Good girth! Hughenden horse-chestnut breaks UK record to kick off National Tree Week

A 300 year old horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum) on the National Trust’s Hughenden estate in Buckinghamshire has been declared the largest horse-chestnut in the country. Continue reading

Frogs eager to breed in Cornwall

National Trust Area Ranger for the Lizard, Rachel Holder, looks at why frogs appear to be so eager to breed in Cornwall following the discovery of frogspawn in November.

The common frog Rana temporaria is a familiar sight across the UK. In any shallow standing water you are likely to come across tell-tale clumps of spawn, and tadpoles and froglets vying for survival, not above eating their siblings if needs must!

But just when can you expect to find frogspawn and tadpoles in your local pond? The simple answer might be spring for spawn and summer for tadpoles, but delve deeper and this doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.

Here on the Lizard, in the far south-west of the UK, our mild climate gives lots of species a head start, but our frogs have taken this further than most! This year I first saw frog spawn on 21st November, which is early, but not unheard of in a Cornish context.

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Frogspawn found on the Lizard by National Trust Ranger, Rachel Holder. Credit National Trust images, Rachel Holder.

The gamble of getting ahead in the breeding game must be worth taking, and the risk of a severe cold-snap which could freeze the spawn worth braving.

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New royal recruit marks one year anniversary for ground-breaking carbon cutting network

A royal recruit has marked the successful one-year anniversary for an innovative carbon cutting network that brings together some of Britain’s biggest landowners.

The Fit for the Future Network, which was launched by the National Trust and the sustainable energy charity Ashden in November 2013, now has an international membership of 85 land-owning, charitable and sustainability organisations.

Snowdon hydro at National Trust Hafod y Llan farm (credit National Trust_John Millar)

The network provides a model of change – where leading organisations can share and learn practical tools and techniques to help achieve their own cleaner energy targets and together contribute to the UK’s climate change targets (80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050).

The latest organisation to sign up to the not-for-profit network is the Royal Household, which operates at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Kensington Palace, Windsor Castle, The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Queen’s Galleries.

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Chairman Simon Jenkins’ farewell speech at the Trust’s AGM

WELCOME to Swindon. This has been a good six years in the history of the Trust. We are in excellent shape, the money sound and the membership rising.

You know the figures: membership through 4m, visits to properties through 20m and visits to our wider estate approaching 200m. Our operating surplus has risen by a third, enabling us to spend record sums on conservation, our prime responsibility.

Acquisitions have slowed, but we have taken on Vanbrugh’s mighty Seaton Delaval, Tredegar and Dyffryn in south Wales, Lord Nuffield’s eccentric lodge outside Henley, Arts and Crafts at Stoneywell and the delightful Asalache house (575 Wandsworth Road). We have acquired the last white cliff of Dover and the exquisite Llyn Dinas under Snowdon.

As chairman I can do nothing alone. I want to pay a tribute to my board who have been committed and loyal throughout what have been years of change. I want to pay particular thanks to my deputy Charles Gurassa, who must have broken all records for length of service. And to our new Director General Helen Ghosh who will address you shortly. I also want to thank the staff. We have the best staff in the charity sector.

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The National Trust’s position on party politics

The National Trust is a non-political, independent charity which exists to look after some of the country’s most treasured countryside for the benefit of the nation. It does not take a party political position on planning or any other issue.

Click here to read our latest views on the current planning system.

Landscape that inspired Thomas Hardy acquired by the National Trust

More than 200 acres of the sort of wild and windswept heathland that inspired Dorset’s most famous writer, Thomas Hardy, has been acquired by the National Trust. Slepe Heath in Dorset is the largest area of lowland heath that the Trust has acquired for more than a decade.

The magical Slepe Heath in Dorset. A landscape that inspired Dorset's most famous writer, Thomas Hardy. Credit: National Trust/Will Wilkinson.

The magical Slepe Heath in Dorset. A landscape that inspired Dorset’s most famous writer, Thomas Hardy. Credit: National Trust/Will Wilkinson.

As part of a conservation vision inspired by the landscapes featured in the novels of Thomas Hardy, Slepe Heath will connect the protected lowland heath of Hartland Moor, already looked after by the National Trust and Natural England, and the Arne reserve, owned by the RSPB.

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Trust statement on reciprocal agreements

“We are aware of a very small number of cases which involve people in the UK joining an overseas conservation organisation, with which we have reciprocal visiting rights, in order to access Trust sites at a lower cost.  As a conservation charity, we rely heavily on the money we receive from our memberships and visitors to look after the beautiful properties, gardens, coastline and countryside in our care for the nation to enjoy. 

“It’s therefore deeply disappointing that some people choose to take advantage of this arrangement and effectively opt to pay no donation directly to the charity which looks after the places they enjoy visiting. The more people that do this, the less money we will have to look after these special places. 

“Reciprocal visiting arrangements were set up to ensure people who supported conservation and heritage charities in their own countries could enjoy similar places abroad for free. They provide a way we can increase the value our members get from joining the National Trust, and many enjoy using their cards in countries like New Zealand, Canada and Scotland. Currently, the benefits we gain and the supporters we attract through our reciprocal visiting arrangements far outweigh any lost revenue from the very small number of people who do decide to join overseas. 

“We believe our membership offers great value for money – a family membership costs less than £8.20 a month and provides unlimited access to hundreds of locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Our members also enjoy a number of benefits that are not available to those joining from other countries, including free parking at nearly all our places, our Members’ Handbook and our magazine.  Also, over the coming 12 months they will experience further benefits with the introduction of a new supporter loyalty programme.”

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