ARUNDELLS, the home of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath in Salisbury, has reopened to the public with a busy season in prospect.

The house will, for the first time, stage two exhibitions and includes a new exhibition space.

In July it will be 50 years since Sir Edward became the first leader of the Conservative Party not to have been educated at a public school.

The exhibition, Ready, Steady, Go: Images of Britain in 1965, will set this event in the wider context of social change and the move to a less class-conscious Britain with the house featuring in a special BBC programme to mark the anniversary.

Another exhibition, Heath the Soldier, will run from April until June exploring his military record and his experiences of war which were fundamental to forming his political views.

Arundells ended the 2014 season as Salisbury's third ranked visitor attraction on Trip Advisor - after the Cathedral and the close - and bookings for 2015 are already up 250 per cent on last year.

Wilf Weeks, chairman of the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation, said: "Eighteen months ago it seemed that we might have to close the house.

"Last year we stabilised our finances and obtained planning permission to keep the house open permanently.

"Whilst keeping Arundells largely as it was when Sir Edward lived here, this year we are moving to a new stage and are aiming more fully to realise the potential of the house by opening a new exhibition space, staging two exhibitions, inaugurating an annual lecture series and beginning to develop our work with schools."

The 18th century house, part of which dates back to the 13th century, and its two acre walled garden is the only residence of a British Prime Minister which remains largely as it was when he was alive.

The house is located in the Salisbury Cathedral Close at the confluence between the Rivers Avon and Nadder.

It displays all of his achievements as a world class yachtsman as Sir Edward remains the only British Prime Minister to have won an international sporting trophy, the Admiral's Cup.

Other priceless items include a desk previously owned by Lloyd George, a pair of eighteenth century Qianlong vases from the Qing dynasty presented by Chairman Mao

Paintings and drawings by L.S. Lowry, John Singer Sargent and John Nash.

An array of signed photographs of world leaders are also on display and personal gifts from political contemporaries ranging from former US President Richard Nixon to Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Arundells is open for guided tours Saturday to Wednesday until November 4 and booking is recommended.

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