Information for journalists
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. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything we do. We look after special places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for ever, for everyone. You can find out more about the National Trust here.
President: HRH Prince Charles
Director-General : Dame Helen Ghosh
Chairman : Tim Parker
Deputy Chairman: Orna NiChionna
- More than 24.5m people visited the places we look after last year (2016/17), which includes 778 miles of coastline, over 247,000 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 £139 million looking after these places, and a further £225m running them day-to-day.
- We have 5 million members. Founded in 1895, it took until 1981 to each the first million members, and reached 4 million at the end of 2011.
- Last year over 65,000 volunteers gave more than 4.7 million hours of their time to support us, in more than 500 different roles.
- We’ve got around 7,000 staff who work with us year-round, plus a further 4,000 who join us through our busiest months.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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. This is why water is so important in our Land, Outdoors and Nature strategy – our work helps to improve water quality, flood and drought resilience and the wider aquatic environment.
- 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 the Dark Knight Rises, via Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall, Poldark and 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’re one big farming family
We’re the nation’s largest farmer, with more than 250,000 hectares 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 feisty 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.
- Looking after the world's heritage
We look after places in seven of the UK’s World Heritage Sites including the Lake District, Stonehenge, the Giants Causeway, the Jurassic Coast, the 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.
- Our first house was…
Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex, a dilapidated medieval meeting house, acquired in 1896.
- And the most recent place to open was…
The Firs in Worcestershire, birthplace of composer Edward Elgar.
- We depend on your donations
More than £67 million was gifted to the Trust in legacies, appeals and gifts during 2016/17.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 65,000 volunteers
We have over 65,000 volunteers generously contributing more than 4.7 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 Tyntesfield is electronically heated.
- Miles of Coastline
We own 778 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 2016/17 we produced nearly a third of our heating through renewable energy. Our ambition is to reduce our overall energy use by 20%, and source 50% of the energy we use from renewables by 2020/21.
- We know a thing or two about gardens…
We look after over 200 gardens and 180 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 works of many of the major garden designers in history, including William Kent, Capability Brown, Gertrude Jekyll and Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe. 93 gardens and parks are registered Grade I and II*, 30 contain SSSIs or ASSIs, two are National Nature Reserves and one is part of a World Heritage Site.
Covering an area the size of Guernsey, our gardens and landscape parks support a vast range of historically and botanically important plants collected over the last 400 years from around the world.