirty years ago, when I was able to wander casually around Stonehenge, strolling quietly through the stones, touching them and getting a real feel of the site and its mysteries, in the wider landscape of the unrestricted open spaces of Salisbury Plain.

How things have changed! A huge vehicle park on the opposite side of the road, with all the usual National Trust trimmings. To cross over the road to the stones, you have the choice of paying the National Trust by going through the regimented turnstiles and under the road by the subway, or walking across the road. Should you choose the latter option, a bright yellow official looking (National Trust) sign warns you "The police advise you to use the subway as the road is dangerous to cross". The authoritative word "police' could strike fear into the hearts of more timid visitors - which is probably the National Trust's intention!

Damn it, I thought. Not wishing to line the pockets of the National Trust in any way with my money, I decided to do a "Watership Down" and walk across the road for free. Remembering my Highway Code, I looked right, left and right again and arrived safely on the other side.

It was immediately obvious that Stonehenge had become part of the behemothian National Trust empire. With a six foot high mesh fencing perimeter enclosing a network of catwalks and tarmac paths, it looked like Monkey World. I had just finished videoing the view through the wire mesh, when I heard a loud gruff voice say "What do you think this is?" It was a khaki-clad (ex-army?) male inside the fence, pointing at the catwalk. He and his similarly clothed colleague were addressing, and looking threateningly at, two women who, I found out afterwards, were two German tourists who had had the temerity to stray off the path into the forbidden zone and had dared to touch one of the stones. "If you do not keep to the path, you will be removed from the area" shouted the National Trust official, speaking to them as if to a couple of naughty kids. It all sounded very familiar to me: were these cloned wardens from the Studland flock?

Walking along outside the confining fence, I spoke loudly enough for all to hear, telling the two women how nice it had been before the National Trust acquired Stonehenge for their own use. With a couple of jokes about fascists (although, unlike Basil Fawlty, I didn't mention the war!), I managed to coax smiles back onto the faces of the tourists.

So there you have it: whatever National Trust management say, it is clear that the rude and offensive manner of some wardens is widespread and not directed solely at Studland nudists who do not want to stay penned within the red posts. That is, however, little comfort to us. As for Public Relations, this is another nail in the National Trust coffin, although I doubt if there is room to bang many more in. I only wish I had kept my camcorder running; what a wonderful negotiating weapon the tape could have been for the Studland United Nudists team fighting to return our area to its former glory. Another time, perhaps?


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