Emily Naper has lived many lives. The four schools of her childhood; studying art in Paris; her life in Ireland running a fire-ruined stately home. She ran away to both Australia and London, and lived with Isabella Blow in Cheyne Walk.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分And then there’s the Pembrokeshire chapter, at 11th-century Manorbier Castle. Naper now runs two stately homes, on two different islands; the commute between Manorbier, in Wales, and Loughcrew, in Ireland, is nine hours.
How she came to be lady of the manors is a complicated story. She was born Emily Dashwood in 1958, eldest daughter of the late Sir Francis Dashwood, 11th Baronet, and Victoria, Lady Dashwood. Manorbier was owned by Naper’s grandmother, and was a holiday destination for the Dashwood children, where they stayed in a curious chalet that sat within the castle walls; it is now rented out to holiday guests.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Sir Francis helped restore some life to the castle, and “brought his carpenter here,” she says. “He loved Manorbier.” The party was over when, after Naper had friends for the weekend, someone in the village complained about the noise because “one of my friends was dancing on the ramparts”.
Her grandmother closed the castle to teenagers, and leased it to Texaco, the service station company. Eight years ago, when Naper came to Manorbier, a castle with a curtain wall and crumbling steps, she had to start from scratch. There was no office, nor any electricity; she’s since cleaned up the gardens, preserving its history.
Naper was brought up in another stately home: West Wycombe Park, the Buckinghamshire pile built in 1740 for Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despencer, founder of the Hellfire Club. In 1943 it was given to the National Trust by Naper’s grandfather, Sir John Dashwood, 10th Baronet, and today is run by her brother Sir Edward Dashwood, 12th Baronet. The National Trust has the house and park, the family the furniture and land.
Naper has had an extraordinary life. “I was privileged to be brought up in a palace,” she says. “But you didn’t see your parents very often; our nannies brought us up.”
Still, Sir Francis was “amazing”, she says. “What a father. Even when my mum died he was educating us – he taught us to swim, play backgammon, bridge. He took four kids to Paris for the weekend, around the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We were very privileged, not because of the fabric but because of my father and my mother. I have great love for them.”
But the grandeur doesn’t suit everyone. “I always wanted to live in a tiny house like Hansel and Gretel. West Wycombe is a very big place, and you have the public there too, so it’s a public place. Look out of the window here and what do you see? People. I grew up like that, and I’ve done the same in Ireland.” Naper pauses for breath. “I’m 61 now, I need to know what a home is.”
She doesn’t blame her grandfather for giving West Wycombe to the National Trust. “After that he went to live in Spain, and the house in Spain was his home – he didn’t rent it out, he actually lived there. That’s what I want to do now.”
And she is pleased that her inheritance didn’t include West Wycombe, which her father regretted losing. “I’m glad I wasn’t born a boy because then I would have had West Wycombe as well. I admire what my brother does, but we’re different. I don’t envy him. West Wycombe is lucky – if I’d been at West Wycombe it wouldn’t be as successful.”
This is just one of the houses that various members of the family have owned over the years. Naper’s mother, who died in 1976, was born Victoria de Rutzen, the daughter of Major John de Rutzen, Baron de Rutzen, the owner of Slebech Park in Pembrokeshire. His wife Sheila Philipps was born at Picton Castle, the estate of which Manorbier was part. “Through this, my grandmother was a very wealthy landowner in Wales,” Naper explains.
When Lord de Rutzen was killed in action in 1944, Lady de Rutzen “sold Picton and Slebech, but she loved Manorbier and kept it”. On her death in 1999, half of her estate went to Naper. In 1981, she took on Loughcrew after marrying Charlie Naper, a scion of the Irish landowning family who once controlled 180,000 acres in Co Meath. Now, Naper divides her time between Wales and Ireland.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Manorbier is open all year round, with weddings as many weekends as they can manage, and with a café on site. In Ireland, at Loughcrew, which she restored following a fire, she opens the gardens and hosts weddings and retreats. The atmosphere in Ireland is different to that in Pembrokeshire. “Here I don’t even lock my door; in Ireland, it’s all cameras and electric gates.”
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分The list of work that needs doing continues at Manorbier – the roof needs doing next. “Whatever we [do] isn’t going to take over the beauty of the place, or the location,” she says. “It’s a manor house within a medieval castle. The staircases are narrow; if it got thousands more visitors, we couldn’t fit them in. There aren’t many places like this.”
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Looking after both houses is hard work. “I quite want to slow down,” she says. “People sometimes think that people like me can’t be hurt, but of course we can. We’re like flowers, we grow up wanting to be a strong tree but our branches sometimes break off. I’m only doing my best.”