National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty


National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty

National Trust Logo
Abbreviation National Trust
Motto For ever, for everyone
Formation 1894
Legal status Trust
Purpose/focus To Look after Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty permanently for the benefit of the nation across England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Headquarters Swindon, United Kingdom
Location United Kingdom
Official languages English
Key people The Prince of Wales
(President)
Dame Fiona Reynolds
(Director-General)
Simon Jenkins
(Chairman)
Sir Laurie Magnus
(Deputy Chairman)
Main organ Board of Trustees
Affiliations Various Organisations in the Council
Staff 4,964
Volunteers 61,000
Website www.nationaltrust.org.uk

The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust does not operate in Scotland, where there is an independent National Trust for Scotland.

According to its website:

"The National Trust works to preserve and protect the coastline, countryside and buildings of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We do this in a range of ways, through practical caring and conservation, through educating and informing, and through encouraging millions of people to enjoy their national heritage."[1]

The trust owns many heritage properties, including historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments and social history sites. It is one of the largest landowners in the United Kingdom, owning many beauty spots, most of which are open to the public free of charge. It is the largest membership organisation in the United Kingdom, and one of the largest UK charities by both income and assets.

Contents

History

The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty was incorporated in 1894 as an "association not for profit" under the Companies Acts 1862 to 1890, in which the liability of its members was limited by guarantee; it was later incorporated by six separate Acts of Parliament (The National Trust Acts 1907-1971 – as varied by a parliamentary scheme implemented by The Charities (National Trust) Order 2005),[2] it is also a charitable organisation registered under the Charities Act 1993.[3]

Its formal purpose is:

The preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and, as regards lands, for the preservation of their natural aspect, features and animal and plant life. Also the preservation of furniture, pictures and chattels of any description having national and historic or artistic interest.

The Trust was founded on 12 January 1894 by:

prompted in part by the earlier success of Charles Eliot and the Kyrle Society. A fourth individual, the 1st Duke of Westminster (1825–1899), is also referred to in many texts as being a principal contributor to the formation of the Trust.

In the early days the Trust was concerned primarily with protecting open spaces and a variety of threatened buildings; its first property was Alfriston Clergy House and its first nature reserve was Wicken Fen. Its first archaeological monument was White Barrow.

The Trust's symbol, a sprig of oak leaves and acorns, is thought to have been inspired by a carving in the cornice of the Alfriston Clergy House.

Carving of an oak leaf at Alfriston Clergy House

The Trust has been the beneficiary of numerous donations of both property and money. However, probably the most bizarre were those given by a mysterious masked group known as Ferguson's Gang between about 1932 and 1940.

The focus on country houses and gardens which now comprise the majority of its most visited properties came about in the mid 20th century when it was realised that the private owners of many of these properties were no longer able to afford to maintain them. Many were donated to the Trust in lieu of death duties. The diarist James Lees-Milne is usually credited with playing a central role in the main phase of the Trust's country house acquisition programme, though he was in fact simply an employee of the Trust, and was carrying through policies which had already been decided by its governing body.

Wicken Fen acquired by the National Trust in 1899

One of the biggest crises in the Trust's history erupted at the 1967 annual general meeting, when the leadership of the Trust was accused of being out of touch and placing too much emphasis on conserving country houses. In response, the Council asked Sir Henry Benson to chair an advisory Committee to review the structure of the trust. Following the publication of the Benson Report in 1968 much of the administration of the Trust was devolved to the regions.

In 2005 the Trust moved to a new head office in Swindon, Wiltshire. The building was constructed on an abandoned railway yard, and is intended as a model of brownfield renewal. It is named Heelis, which is the married name of writer Beatrix Potter, who was one of the National Trust's most important benefactors.[4]

Governance

The Trust is an independent charity rather than a government institution (English Heritage and its equivalents in other parts of the United Kingdom are government bodies which perform some functions which overlap with the work of the National Trust).

It was founded as a not-for-profit company in 1895 but was later re-incorporated by a private Act of Parliament, the National Trust Act 1907. Subsequent Acts of Parliament between 1919 and 1978 amended and extended the Trust's powers and remit. In 2005 the governance of the Trust was substantially changed under a scheme made by the Charity Commission.[5]

The Trust is governed by a twelve-strong Board of Trustees. The Board is appointed and overseen by a Council which comprises 26 people elected by the members of the Trust, and 26 people appointed by other organisations whose work is related to that of the Trust, such as The Soil Association, the Royal Horticultural Society, and the Council for British Archaeology.[6]

At an operational level the Trust is organised into regions which are aligned with the official local government regions. Its headquarters are in Swindon. The Central Office building is Heelis, taken from the married name of children's author Beatrix Potter, a huge supporter and donor to the Trust.

Funding

For the year ended 28 February 2010, the Trust's total income was £406 million. The largest sources of income were membership subscriptions (£125.2 million), direct property income (£105.6 million) and legacies (£50.3 million). In addition, the Trust's commercial arm, National Trust Enterprises Ltd, which undertakes profit-making activities such as running gift shops and restaurants at properties, contributed £54.7 million.

