Saving Grace; 1)? at Risk: Hampton Court Palace Is on the World Monument Funds List of the 100 Most Endangered Historic Sites 2) Saved WMF Helped Secure the Future of Hawksmooor's St George's Bloomsbury

Article excerpt

Byline: Philippa Stockley

THE World Monuments Fund is one of Britain's best-kept secrets an entirely privately funded body that saves spectacular buildings for us to enjoy. You could describe it as your local branch of the world's largest architectural charity.

Its mission is simple: to save buildings and sites of international importance for future generations to enjoy, year in, year out.

Without government assistance, the WMF spends around ?8 million a year.

Every two years, it publishes the World Monuments Watch a list of the 100 most endangered buildings and sites that need urgent help.

In London, it helped secure the future of Horace Walpole's wonderful Gothic villa, Strawberry Hill, and Nicholas Hawksmoor's St George's Bloomsbury church. Major sites, including Hampton Court Palace and St Paul's Cathedral, are also on its list.

And WMF crusading doesn't stop at Dover. Its reach includes the British Governor's residence in Hyderabad, India, and repairing the stunning, sensual figurative lead sculptures by John Cheere that adorn the gardens of Queluz Palace, Portugal two of which go on show from Friday at Tate Britain.

The next major priority is to secure the future of Stowe in Buckinghamshire, a ' WMF helped wonderful public school with tremendously beautiful features, such as the (now crumbling) plaster ceiling in the library. Once restored, Stowe will let the public in for 200 days of the year.

Get involved

But the WMF can only keep going with public support and Homes & Property has arranged a bargain 30 per cent discount for readers to become members for one year. You can easily "get your money back" as the membership includes two-for-one entry to an array of amazing places, such as Hampton Court,

Chatsworth, Castle Howard, Leeds Castle, Blenheim Palace, St Paul's Cathedral and Woburn.

There are also two lecture series a year, with speakers including Tony Robinson, Jung Chang, Stephen Bayley, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Julian Richards, John Julius Norwich and Tracy Chevalier, and members receive a discount to these. …