If you travel to the United Kingdom and tour a historic house, park or garden, there is a good chance that attraction is part of the National Trust. To preserve and protect history and heritage, the United Kingdom has a charity called National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, more widely known as the National Trust.
You can learn a lot about history by visiting a country home, especially one that has been preserved from a specific point in time. Besides what you can learn from the basic layout and architecture, these homes usually include furniture, art and books. And you can learn about the history of the family that once lived there, possibly for many generations. This experience gives you a well-rounded knowledge about this one house, family and area.
Here’s some information (and photos) about the group that allows so many tourists, families and schoolchildren to enjoy those experiences.
- This charity was founded in 1895 to preserve the nation’s heritage and open spaces.
- The National Trust is a registered charity and not part of the government.
- Their motto is “for ever, for everyone”.
- Anyone can become a member of the National Trust as long as they pay the membership fees.
- The National Trust includes England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has their own National Trust of Scotland, although there are reciprocal benefits.
- Members receive free entry to all properties.
- Private land and houses that have been donated or bequeathed to the National Trust can never be sold. Well, except by an Act of Parliament. So never say “never”.
- There are more than 4.5 million members.
- How do they take care of all these properties and visitors? Besides a staff of almost 6,000, approximately 60,000 volunteers donate more than three million hours of time each year.
- According to the National Trust website, they “look after coastline, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, historic houses, gardens, mills and pubs.” Yes, you can do your part to support the National Trust by buying a pint.
- Funds for preservation efforts derive from membership fees, entrance fees, donations, legacies and income from gift shops and restaurants.
- Their most visited site is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
- They are one of the largest private landowners in the United Kingdom.
- The childhood homes of both Paul McCartney and John Lennon are National Trust properties.
- Many of their country houses and gardens were acquired during the middle of the twentieth century when private owners were no longer able to afford to maintain these large properties or to pay the death duties.
- English writer Beatrix Potter was a supporter and donor.
- Their Facebook page and Twitter feed, @nationaltrust, include great photos, but also notifications of specials and events. And recipes, yum.
You want history and heritage? Tour a National Trust site. It’s one of the easiest ways to learn some history.