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THE AGENDA The Hedgehog


Our socially distanced sniff er spies a stately stampede, a portrait of a king and an unexpected A-lister. Edited by Alec Marsh


The castle, which was able to open its gardens to the public in March, is planning to off er Bridgerton-themed teas as well as more interpretative displays about the relationship between a great house and its estate village – where the series was also fi lmed. All the money from visitors goes into conservation, says Howard: ‘It’s incredibly important. We have a huge conservation defi cit at Castle Howard and lost a lot of revenue in the last year. Hopefully the success of Bridgerton will help make up a bit of that.’


Bridgerton surge


With more than 82 million people from 83 countries having watched stars Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page romping across its corridors, stairwells, lawns and herbaceous enclosures, Castle Howard is bracing itself for a second Bridgerton surge, I hear. The John Vanbrugh-designed country house in North Yorkshire has received a spike of inquiries since the racy Regency romance started streaming on Netfl ix at Christmas, a Castle Howard spokeswoman confi rms: ‘We’re hoping that when the world opens up and people are able to travel a little further in June that they will want to come and see Castle Howard in all its glory.’ Chatelaine Victoria Howard, who lives at Castle Howard with her husband,


Nicholas, says the family is delighted by the success of the show. ‘It was a little bit of a surprise,’ adds Howard, executive chairman of the castle and estate. ‘We know that Netfl ix can produce very good stuff – so we were hoping it would be very good – but obviously it seemed to capture the public’s imagination.’ Having worked at HarperCollins, which published the Julia Quinn novels the series is based on in the US, Howard knew what to expect. ‘The scenes didn’t come as any surprise,’ she tells me. ‘It’s good, tasteful sauciness.’ And Howard is cautiously optimistic that the show will lead to an increase in visitor numbers. ‘We are hoping to make the most of it,’ she says. ‘It’s obviously great exposure. We will be encouraging the fans to come and see where it was fi lmed.’


WHAT PRICE FAILURE? Once hailed as ‘the British Obama’, ex-MP Chuka Umunna has followed ex-chancellors George Osborne and Sajid Javid into the gilded corridors of JP Morgan. The former Labour leadership contender- turned Independent Group for Change MP-turned Liberal Democrat-turned Edelman executive director (oh, do keep up) is now leading the bank’s ESG work across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Let’s hope he fi nds as much satisfaction in this new corporate life as Sir Nicholas Clegg does in his as Facebook’s vice president for global aff airs and communications.


Miniature fortune?


The art world was agog in January when St James’s art super sleuth Philip Mould revealed the discovery of a previously unknown miniature portrait of the cross-dressing French king Henry III, a contemporary of Elizabeth I, signed by the noted court painter Jean Decourt. Mould spotted the work when it


‘came up in a country auction,’ where it was thought to be an unimportant portrait of Walter Raleigh. Accordingly,


LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX


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