Remarkable Welsh story of woman who donated first National Trust Land

Dinas Oleu in Barmouth, Gwynedd

On 21 June 1895, philanthropist Fanny Talbot made her generous donation to the National Trust which would eventually lead us to become Europe’s largest conservation charity. Over a hundred years later, we now look after 247,000 hectares of land, 775 miles of coastline and 500 special places, but it all started with just one remarkable gesture. In Wales, we are proud that it all started here.

Richard Neale, Wales Coastal Engagement Officer for the National Trust said “Fanny Talbot played such an important part in the National Trust’s story. It’s fascinating to think that a donation along the coastline of Wales helped inspire the movement to grow. We’ve certainly come a long way since Fanny Talbot’s days, I think she’d be pleased.” 

Citadel of Light

United in their concerns about the impact the industrial revolution was having on the environment, a small group of people rallied together and formed the National Trust. The formation of the charity struck a chord with Barmouth philanthropist Fanny Talbot and she donated a small parcel of land in Gwynedd. The beautiful hillside spot in the seaside town of Barmouth with views of Cader Idris is known as Dinas Oleu, which fittingly translates as ‘Citadel of Light’. 

Remarkable Welsh story of Fanny Talbot who donated first National Trust land
	Philanthropist Fanny Talbot who played an important part in National Trust story.
Remarkable Welsh story of Fanny Talbot who donated first National Trust land

The small group of philanthropists who started the movement has expanded to nearly 5 million members, 10,000 staff and over 60,000 volunteers. Fanny Talbot’s first gesture of goodwill to help the organisation to protect and conserve, continues to this day. The same threat that sparked the formation of our charity in the late nineteenth century played its part in forming the biggest threat we face today – climate change. 

Making a difference

From humble beginnings we have grown into Europe’s largest conservation charity, with each donation of land, offers of funds or volunteered time inspiring new steps forward. The challenges we face today are many and varied, but Fanny Talbot’s story goes to show how getting together and making a contribution, no matter what size, can make a difference. 

It’s hard to imagine what our special places would look like today had those early pioneers not got together and taken action or if countless donors and volunteers hadn’t acted since. Who knows? 

Every time you donate, visit, volunteer or join the National Trust, together we are able to look after and cherish our special places, forever, for everyone.