Celebrating 125 treasures in our collections
The National Trust looks after a treasure chest of history. From artistic masterpieces and vast tapestries to precious personal possessions, the range and breadth of the collections is astonishing.
A new book – 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust – shares the stories behind some of these remarkable objects.
With more than one million objects at over 200 historic places, the National Trust looks after one of the world’s most significant collections of heritage objects and fine art. '125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust' brings together a selection of highlights.
Over 60 curators and specialists helped select the objects from places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to reflect the quality and range of the collections in our care.
The book takes readers on a journey through time starting with an Ancient Greek vase and ending with 20th-century design. Here, we take you closer to reveal more of the treasures and their connections to our places.
125 Treasures special displays
Visitors can see some of these treasures up close on special display at over 50 of our places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Look out for displays at Kingston Lacy, Petworth, Waddesdon Manor and more.
A number of the treasures are displayed for the first time, including a small Roman figure recently discovered on the Wimpole Estate and a purse that once belonged to Cardinal Wolsey at Seaton Delaval Hall. You can scan a QR code to reveal the intricacies of Anglesey Abbey’s 19th-century pagoda clock, or digitally ‘flick’ through a photographic album at Sutton Hoo to see the Anglo-Saxon ‘ghost’ ship that was discovered there in 1939.
Note some of these displays may change over the Christmas period, so check the relevant property webpage before you visit and to make sure the house you want to visit is open.
These treasures have fascinating stories to tell about the people who made, commissioned, acquired, saw or used them. Some of the objects have influenced the course of history, such as the first national atlas of Britain, created in the time of Elizabeth I to plan defences against Spanish forces. Other objects tell more personal stories, including the portrait of trusted housekeeper Mary Garnett at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, who guided tourists around the house in a career spanning 40 years.
The selection also includes a 17th-century box with a secret door embroidered in expensive silver and gilt threads and a meticulously annotated photo album taken with rare colour slide film capturing the excavation of Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.
Objects up close
This 17th-century box was embroidered in expensive silver and gilt threads by a young woman named Hannah Trapham. Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire.
The cartographer Christopher Saxton spent years surveying England and Wales to produce the first national atlas in 1579. He was supported by Queen Elizabeth I, whose portrait appears on the frontispiece. Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire.
Incredibly delicate, the purse has not been on display since the renovations to Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, began in 2018. Visitors can now see the purse of the man who was once second only to King Henry VIII in wealth.
In 1939 Mercie Lack photographed the site of Sutton Hoo, which contained the multiple burial mounds of an East Anglian royal dynasty. Sutton Hoo, Suffolk.
The oval eyes, nose and moustache are clearly discernible on this 1st-century AD Roman figure, found at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire. It probably originally served as the handle of a spatula, perhaps used to mix medicines, or wax to make writing tablets.
For decades, Mary Garnett (1724–1809) served as housekeeper at Kedleston Hall until her death at the age of 85. Dressed here in a black bonnet, she is shown as a loyal and trusted employee. Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.
This simple and stylish magazine table reflects the whole design of the house known as The Homewood, created by the architect Patrick Gwynne (1913–2003) for his parents in 1938. The Homewood, Surrey.
125 Treasures podcast
Get a taste of the podcast with our series trailer, presented by actress Alison Steadman.
" Unlike a museum, National Trust houses present us with art and objects in their historic contexts. With so many curious and wondrous objects it can be hard to know where to look first... and yet, as 125 Treasures reveals, each object has its own story to tell."
Art & collections
We care for one of the world's largest and most significant collections of art and heritage objects. Explore the highlights, our latest major exhibitions, curatorial research and more