Comparisons can be, and often are, invidious. However, on occasion, and one such as this, they serve to make and illustrate a point.
|Osterley Park, a Neo-Classical mansion, property of The National Trust|
|Cziráky-kastély, a Neo-Classical mansion, property of the Hungarian State, with custodian|
Osterley Park lies within easy reach of London. The Cziráky-kastély, at Lovasberény, is not so many miles from Budapest. Osterley, complete with Adam interiors, pleasure grounds and landscaped park is generally regarded as one of the finest Neo-Classical houses in Britain. It is maintained to an exceptionally high standard by The National Trust. The Cziráky-kastély is considered to be one of the most significant examples of Neo-Classical architecture in Hungary. Its park, dating back to the eighteenth century and in the English style, extends to some 40 hectares. Both house and grounds, ruinous and ravaged by time, neglect, occupying armies, and complete indifference, are in the ownership of the Hungarian State with day to day responsibility delegated to the National Trust for Monuments.
|the main entrance hall of Osterley Park as designed by Robert Adam|
|the main entrance hall of Cziráky-kastély at Lovasberény, Hungary|
It is, we regret to say, a total disgrace. Advertised as open daily, we were fortunate to time our visit to a Saturday when it was possible to rouse the custodian by telephone who, it must be said, quite cheerfully cycled from the village, cutting across the park, dog at his side, keys jangling from his belt, to give us entry.
|doorway to principal rooms - note the custodian's hat - designed in an 'enfilade' arrangement|
|an internal corridor in the guest wing - note the wiring - similar to one in the servants' wing|
Permitted to wander at will, our 'guide' meanwhile having retired to read his paper beneath the portico, we risked both life and limb to explore this vast shell of a one time splendid mansion. Falling plaster, bare brick, exposed timbers, dirt, dust and decay all combine to tell a sad, sorry story.
|the Baroque chapel, as viewed from an upper window, situated in the English style park|
|detail of the exterior of the Baroque chapel in the park - one of several similar statues|
|remains of a wall painting in the interior of the chapel having been partially restored|
Outside the loveliest of Baroque chapels, emptied of its contents, shares dandelion-rich parkland with the ubiquitous Co-op Food Store. Power to the proletariat indeed!
|a Co-op Food Store built in the mansion's parkland sometime during the 1960s or 1970s|
But what, we ask ourselves, of the future of this priceless treasure? Clearly billions of Hungarian forint, and enormous will on the part of government and people, are urgently required if this, and so many buildings like it, are to be saved.
|the National flag of Hungary flies proudly over the mansion - but to what real purpose?|
No wonder Osterley looks safe, secure, and not a little smug in comparison.