At the time of writing I have caught the first two episodes of ‘Sissinghurst’ on BBC 4. Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, the former residence of that arch bohemian Vita Sackville-West, is now firmly in the benign hands of the National Trust.

To disclose my cards early, the Trust is one of those organisations that is almost beyond criticism. The work they have undertaken over the last century or so, have given the people of Britain an opportunity to examine our complex social history at close quarters, and without its sterling efforts and vision, the nation would be much the poorer, much less British and much less intimately involved with its own immediate past. However, what this documentary is already exposing is the clash of this perceived past and the assumptions of the present.

This is hand to hand fighting at its best.

The National Trust have. to their credit, issued a number of documentaries over the years without too much oppressive editing on their part, just as our Royal family have acceded increasingly to the imposition of a film crew.

What sets this little series apart though, is the exposure of the battle lines so early. This is class war at its finest, the end of Empire squire-archy versus the modern urban oiks.

Normally with National Trust documentaries there is a hint of Radio 4’s ‘The Archers’ in play, but at Sissinghurst they are joined by both Mrs Beeton and the cast of Cluedo.

One of the skirmishes centres on the restaurant. All the ingredients (could not resist the pun) are in place already. The present occupants or tenant family are Adam Nicholson and his wife Sarah Raven. Adam, the son of the former owner and Sarah, a well known TV gardener and now lady of the manor – with some very firm ideas on life.

In the kitchen, fortified and castellated by his own freezer cabinets is Steve the chef, calcitrant and resistant to all suggested change. In the garden an apparition sporting a bohemian red beret, who feels the garden is her domain alone offering a very spirited defence of her slash and burn policy.

The fulcrum of this mêlée is food, once again the fashionable ammunition rather than the cause.

Adam wants the land returned to lifestyle farming and Sarah wants to swamp the restaurant with home grown root vegetables. Chef appears to ignore all suggestions and red beret wants to keep well out of it.

A number of very interesting issues have already surfaced. Should the Trust create grand allotments to supply and enliven their own somewhat petrified and outdated restaurants, should the surrounding land be dedicated to local sourcing at its most proximate and should we save the planet by pushing parsnips on a wheel barrow to the kitchens as opposed to flying couscous in from Morocco. Chef in turn has an extra part to play by assessing the social mores of the county of Kent and defining what it is the visiting membership wish to refuse or consume at lunch time.

With so many of the Trust’s houses being the result of former colonial influence and the various residents of the 17th and 18th centuries, almost unanimous in their expectations of the Grand Tour, this local sourcing argument is becoming a little two-faced for my liking. Whereas the view that Trust members are happiest sitting with something approaching Tom Brown’s school dinners, should surely be reviewed – the retrenched position that we all want a crumble or a drop-scone clearly needs wider examination. At the other extreme is Sarah’s idea that we should all be encouraged to blend our balsamic and white wine vinegar at the table, which is equally unnecessary and at best pretentious.

If ever there was a case for the warring parties to meet and examine the requirements of the customer this is it. Food is not about customer service or heritage delivery, anymore than it is about sustenance alone. Food is about attitude, by those that supply it and those who cook it, and if a little more honesty and authenticity were to surface through the class division the Trust’s members would be better served at Sissinghurst.

If I were to open the envelope set in the middle of that Waddington’s game, my guess would be the chef, with the lead piping in the library.