Expenses included £177.4 million for routine property running costs and £100 million for capital projects.

The Trust is heavily supported by volunteers, who numbered about 61,000 in 2009/10, contributing 3.5 million hours of work with an estimated value of £29.2 million.

Membership

The Trust is one of the largest membership organisations in the world and annual subscriptions are its most important source of income. Membership numbers have grown from 226,200 when the Trust celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1970 to 500,000 in 1975, one million in 1981, two million in 1990 and by 2010, membership had reached 3.7 million. Members are entitled to free entry to trust properties that are open to the public at a charge.

The members elect half of the Council of the National Trust, and periodically (most recently in 2006) vote on the organisations which may appoint the other half of the Council. Members may also propose and vote on motions at the annual general meeting, although these are advisory and do not decide the policy of the Trust.

In the 1990s a dispute over whether stag hunting should be permitted on National Trust land caused bitter disputes within the organisation and was the subject of much debate at annual general meetings, but it did little to slow down the growth in member numbers.

There is a separate organisation called The Royal Oak Foundation for American supporters.

Volunteering

The National Trust was founded in 1895 by 3 volunteers. Last year the National Trust was helped by 61,000 volunteers. Volunteering experiences at the National Trust are varied, ranging from helping in historic houses and gardens to fundraising and providing specialist skills.[7] Thanks to the volunteering opportunities and schemes which the Trust runs for children, it is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS)[8] in recognition of its work for the personal and social development of young people.

National Trust properties

Historic houses and gardens

A National Trust property sign at Gordale

The Trust owns two hundred historic houses that are open to the public. The majority of them are country houses and most of the others are associated with famous individuals. The majority of these country houses contain collections of pictures, furniture, books, metalwork, ceramics and textiles that have remained in their historic context. Most of the houses also have important gardens attached to them, and the Trust also owns some important gardens not attached to a house. The properties include some of the most famous stately homes in the country and some of the key gardens in the history of British gardening.

The trust acquired the majority of its country houses in the mid 20th century, when death duties were at their most punitive. James Lees-Milne was secretary of the trust's Country House Committee in the key period either side of World War II. The arrangements made with families bequeathing their homes to the trust often allowed them to continue to live in part of the property. Since the 1980s the trust has been reluctant to take over large houses without substantial accompanying endowment funds, and its acquisitions in this category have been less frequent.

Coast and countryside

A National Trust signpost at Mill Dale on the River Dove at the start of the path to Tissington
Cliffs and Worm's Head at Rhossili

The Trust's land holdings account for more than 630,000 acres (985 square miles, 2550 km²), mostly of countryside, covering nearly 1.5% of the total land mass of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A large proportion of this consists of the parks and agricultural estates attached to country houses, but there are also many countryside properties which were acquired specifically for their scenic or scientific value. The Trust owns or has covenant over about a quarter of the Lake District; it has similar control over about 12% of the Peak District National Park (See for example South Peak Estate, High Peak Estate). It owns or protects roughly one fifth of the coast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (704 miles, 1126 km), and has a long-term campaign, Project Neptune, which seeks to acquire more.

Other properties

In recent years the Trust has sought to broaden its activities and appeal by acquiring properties such as former mills (early factories), workhouses and Paul McCartney and John Lennon's childhood homes.

Protection of Trust property

The National Trust Acts grant the Trust the unique statutory power to declare land inalienable. This prevents the land from being sold or mortgaged against the Trust's wishes without special parliamentary procedure. The inalienability of Trust land was overridden by Parliament in the case of proposals to construct a section of the Plympton by-pass through the park at Saltram, on the grounds that the road proposal had been known about before the park at Saltram was declared inalienable.[9]

The Acts also give the Trust the power to make bylaws to regulate the activities of people when on its land. All photography at National Trust properties, other than that for private and personal use or for entry into approved competitions, is strictly prohibited.[10] Since "private and personal use" means that they may not be displayed on the Internet,[11] visitors are instead directed to request images from the National Trust Photo Library.[12]

Most visited properties

2009–10

Stourhead's landscape garden.
Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire

The 2009–10 annual report contains a list of all National Trust properties for which an admission charge is made that attracted more than 50,000 visitors in the year. The top ten were:

  1. Wakehurst Place Garden — 439,627 (administered and maintained by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
  2. Stourhead — 351,358
  3. Waddesdon Manor — 348,308
  4. Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal — 339,326
  5. Attingham Park - 257,340
  6. Polesden Lacey — 256,493
  7. Belton House — 249,785
  8. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge — 248,609
  9. Calke Abbey - 244,767
  10. St Michael's Mount — 240,557

National Trust Places in the United Kingdom

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Fedden, Robin, Joekes, Rosemary, "The National Trust Guide to England, Wales, and Northern Ireland", Norton, 1973. ISBN 0-393-01876-8.

External links

Video clips


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