Gathering wild words

Words shape our history and our story. They provide the tools that allow us to create the narratives that define us. Words are important because they give us the ability to capture the colour and nuance that connects us to the world that we inhabit.

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

And nowhere is this so important as the words that children learn as they grow up. That is why it really matters for the natural world that 50 words about nature and the countryside have disappeared from the Oxford Junior Dictionary back in 2012. Generations have grown up discovering these wonderful words helping to deepen our connection with the natural world.

The Oxford Junior Dictionary has replaced many words that we took for granted such as catkins, conkers, otters and kingfishers with cut and paste and broadband; even blackberry has become Blackberry.

How can you look after nature if you can’t name what you’re trying to save? This is why the Trust is getting behind the campaign by naturalist and writer Robert Macfarlane in his quest to collect as many words as possible that describe nature. His latest book, “Landmarks”, out earlier this year, began to catalogue the huge range of regional and very local words used to describe the diversity of nature – the land, the topography, species etc.

Writing in the autumn issue of the National Trust Magazine, Robert is asking Trust members and supporters for their own nature words to include in the paperback issue of Landmarks, out in spring 2016.

Robert Macfarlane, says, “If you have place- and nature-words of your own, please do send them to me and the National Trust. When Landmarks is published in paperback next year, I plan to include a new glossary, which collects and shares these new wild words.”

We’ve already had some great contributions from our members and supporters. If you have any words that you’d like to submit please send them, by the end of October, to


Looking for freelance communications support

We’re looking for a talented and dynamic communications professional to help provide some cover for an exciting energy and climate change role during the next six months.

The hydro project in Snowdonia generating electricity for the Trust

The hydro project in Snowdonia generating clean electricity for the Trust

The successful candidate will have excellent media relations skills, good awareness of the sector, be able to write top quality content and have strong experience of managing a  communications plan including corporate partner support. You can find out more information about our energy work via:

If you are interested please send in your CV and a short covering letter outlining your interest in the role and availability to Mike Collins ( by Friday 2 October (copies of the role profile are available on request). We are flexible in terms of location and the number of days worked per week. For an informal chat about the role please contact Mike on 07900 138419.

Pembrokeshire cottage restored to former glory

Treleddyd Fawr Cottage

Treleddyd Fawr Cottage St David’s

The National Trust is delighted to have completed the restoration of Treleddyd Fawr Cottage, a Grade II listed property near St David’s, and one of the last surviving examples of a traditional Pembrokeshire cottage.

Now it’s ready to open the door to guests as cosy holiday accommodation, a decision taken by the Trust to allow more visitors to experience this rare slice of Welsh history.

Nestled in the coastal countryside, the one-bedroom cottage and its outbuildings date back to the early 1800s and were bequeathed to the Trust by Mr Glyn Griffiths, with the wish to preserve their personality and charm for others to enjoy.

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Exhibition puts the spotlight on Gone with the Wind star Vivien Leigh

The life of one of Britain’s most celebrated actresses, Vivien Leigh, goes under the spotlight for a new exhibition at Treasurer’s House in York.

Letters, scrapbooks, photographs, film scripts and costume sketches from the personal collection of the Gone with the Wind star will be included, many of which have never been on public display before.

This is the first major display of objects from Vivien Leigh’s personal collection since her private archive of more than 10,000 items was acquired from her family in 2013 by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

Portrait of Vivien Leigh by Sasha, 1935 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Portrait of Vivien Leigh by Sasha, 1935 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The exhibition, organised by the V&A, is being staged in the historic setting of Treasurer’s House, the former home of early 20th century businessman Frank Green, a passionate advocate of the arts, especially theatre.

Vivien Leigh gained international fame with her role as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) for which she was the first British actress to win an Academy Award. She was equally famous for her marriage to actor Laurence Olivier and they were treated like theatre royalty wherever they went.

The exhibition Public Faces, Private Lives explores both her glamorous public image and her private home life with Olivier. A scrapbook of her press cuttings for Gone with the Wind, costume sketches by designer Cecil Beaton, scripts in which Leigh added her own handwritten notes, and letters from celebrities of the day are among the objects on display in the atmospheric rooms of Treasurer’s House.

Vivien Leigh’s scrapbook © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Theatre costumes worn by Vivien Leigh will take pride of place including a stunning red Christian Dior gown from Duel of Angels (1958) and the headdress from her role as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1937)

Clare Alton-Fletcher, exhibition manager at Treasurer’s House comments: “We’re delighted that fans of Vivien Leigh, film and theatre will be able to see the exhibition in this unique historic house setting in York. Frank Green, the former owner, often hosted actors and actresses at his home. Although Vivien Leigh never visited the house, earlier stars who did included Lillie Langtry and Ellen Terry who were two of her inspirations to become an actress.

“The architecture of the house really adds to the theatricality and atmosphere. For example, the Blue Drawing Room is a luscious setting with its glittering gold mirrors for ‘Becoming Scarlett’ – the section of the exhibition which looks at Vivien Leigh’s most famous role in Gone with the Wind. The double-height Great Hall meanwhile gives a sense of grandeur to the costume she wore as Cleopatra, aptly set on a small stage where visiting actors and actresses would perform plays when they came to stay at the house.”


Theatre costumes worn by Vivien Leigh on display in the Great Hall, photo credit National Trust

In Vivien Leigh’s private collection were a number of stereoscopic colour photographs which give a detailed insight into many aspects of her career and activities, including film, fashion, theatre and working with Olivier. Visitors will be able to see some of these in a 3D slide show which brings the actress vividly to life.

The V&A and the National Trust have a long history of loaning objects from their collections to each other but this will be the first time an exhibition organised by the V&A will be shown at a Trust property.

