Facts about the National Trust

View of the Giant's Causeway

We are a charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to protect them for everyone to enjoy. 126 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything we do. We look after nature, beauty and history throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for everyone, for ever. You can find out more about the National Trust here.

AGM 2021 supporting factsheets

Here are some factsheets for some of the resolution issues being discussed at this year’s AGM:

Volunteers factsheet PDF
Trail hunting factsheet PDF
Staff pay factsheet PDF
Curators factsheet PDF
Overcrowding factsheet PDF

Useful information about the Trust

President: HRH Prince Charles
Director-General : Hilary McGrady
Interim Chairman : Orna NiChionna

Please note, the figures in the following bullet points are from the 2020/21 pandemic year and therefore we have also provided figures for the previous 2019/2020 year in brackets.

  • More than 13.9m (28m in 2019/20) people visited the places we look after, which includes 780 miles of coastline, over 250,000 hectares of land, over 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves (including 9 lighthouses, 56 villages, 39 pubs and a gold mine).
  • During the last year we spent £83.8m (£169m) on conservation projects.
  • We have more than 5.37m (5.95m) members. Founded in 1895, it took until 1981 to each the first million members, and reached 4 million at the end of 2011.
  • Our teams of about 10,000 members of staff are supported by about 50,000 (c.53,000) volunteers.
  • We are a registered charity, completely independent of Government and rely on income from membership fees, donations and legacies and revenue raised from our commercial operations, such as our tea rooms and holiday cottages.
  • We are the nation's largest farm owner, with more than 1,500 tenant farmers.
  • Much of the land we look after is declared 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.

Facts about the National Trust which you may find surprising: 

  • We know a thing or two about gardens

We look after over 250 gardens and parks. This is the largest portfolio of historic gardens and parks in Europe and contains the largest collection of historically and botanically significant plants, as well as the work of many major garden designers including William Kent, 'Capability' Brown, Humphry Repton, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe.

93 gardens and parks are Grade I and II* Listed, 30 contain Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) and two are National Nature Reserves (NNRs). One, Studely Royal water garden, forms the centrepiece of the 18th-century designed landscape at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, which is inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

  • 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', is still growing well and in 2015 pips from it were sent to the International Space Station.

  • We love a cuppa

Each year, we serve over 4.5 million cups of tea. That’s quite a lot of tea.   

  • We’re film and TV stars

From Harry Potter to Poldark and from Tarzan to Wolf Hall, via Game of Thrones, the historic houses and stunning landscapes we look after have provided backdrops to some unforgettable moments on the small and silver screen.

  • 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 feisty mistress.

  • The drinks are on us

We own and run 39 pubs and inns, including the George Inn in Southwark, featured in Dickens’ Little Dorrit.

  • Looking after the world's heritage

We look after places in nine of the UK’s World Heritage Sites including the Lake District, City of Bath, Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, the Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast, the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and East Devon, Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscapes, Studley Royal Park including the ruins of Fountains Abbey, Hadrian’s Wall on the Frontiers of the Roman Empire, and most recently announced, the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales.

  • 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.

  • Our first house was…

Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex, a dilapidated medieval meeting house, acquired in 1896.

  • We depend on your donations

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we received almost £97.8 million in fundraised income during 2018/19.

  •  We’re pretty big...

We are the largest voluntary conservation organisation in Europe. The only organisation in the UK to have a larger membership is the AA.

  • Thunderbirds was inspired by Stourhead

Stourhead house was the inspiration for Lady Penelope’s residence in the original Thunderbirds puppet series in the 1960s.

  • We own the place where radio was invented

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.

  • Bats love our houses

All 17 species of UK bat have been recorded as roosting or breeding in our places, making us an 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. We also successfully helped re-introduce the beautiful Large Blue butterfly to England, after it was declared extinct in the UK in 1979.

  • Village people

We own 56 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.

  • 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 Tyntesfield is electronically heated.

  • Miles of coastline

We own 780 miles of coastline, including some of the best beaches and coastal paths in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • We’re champions of green energy

In 2018/19 more than 30% of the energy we used came from renewable sources. Our ambition is to reduce our overall energy use by 15%, and source 50% of the energy we use from renewables by 2020/21. 

View to the Mourne Mountains from Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down, Northern Ireland

Media Centre  

Our media centre provides the latest news, content and statements from the National Trust