THE man who served as Edward Heath's political secretary in the 1970s officially re-opened Arundells on Saturday after a long and hard-fought campaign to keep the former prime minister's home in Salisbury's Cathedral Close open to the public.
Douglas Hurd was Sir Edward's political secretary before becoming home secretary and foreign secretary.
In his first return to Arundells since Sir Edward died, Lord Hurd toured the house and admired the newly opened upstairs rooms, which are accessible to the public for the first time.
“I came here many times over the years to see Ted,” he recalled. “It is very rare to see a house that has been left exactly as its owner intended it to be. Things have not been moved around - the art, furniture and ornaments are still where he wanted them to be.
“I think it's very important that it remains open for the public to be able to appreciate this wonderful house.
“Ted was a good man; he could bark but he would not bite. And once he had finished barking he was someone you could sit down and do business with.”
Spiralling debts, low visitor numbers, disagreements between trustees and objections from Cathedral Close residents had cast doubts about the viability of keeping the house open to the public.
But pressure group The Friends of Arundells fought to keep the house accessible to visitors and, with backing from millionaire businessman Peter Mr Batey, it was given planning permission to remain open last autum and re-opened in March.
And, thanks to the financial support of Mr Batey, who also worked with Sir Edward, funds are in place to keep Arundells open while a long-term fundraising campaign gets under way.
“I know there has been as series of ups and downs,” said Lord Hurd. “A lot of hard work has gone into it and now it is time to move forward.”