In reflection of the owner’s personal circumstances, Brantwood, the home of Victorian critic John Ruskin (1819–1900), underwent radical and almost continuous development during the twenty-eight years in which he lived there. The equally complex history of Ruskin’s legacy as a public figure has been reflected in changes to the house following his death and continuing to this day. A common feature to all these alterations is the way in which Ruskin’s own, often trenchant, ideas have exercised a shaping influence. Even in periods when Ruskin’s public reputation was at its nadir, apparently-inconsiderate treatments of the building have reflected a commitment to promote Ruskin’s legacy. As interest in Ruskin has rekindled, a substantial restoration of original fabric and contents has taken place. However, this process is not without challenge from Ruskin’s own views on the subject. This paper explores the hierarchy of decision-making that has been enacted to balance the respect due to original historical material with the demands of visitor engagement and the wider challenge of promoting Ruskin’s ideas.
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