Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire is a pretty typical, privately run stately home. It’s got painted ceilings and Neapolitan cabinets. It’s got extensive gardens and a classical frontage. It’s even got a baronet credited with introducing the garden gnome into Britain. What’s not to love?
What it also seems to have is huge amounts of chutzpah. Lamport has, of course, been closed for much of the pandemic. Now, it is making plans to welcome back visitors. Yesterday, on Facebook, it advertised its Walled Garden Feast event to run from May 17th.
Entry fees range from £20 to £60 per party, depending upon whether you want the seclusion of an igloo (whatever that may be) or are happy to slum it on a hired blanket. Food, including champagne and oysters, must be purchased on top of that. There will be background music too.
And here’s the chutzpah. Lamport initially put out a request for “competent musicians to perform, all styles considered and a picnic hamper will be provided.” To translate: “Come and play at our event. We won’t pay you but we’ll chuck in a cheese sandwich and a packet of Doritos.”
The backlash was pretty much instantaneous. Comments contrasted the fees being charged to the public with the lack of payment and respect shown to musicians who have also struggled to stay afloat during lockdown. A furious – and mainly one-way – discussion erupted about the perniciousness of expecting musicians to play for nothing and just be grateful for the exposure. As one person pointed out, has Lamport Hall asked the caterers to cook for nothing as well?
It is also worth noting that the Hall has recently been listed as a recipient in the second round of Cultural Recovery Fund awards.
The original Facebook post was removed pronto and replaced by the sort of “we are sorry you misunderstood us” explanation that tends to only makes things worse.
As of this morning, you can still book tickets for the event. We have no idea whether or not there will be background music.