Sir Edward Heath is perhaps one of Salisbury’s most famous former residents.
He was born in Broadstairs, Kent and went on to lead Britain as Prime Minster from 1970 to 1974. His tenureship as PM came during a time of industrial upheaval and economic decline and in 1973 he led Britain into the European Community.
After resigning as Prime Minister in 1974, and then later stepping down as leader of the Conservative party, Sir Edward remained in politics, representing the constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup until 2001, when he retired as the longest-serving MP.
Sir Edward had cemented his bond with Salisbury long before his time in politics came to an end though.
He once said that he had fallen instantly in love with the city in 1938, when he first visited Salisbury with the Oxford University Balliol Players to perform a production he had written.
Sir Edward was known for his parties and gatherings, many of which were held to raise money for local charities.
He was often part of the congregation at the Cathedral’s Sunday morning service, and conducted a number of concerts to raise money for their Spire Appeal.
Mr Heath’s love of Salisbury was made clear in an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine in 1989. He said: “I like to walk around the town during the day,” he told the Times Magazine, adding: “There is a great deal of music and repertory theatre and good pubs to visit.
“Sometimes visitors to the city stare at me, but the people of Salisbury have got used to my presence.
“It is extraordinarily quiet and peaceful; you wouldn’t think you were in a town, let alone a city.
“It has Britain’s best cathedral, giving one a sense of community.”
It was that love for Arundells, and Salisbury, that led Sir Edward to bequeathed the property to the Charitable Foundation set up in his name following his death in 2005. He wanted as many people as possible to “share the beauty of Arundells”.
Three years after his death, in 2008, the house was opened to the public although it’s future was in doubt by 2010 when trustees applied to the Charity Commission for permission to sell the site. They said they could not afford to keep it open as a tourist attraction but the Charity Commission ruled against the application, securing the house as a public attraction.
Today, the Grade II listed property is still furnished much as Sir Edward Heath had it. Among the items on display are gifts to him from other world leaders, including Fidel Castro, Sir Winston Churchill, Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon.
His art collection includes works by Sir Winston Churchill, WL Wyllie, LS Lowry, John Singer-Sargent, John Nash, John Piper, Walter Sickert and both Augustus and Gwen John. And, his writing desk (in his study) was previously owned by another Prime Minister: David Lloyd George.
Arundells has become a popular tourist attraction with thousands visiting the property each year not just for the house and history but also the beautiful gardens. Find more information about the house here.