The National Trust is a charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1895 to protect heritage and open spaces. The Trust owns over 350 houses, gardens and monuments, but it doesn’t stop there! They also own forests, nature reserves, villages and even 35 pubs! Being a charity it relies on memberships, entry fees, donations and volunteers to continue it’s work.
A Brief History
Here is a brief timeline of the National Trust:
1884 – Octavia Hill comes up with the idea of the National Trust when she was asked to help preserve Sayes Court Garden.
1895 – The Trust is founded by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley on the 12th January. Just a few weeks later the Trust was given five acres of cliff top at Dinas Oleu.
1896 – The Trust bought its first building for £10 – Alfriston Clergy House
1899 – The first nature reserve is purchased – two acres of Wicken Fen
1902 – A national campaign was launched by the Trust to raise funds for buying Brandelhow.
1907 – The National Trust Act was drafted by Sir Robert Hunter. The Act was to give the National Trust the status of statutory organisation.
1925 – The peak of sympathetic press stories is reached.
1929 – Beatrix Potter shows her support for the Trust. Money from her children’s books go to support the Trust’s work in the Lake District.
1934 – The first village comes under National Trust protection – West Wycombe.
1937 – New powers are granted in the National Trust Act 1937. The Trust can now accept gifts of country houses with endowments of land or capital tax free.
1945 – The Trust celebrates its 50th Birthday. At this point they own 112,000 acres of land, 93 historic buildings and have 7,850 members.
1946 – The National Land Fund is set up. With this fund a number of great country houses are transferred to the Trust.
1967 – The Trust’s first ‘Acorn Camps’ are run (now called ‘Working Holidays For Young People’).
1975 – A milestone! 500,000 members!
1981 – Now 1 million members!
1986 – Sutton House is saved from becoming flats. Instead it was dedicated for cultural and educational uses.
1990 – 2 million members!
1995 – The National Trust reaches the grand age of 100 years old! The Trust owns and protects 580,000 acres of countryside, 545 miles of coastline, 230 historic houses and 130 gardens. It’s come a long way in 100 years!
2000 – The Trust starts a structural review to allow them to work more efficiently and work better with other conservation bodies.
2001 – The Trust launches a Farming First initiative (at the time of the Foot and Mouth crisis in the UK). This initiative reaffirms the Trusts’ dedication to preserving natural beauty and viable economy in rural areas.
2008 – A volunteer milestone is reached! The number of people volunteering reaches over 50,000!
Joining The National Trust
If you’re planning on travelling around the UK, or seeing a few of the Trust’s properties, it really might be worth looking into a membership. You can buy single, couple or family membership. Although you do have to be living in the UK, but there are options for joining from abroad. There are some great benefits, which don’t just cover England, Wales and Northern Ireland!
Benefits Of Joining
Joining the National Trust gives you:
- Free, Unlimited Entry to over 500 places;
- Free Car Parking at most National Trust car parks;
- Handbook which is full of ideas and goes through all the Trust’s areas and buildings. A great help when planning a trip!
- Magazine three times a year
- Regular Email Newsletters to keep you up to date
Not only will you get the above from the Trust. You will also be helping a Great Cause, helping the charity to carry on it’s amazing work. Your membership money will help important reconstruction and conservation work.
Also, with so many outdoor areas included, a membership could be your ticket to a more Active Lifestyle! From tackling hikes to trying surfing or even just climbing a tree, there’s lots to try!
A National Trust Membership doesn’t just give you free access to amazing places in England, Wales and Northern Island. You can also visit certain heritage places that are owned by similar organisations across the world! These are:
- The National Trust For Scotland
- National Trust Australia
- The Bermuda National Trust
- Bahamas National Trust
- The National Trust For Canada
- The Barbados National Trust
- The National Trust Of Guernsey
- National Trust For The Cayman Islands
- The National Trust For Jersey
- Italian Environment Fund (Fondo Ambiente Italiano)
- Manx National Heritage (Isle of Man)
- National Trust Of Malta
- National Trust Of Zimbabwe
- Heritage New Zealand
Please check with each organisation before trying to use your card
With each of these organisations you can take working holidays (dependent on what is available). You could be helping with building restoration or cleaning beaches among much more! Beautiful locations, great people and knowing that you’re helping a worthy cause! Why not?
Not From England, Wales Or Northern Ireland?
Don’t worry, there are still options for you to see plenty of National Trust sites without breaking the bank!
Joining From The USA
From the USA you can join using the National Trust’s affiliate, Royal Oak Foundation. Joining via the Royal Oak Foundation means that you also receive Royal Oak newsletters as well as the Trust’s.
If you’re not from the USA you can buy a Touring Pass (which is also great if you don’t have a lot of time in the UK). The Touring Pass allows you into the majority (unfortunately not all and I don’t know why) of the Trust’s properties. You can buy passes for 7 or 14 days for one or two people or a family. You also receive a ‘Great Ideas Guide’ and a ‘Map Guide’ to help you plan your visit!
If you’re planning a trip to the UK and plan to visit a lot of the Trust’s sites, either joining (if you can) of buying a Touring Pass might be worth considering. The charge for visiting properties (and carpark fees) can soon add up, so you can make some great savings! You will also have the knowledge that your money will be well spent on conservation projects and vital building repairs!
Why not look for yourself? Check out the National Trust here!