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Celebrating 125 treasures in our collections

Man and woman looking at large historic globe in gallery lined with Greco-Roman statues
The Molyneux Globe, Petworth | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

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 fascinating book – 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust – shares the stories behind some of these remarkable objects.

Picking the highlights

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.

Telling stories of our past

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

Open atlas showing highly detailed illustration of southeast England
Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales by Christopher Saxton | © National Trust Images/Angelo Hornak

The first national atlas

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 at Anglesey Abbey.

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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.

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, so check the relevant property webpage before you visit and to make sure the house you want to visit is open.

'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.'

– Dr Tarnya Cooper, Curatorial & Conservation Director, National Trust

Highlights from 125 Treasures

Furnishings, grand and small

Wide view of the inside of Nostell doll's house
Nostell doll's house | © Hasselblad H5D

Nostell doll's house

Immerse yourself in this fully-furnished, miniature 18th-century house where the beds are hung with velvet, silk and chintz. Nostell, West Yorkshire.

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Intimidation and display

Full set of black and yellow samurai armour on mannequin holding naginata blade
Full set of samurai armour at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/David Brunetti

Samurai armour by Kashu ju Munenao

Learn why this 19th-century samurai armour – beautifully decorated with a dragon, crickets and dragonflies – was designed for show rather than practicality. Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire.

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Animal wonders

A painting of the racehorse Hambletonian by George Stubbs (1724–1806), at Mount Stewart House, County Down, Northern Ireland. One man in a top hat holds the horse's bridle while another holds a cloth to rub the horse down.
Hambletonian, Rubbing Down by George Stubbs (1724–1806) at Mount Stewart, County Down | © National Trust

Hambletonian by George Stubbs

Discover this masterpiece of animal portraiture and learn how the racehorse Hambletonian nabbed victory at Newmarket in 1799. Mount Stewart, County Down.

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First English globe, first Welsh Bible

Large brown globe encircled by a carved wood frame
The Molyneux Globe at Petworth, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/John Hammond

Molyneux Globe

Uncover the significance of the first English globe and the only surviving example of the first edition. Petworth, West Sussex.

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Luxury ceramics

Blue and white ceramic flower pyramid featuring pastoral scenes
A 17th-century Dutch flower pyramid at Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire | © National Trust Images/Robert Morris

A Dutch flower pyramid

During the 17th century, nothing said luxury quite like tulips. Learn how Delft vessels like this were used to display tulips and other costly blooms to maximum effect. Dyrham Park, Gloucestershire.

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Front cover of 125 Treasures, showing images of artefacts and National Trust logo

Buy the 125 Treasures book

This beautifully illustrated book showcases 125 fascinating objects held in the collections of our historic houses. It's a starting point for exploring these collections. By buying the book, you're helping us to raise funds to conserve, research and share these collections for everyone to enjoy.

You might also be interested in

Landscape mural of Italian seaport showing a harbour scene in the dining room by Rex Whistler at Plas Newydd House & Gardens, Anglesey

Art and collections 

The art and heritage collections we care for rival the world’s greatest museums. Learn more about the collection of paintings, decorative art, costume, books, household and other objects at historic places.

A painting of the racehorse Hambletonian by George Stubbs (1724–1806), at Mount Stewart House, County Down, Northern Ireland. One man in a top hat holds the horse's bridle while another holds a cloth to rub the horse down.

125 Treasures series 

Join actress Alison Steadman in this podcast series as she delves into the stories behind five fascinating historical objects in the National Trust collections, from tapestries to obelisks.

Gold ring at The Vyne, Hampshire

12 golden objects to see up close 

From goldwork and gilding to goldsmithing and jewellery making, discover the ways in which gold has been used in the objects in our collections.

Oil painting on panel of a Young Girl holding a Chaffinch

Highlights from 100 paintings in the collections we care for 

The 13,000 oil paintings in our care are nearly all displayed in the houses of their historic owners. Learn about the stories behind a selection of the artworks and their owners.

Terracotta and black plate in Hamilton 'Collection of Etruscan Greek and Roman Antiquities' (Naples: 1766-1767), part of the Library collection at Tatton Park, Cheshire.

Great books in our collections 

Explore a selection from more than half a million books and manuscripts in the collections we care for. Libraries Curator Tim Pye takes a closer look at some of the most significant works.

View of a pelisse-robe, c.1837-40, made of a mixture of wool & silk. From the Snowshill Collection at Berrington Hall.

Revealing fashion treasures in the collections we care for 

We look after more than 27,000 pieces of dress, most belonging to the people who lived and worked in historic houses. From the luxurious to the everyday, explore highlights from the collections, which span over 500 years of changing tastes and fashions.

Close-up detail of Medusa's head at the back of the statue of Fame and Pegasus (c1705) by Andries Carpentiere, at Powis Castle, Wales

Mysterious objects in our collections 

There are many intriguing objects with connections to magic, mystery or death at the places in our care. From a witch's cauldron to death masks and a boat made of bones, discover some of the most mysterious objects in their collections.

A covered Japanese porcelain bowl in the collection at Sizergh Castle, painted in enamels with red and orange flowers among foliage, mounted in silver

Ceramics highlights in the National Trust's collection 

Discover highlights from our collection of around 75,000 ceramic objects, from an early Ming dynasty dish to an ancient Greek hydria.