In the United Kingdom there is a prestigious institution that has dedicated itself to safeguarding the nation’s rich heritage and natural treasures for over a century. The National Trust, established in 1895 as a non-profit organization, has evolved into a formidable force in heritage conservation, thanks to the National Trust Act of 1907 and subsequent parliamentary acts that have expanded its powers and remit. There are two National Trusts: the main one for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and one separate one for Scotland.
The National Trust and Its Vast Land Holdings
With nearly 250,000 hectares (620,000 acres) of land under its stewardship, the National Trust stands as the largest private landowner in the UK, predominantly comprising countryside landscapes. These extensive holdings encompass sprawling estates, often intertwined with historic country houses. The Trust’s mission is simple yet profound: to preserve the places people cherish, including homes, buildings, gardens, coastal areas, and countryside. They protect historical sites and green spaces, making them accessible to all, for all time. Their tireless efforts extend to supporting a diverse array of landscapes, wildlife, and nature across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The Benefits of National Trust Membership
Becoming a member of the National Trust can be done online and it offers a multitude of advantages, including:
- Free Entry to Over 500 Managed Sites: Explore a wide range of historical and natural sites without admission fees.
- Free Parking at Most National Trust Car Parks: Save on parking costs when visiting their properties.
- National Trust Handbook: Receive an informative guide detailing the organization’s managed locations.
- National Trust Magazine: Enjoy a quarterly magazine brimming with inspiration, interviews, and news.
- Access to the Members’ Area Online: Gain exclusive previews and behind-the-scenes content.
- Discounts and Special Rates at Historic Sites Worldwide: Save on tickets when visiting historic sites globally.
- Free Events: Participate in various free events held throughout the year at different locations.
- £15 National Trust Gift Card: Receive a £15 gift card to use in National Trust shops and cafes when you join with annual direct debit online.
- £5 E-Gift Card: Get a £5 e-gift card valid at various stores when signing up with annual direct debit.
Supporting the National Trust’s Mission
By joining the National Trust, you actively contribute to their mission of safeguarding historic places and green spaces, ensuring accessibility for all, for generations to come. Your support aids in the preservation and conservation of diverse landscapes, wildlife, and nature in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Notable National Trust Properties
The National Trust boasts an extensive collection of properties across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, encompassing historic homes, castles, gardens, and rural landscapes. Here are some of the most noteworthy National Trust properties, according to various sources:
- Attingham Park, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
- Cliveden House, Taplow, Buckinghamshire
- Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, Ripon, North Yorkshire
- Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
- Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
- Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent
- Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire
- Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland
- Petworth House and Park, Petworth, West Sussex
- Stourhead, Wiltshire
It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive, as there are many more significant National Trust properties waiting to be explored.
The Oldest National Trust Properties
The National Trust takes pride in its collection of historic buildings and homes in England and Wales, some dating back to medieval times. Here are some of the oldest National Trust properties in England and Wales, as per various sources:
- Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex – Built in the 14th century, it’s considered the Trust’s earliest property.
- Corfe Castle, Dorset – Dating back to the 11th century.
- Dunster Castle, Somerset – Constructed in the 11th century.
- Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland – Built in the 16th century.
- Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk – Dating to the 15th century.
- Powis Castle, Powys, Wales – Originating from the 13th century.
- Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire – Built in the 15th century.
- Warkworth Castle, Northumberland – Dating back to the 12th century.
Again, this list is not exhaustive, and there are numerous other historic National Trust properties awaiting exploration.
Unique and Unusual National Trust Properties
The National Trust’s collection includes a diverse array of properties in England and Wales, some of which are exceptionally unique and unusual. Here are a few of the most distinctive National Trust properties, according to various sources:
- The Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland – A natural wonder featuring 40,000 basalt columns formed by volcanic activity.
- Trelissick Water Tower, Cornwall – A 19th-century water tower converted into a holiday home with breathtaking views.
- Strand Lane “Roman Baths,” London – 17th-century water cisterns later converted into a spa, commonly mistaken as Roman Baths.
- Chert and Little Chert, Isle of Wight – Tiny cliffside cottages once used by smugglers.
- Dunster Castle and Gardens, Somerset – A medieval castle boasting a blend of architectural styles and beautiful gardens.
- Stourhead, Wiltshire – A landscaped garden featuring a lake, grotto, and classical temples.
- Knole, Sevenoaks, Kent – A historic house with a deer park and an impressive art and furniture collection.
- Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire – A Baroque mansion with a herd of deer and stunning gardens.
- Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland – An 18th-century house with a world-renowned garden.
In conclusion, the National Trust stands as a beacon of heritage preservation in the United Kingdom, with a vast and diverse portfolio of properties and natural wonders. As a member, you not only gain access to these treasures but also play a crucial role in ensuring their conservation for future generations to enjoy.