We are a charity and completely independent of Government. We rely for income on membership fees, donations and legacies, and revenue raised from our commercial operations.
We have over 4.5 million members and 60,000 volunteers. More than 20 million people visit our pay for entry properties every year, while an estimated 75 million visit our open air properties.
But it doesn’t stop there. We also look after forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves, villages – for ever, for everyone. Find out more about the National Trust here.
President: HRH Prince Charles
Director-General : Dame Helen Ghosh
Chairman : Tim Parker
Deputy Chairman: Orna NiChionna
The National Trust
• Is a registered charity
• Is independent of Government
• Was founded in 1895 to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty permanently for the nation to enjoy
• Relies on the generosity of its supporters, through membership subscriptions, gifts, legacies and the contribution of many thousands of volunteers
• Now protects and opens to the public over 350 historic houses and gardens
• Owns more than 250,000 hectares of the most beautiful countryside and over 775 miles of outstanding coast for people to enjoy
• Looks after forests, woods, fens, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages – for ever, for everyone
• Has the unique statutory power to declare land inalienable – such land cannot be voluntarily sold, mortgaged or compulsorily purchased against the Trust’s wishes without special parliamentary procedure. This special power means that protection by the Trust is forever
• Spends all its income on the care and maintenance of the land and buildings in its protection, but cannot meet the cost of all its obligations – four in every five of its historic houses run at a loss – and is always in need of financial support
Facts about the National Trust which you may find surprising.
Despite its name, the National Trust is neither a Government Department nor a Bank, but an independent charity which relies completely on the continued generosity of its supporters
Although we’re able to employ 6,000 full-time, regular staff, and about the same number again of seasonal staff, these numbers are dwarfed by the 60,000 volunteers who generously contribute 4 million hours of their time.
- Gravity was discovered on our land
Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, is believed to be the very one that inspired him in 1665, when the ‘notion of gravitation came to mind’ after he watched an apple fall. The tree, a rare variety Flower of Kent, fell down in 1820, but is still growing well, having rooted where the trunk touched the ground…
- We love a wet day
Over 43 per cent of rainwater in England and Wales drains through National Trust places and spaces.
- We love a cuppa
Each year, we serve over 3.5 million cups of tea. That’s quite a lot of tea.
- We’re film and TV stars
From Downton, Wolf Hall and Poldark to Maleficent, Into the Woods and Cinderella, the historic houses and stunning landscapes we look after have provided backdrops to some unforgettable moments on the small and silver screen. Discover our latest locations news here.
- One of our wardens lives in a cave
One of our wardens lives in a cave dwelling (Rock House at Kinver, South Staffs). The warden lives in one of the houses built into rock and we open the others to the public.
- We’re one big farming family
We’re the nation’s largest farmer, with more than 618,000 acres of land and about 2,000 tenants.
- We like to tread the boards
We look after an important and historical theatre – the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
- We like a bit of table dancing
The dining table at Uppark in West Sussex is where Nelson’s future lover, the beautiful Emma Hamilton, is said once to have danced naked by way of an hors d’oeuvre during her tenure as Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh’s fiesty mistress.
- The drinks are on us
We own and run 61 pubs and inns, including the George Inn in Southwark, featured in Dickens’ Little Dorrit.
- We’ve got the whole world in our hands
Four World Heritage Sites exist on our land by the coast. They are the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast, Dorset and East Devon Coast, Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscapes and Hadrian’s Wall.
- Flooding is a big issue for us
126 of our coastal sites are at risk from tidal flooding and 606km (60 per cent) of our coastline is at risk of erosion.
- We own the UK’s oldest nature reserve
We own Britain’s oldest nature reserve, Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, acquired in 1899. More recently, Orford Ness reserve was the site of Britain’s nuclear weapon testing programme in the 1950s.
- We protect all kinds of wildlife
Some 45 volunteer toad patrollers help save toads on the North Yorkshire Moors.
- Our first house was…
Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex, a dilapidated medieval meeting house, acquired in 1896.
- Showing you round our houses
We have 12,000 volunteer room stewards, almost 100 of whom have given more than 50 years service.
- We offer lots of unusual jobs
We have 120 volunteer firefighters, 15 volunteer pilots, two beekeepers and one shepherd.
- We depend on your donations
Almost £45 million was gifted to the Trust in legacies alone during 2011/12, plus over £12 million from appeals and gifts.
- We’re pretty BIG!
We are the largest voluntary conservation organisation in Europe (recruiting more than one member every minute during the summer months). The only organisation in the UK to have a larger membership is the AA.
- Tapestry tales
A 1m sq of tapestry costs £4,333 to conserve, whereas it costs approximately £26,500 per m sq to weave a new tapestry (according to trials carried out by West Dean College).
- Plants rule
We have 32 Plant Heritage National Plant Collections – making us the largest single collection holder in the UK.
- We beat Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats
With over 4.5 million members, we are proud to have about six times more members than all the main political parties put together.
- Stourhead inspired Thunderbirds
Stourhead house was the inspiration for Lady Penelope’s residence in the original Thunderbirds puppet series in the 1960s.
- We love museums
We look after one in 10 of all the museums in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- We own the place radio was invented at
The Marconi Centre in Podhu, Cornwall, received the world’s first transatlantic radio transmission in 1901 – an experimental SOS was sent by Marconi himself from Newfoundland to the lonely site on the Cornish coast.
- We helped the Large Blue flourish
We successfully helped re-introduce the beautiful large blue butterfly to England after it was declared extinct in the UK in 1979.
- We have 60,000 volunteers
We have 60,000 volunteers contributing 4 million hours of their time.
- Bats love our houses
All 17 species of UK bat have been recorded as roosting or breeding in our places, making us the single most important landowner for bat conservation.
- Butterflies also love us
With 96 per cent of all resident species of UK butterfly occurring on our land we have a huge responsibility for their conservation.
- Village people
We own 59 villages, such as Buttermere in Cumbria and Lacock in Wiltshire.
- We give wigs their own space
We have four closets for wig powdering. Wigs needed dedicated powdering rooms to limit the mess.
- Sense & Sensibility
Our places were the setting for many scenes in the 1995 film version Sense and Sensibility, featuring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant. Compton Castle in Devon was used as the exterior of Mr. Willoughby’s home, Mompesson in Wiltshire was Mrs Jennings’ London residence.
- All that glitters
We own a gold mine – The Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire to be exact.
- We love eclectic collections
We own 49 churches, nine monasteries and eight billiard tables – the one at Tyntsfield is electronically heated.
- Miles of Coastline
We own 775 miles of coastline, including some of the best beaches and coastal paths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- We’re champions of green energy
Having been saved from ruin by the sugar magnate Abram Lyle’s family Barrington Court was recently given a fresh burst of energy with a new greener heating system. The 17th-century manor in Somerset was using more than 34,000 litres of oil each year for heating. Now it will be powered by sustainably grown, locally sourced wood. The new greener biomass system will save us £10,000 per year on energy bills. These savings can be spent on other vital projects. Crucially, it will also prevent 94 tonnes of CO2 emissions – the equivalent to filling 94 hot air balloons.
- We know a thing or two about gardens…
We look after some of the most stunning and important landscape parks and gardens in Britain. These contain the works of all the major garden designers in history, including William Kent, Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. They also showcase examples of every development in British garden design from Elizabethan through to modern styles.
Covering an area the size of Guernsey, our 200 gardens and 100 landscape parks support a vast range of historically and botanically important plants collected over the last 400 years from around the world.