Keith Lodwick, V&A curator of the exhibition said: “Vivien Leigh has an enduring appeal and remains one of the great luminaries of stage and screen. The archive is a magnificent and intact record that provides a fascinating insight into her personal life and career. Although a small rotating selection of material has been on display at the V&A since we acquired the archive in 2013, we are delighted that so many of its highlights can now be seen.”

Vivien Leigh: Public Faces, Private Lives runs from 19 September – 20 December 2015.


A coastal walk will make you sleep longer and feel happier

  • UK coast walkers sleep an average of 47 minutes longer after a walk by the sea
  • Coastal walking boosts feelings of calm and happiness and provides walkers with a sense of escape
  • Coastal walks offer a distraction from the stresses of everyday life (63 per cent) and make people feel positive about their lives in general (55 per cent)
Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. The Belle Tout Lighthouse (not NT owned) is seen in the distance.

Family walking along the clifftop at Birling Gap, part of the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs range, East Sussex. Credit National Trust.

A walk by the coast will have you sleeping an extra 47 minutes on average as well as providing you with feelings of calm (83 per cent), happiness (82 per cent) and a sense of escapism (62 per cent), according to a national report out today.

Over two thirds (69 per cent) of Brits state they fall into a deeper sleep after being by the coast with one in three (36 per cent) also saying that the thought alone of the sea helps them sleep at night.

The research has been carried out as part of the National Trust’s Great British Walk campaign, run in partnership with Cotswold Outdoor, to look at how walking on the coast really impacts on our wellbeing and to encourage people to explore our UK coastline, of which 775 miles is cared for by the conservation charity.

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Trust welcomes record numbers of visitors

We welcomed record numbers of visitors to our houses and gardens last year (21m), up 4% on the previous year. An estimated 200m visits were also made to our countryside and coast locations. Interest remains as high as ever.

Our latest membership scores also show satisfaction is at an all-time high. And our membership has grown to over 4.2m members.

The overall proportion of visitors rating their experience of the Trust as either ‘enjoyable’ or ‘very enjoyable is 96%. This reflects very high levels of satisfaction and is broadly in line with previous years.

The picture is very positive and we’re proud more people than ever before are visiting our special places and supporting our charity.

But we recognise there is always room for improvement. We’re not complacent and as we outlined in our 10-year strategy earlier this year we know we need to do even more to engage with people and make our places relevant and inspiring to them.

The proportion of people rating their experience as ‘very enjoyable’ has fallen slightly to 60%, which is below the stretching target we set ourselves.

We believe there are a number of reasons for the fall.  We have developed a new system whereby members can provide feedback online . This has nearly doubled the number of visitor surveys we collect (some 170,000) so we now have a much more accurate picture than we have ever had before and know where we need to improve.

At peak times properties can get busy and this can have an impact on attaining the very highest enjoyment scores.

People’s tastes are changing and their expectations continue to grow. We’ll work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause. We will invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why they matter.

We’re not standing still. Many properties are already finding new and imaginative ways to refresh their offer, and where we get it right the results have been spectacular both in terms of visitor numbers and enjoyment scores.

Our recreation of a First World War hospital at Dunham Massey made it to the final of this year’s Museum of the Year; our Mr.Turner exhibition at Petworth was a huge hit, and Fan Bay tunnels in Dover have consistently sold out of tickets every day since it opened earlier this year.

And we’re continuing to challenge perceptions and stir up debate, most recently on brutalist architecture.

Making waves around the UK coastline

The coastline around the UK is a very special one. Its full of amazing places that capture our imagination and its a place that many of us spend alot of time daydreaming about.

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Fruit machines on piers and seafronts are just one of the vibrant sounds that you an hear on the coastline. Credit: Tim Stubbings

This summer the National Trust in collaboration with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland has been asking people to record the sounds of the coast.  The ‘sounds of our shores’ project is all about capturing sonic postcards from the whole coastline.

Hundreds of people have taken part; recording sounds from remote stretches of coastline where the waves and seabirds are the only sound for miles around, or submittng sound from a classic seaside town or busy seaport.

With only ten days left to add your sounds there is still plenty of time to help populate the sound map, hosted on the British Library website, with more sonic treasures from our coastline. Musician and producer Martyn Ware (Human League and Heaven 17) will be using the sounds submitted as an inspiration to create a new piece of music, out in February 2016.

We’ve identified some of the gaps on the map (see below) and would love people heading to the coast in the next few weeks and weekends or those lucky enought to be living by the sea to help build up a really comprehensive soundscape of the UK coastline.

Martyn Ware on Brighton   beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Martyn Ware on Brighton beach recording sounds for the sounds of our shores project. Credit: Tim Stubbings

Its easy to record the sounds via a free audioboom app or via your laptop. Sounds can be up to 5 minutes long and you can use video to submit sounds (audioBoom does a really clever thing, stripping the sound off of the film).

The areas that we’d love to get more sounds from include:

  • South Devon
  • St Austell to Falmouth
  • Padstow to Bideford
  • Minehead to Weston super Mare
  • Cardiff
  • The Pembrokeshire coastline
  • Cardigan to Aberystwyth
  • North West Wales
  • Merseyside
  • The Cumbrian coast
  • South West Scotland
  • North West Scotland
  • Orkney
  • The coast between Inverness and Dundee
  • Sunderland to north Yorkshire
  • The Wash
  • The Kent coastline
  • West Sussex
  • Portsmouth
  • The East coast of Northumberland

If you’d like to add your coastal sounds they need to be submitted by the 21 September via the audioBoom sounds of our shores channel