Couple lose jobs and home as National Trust shuts landmark

Married couple both lose their jobs and their home after National Trust shuts down their 18th century round house in Monmouthshire due to Covid restrictions – leaving it empty for first time in 118 years

  • Martin Kerrigan and Sara Szwer have lived in Kymin Round House for 17 years
  • Sara worked as historic site’s dedicated manager while Martin was a volunteer 
  • But due to coronavirus pandemic, National Trust will close landmark in January
  • It is believed this will be first time it has not been occupied in its 118 year history
  • Concerns have been raised about vandalism if round house is left unoccupied 

A married couple both lost their jobs and their home because the National Trust closed a stunning landmark round house.

Martin Kerrigan and Sara Szwer have lived and worked in the Kymin Round House, in Monmouth, for 17 years – and even married there.

But they have now been made redundant and told they must leave the treasured building in January.

The National Trust has closed the landmark ‘for the foreseeable future’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the trust says it is seeking a ‘sustainable’ management model moving forward.

The move means it could be the first time the site is without custodians for 118 years.

Married couple Martin Kerrigan and Sara Szwer have been asked to leave the historic Kymin Round House, in Monmouthshire, as the National Trust has closed the site due to coronavirus

The couple have lived at the site as its custodians for 17 years and even got married there

Dedicated manager Sara and volunteer deputy manager Martin live on the land that is owned by the National Trust.

The area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches over 10 acres and includes a Naval Temple built in 1800.

Martin, 49, said: ‘We are very sad about it. The concerns about having no one on site remain.

‘Sadly our redundancies have been confirmed and we have got to move out on January 19.’

The round house was built by members of the Kymin Club – a group of Monmouth’s gentlemen.

They met each week ‘for the purpose of dining together, and spending the day in a social and friendly manner’.

The temple was built to commemorate the anniversary of the British naval victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Martin said: ‘We are obliged to stay until that date as custodians so we cannot leave before.

‘As far as I know the plan is still to have no one on site.’

The landmarks have been closed ‘for the foreseeable future’ due to coronavirus restrictions.

The round house was built by members of the Kymin Club – a group of Monmouth’s gentlemen

Fears have been raised that the building could be subject to vandalism if it is left unoccupied

Both neo-classical monuments sit on the summit of a hill and were built between 1794 and 1800.

Fears have now been raised that it could fall victim to vandalism with no one living on the site.

Martin said: ‘Everything is up in the air at the moment.

‘We did have self-employed work as well but that has been stopped due to Covid so we are looking for new jobs and a house.’

The National Trust says it is committed to keeping the grounds open.

A National Trust spokeswoman said: ‘We have considered all of the feedback and suggestions received about the Kymin and we are discussing all aspects of the site management with the custodian and Monmouthshire team to find a future model that works and won’t leave the site vulnerable.

‘We are also working with local partners, authorities and volunteers to create this sustainable new model.

‘We are committed to keeping the pleasure grounds open, including the Naval Temple, and maintaining conservation standards at the special places we look after.

‘We look forward to welcoming visitors back when we’re able to do so.

‘The Kymin will continue to be in National Trust care and will continue to be protected for everyone, forever.’

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