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Press release

A celebration of Churchill, a garden at Chelsea, a chance for young people to contribute to science, culture and nature, and celebrating the power of volunteering: the National Trust unveils its programme for 2024

Wolla Bank marshland at Sandilands, Lincolnshire
Wolla Bank marshland at Sandilands | © National Trust Images/John Miller

2024 at the National Trust, which turns 129 today, will be a year for celebrating old traditions and establishing new ones that reflect the charity’s founding principles.

From a new photography display at Winston Churchill’s home in his 150th birthday year, to a prestigious Show Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, the Trust will celebrate the places and collections in its care and commemorate some major historic milestones through programming intended to widen access to nature, beauty and history for everyone. In line with this mission, the Trust will bring the beauty of blossom into new cities, create more space for nature and launch a major new award for 16-25 year-olds that celebrates creativity and innovation.

Hilary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “I'm delighted that 2024 will see staff, volunteers and supporters continuing our work to bring nature, beauty and history to ever more people. The need for everyone to be able to enjoy our shared inheritance was central to our founders and we will be channelling that spirit in all we do. Much of this work will be at places directly in our care, making our sites more accessible, better showcasing free-to-access countryside, and bringing houses and gardens to life with new exhibitions and events, sharing their stories with wider audiences.

“Just as important, however, is the work we do in partnership with others, beyond our boundaries. Our green corridors will help create more space for people and wildlife in our towns and cities, which we know is vital to our collective health and wellbeing. As we face the nature and climate crises, we must all play our part in passing on the places we love, in the condition they deserve, to the next generation.

“Finally, I'm looking forward to celebrating 30 years of Heritage Open Days, which opens the doors to local heritage across the country for free in September each year. The project is hosted by the Trust but made possible thanks to thousands of volunteer organisers. That passion for me perfectly sums up the Trust's purpose, promoting the spirit of conservation for everyone to enjoy."

Exhibitions, programming and anniversaries

Sir Winston Churchill’s family home of Chartwell, Kent will host a new, outdoor photography display in honour of his 150th birthday year, showcasing some of the most spectacular birthday bakes – which secured significant press interest at the time - Churchill received in his lifetime (13 January to 25 February). Historic photographs from TopFoto have been colourised for the first time, bringing the baking creations vividly to life. After the Second World War Churchill’s birthday became a moment of great interest for both the press and the public; from the late-1950s, interest had grown to the extent that there was a special photo opportunity for press to take snaps of the cakes at the bakery before they were dispatched.

This year, 16-25 year-olds are invited to take part in the Time + Space Award, launched by the Trust to ensure young people have the time, space and support needed to unlock their big ideas in some of the areas most important to us: science; art and culture; society; and nature and climate. Inspired by Isaac Newton’s “lockdown legacy” - his formative years and scientific discoveries at his home at Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, after being forced home from university due to a pandemic, the award is open to applicants until the end of April, with more information plus terms and conditions available on the Trust’s website.

200 years since the construction of the Workhouse and Infirmary in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, one of the most complete workhouses still in existence, pop-up exhibitions, storytelling sessions and a children’s trail will help visitors explore the site’s history in its bicentenary year. From February a new ‘[Re]Counted’ exhibition in the Infirmary – created in collaboration with FindMyPast – will give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of residents and inmates just after the First World War, as revealed by the 1921 census.

Several properties will be celebrating Angelica Kauffman, one of the most acclaimed female artists of the 18th century. Stourhead has recently acquired a work by Kauffman which will be on display following conservation. Petworth and Saltram will host displays around the Kauffmans in their collections, while Saltram and Nostell Priory are lending paintings to an exhibition of her work at the Royal Academy of Arts.

During Magna Carta week (10-16 June) the Trust will celebrate the completion of a £3.8m five-year programme of work at Runnymede and Ankerwycke, made possible thanks to a grant of £1.6m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Runnymede Explored includes new all-weather paths along the River Thames; a new audio tour and interpretation boards; new public art and poetry showcasing historic artforms of carving and weaving; new public gathering spaces for school and community groups; new accessible boardwalks through the SSSI Langham Ponds; and a viewing platform to see the 2,500 year-old Ankerwycke Yew.


For the first time, all visitable National Trust land will be findable by search engines and published on the Trust’s website. Digitising and publicising this information will make it clear and easy to find out which Trust places, in particular green spaces, can be visited for free.

The Trust is working with AccessAble to produce over 1000 detailed access guides for places in the charity’s care, from historic houses to holiday cottages, including access points for open spaces. The guides, which will be shared on the National Trust and AccessAble’s websites in 2024, will provide invaluable detail on how accessible places are for visitors with a range of needs and include information on accessible routes and pathways, facilities such as changing places toilets, and equipment such as mobility vehicles.


In major conservation projects, work is underway to clean and restore the ceiling in the Long Gallery at Lanhydrock, Cornwall. A scaffolding platform will not only allow conservators to work on the ceiling, but will give visitors in 2024 the chance to get onto the scaffolding and up close to the magnificent 17th century plasterwork.

A £3.3m conservation project has begun at Coughton Court, Warwickshire, to repair and improve the historic building’s façade and roof, and a three-year programme of works at Wightwick Manor to restore the house’s intricate exterior will continue throughout 2024.

Land, Outdoors and Nature

After an unprecedented public response to news of the Sycamore Gap tree’s felling in September, the Trust and Northumberland National Park are working together to create a fitting tribute. Thousands of images and memories from visitors to the site have been collected by the organisations and will be used in potential future exhibitions and to help build a 3D image of the tree. Meanwhile, seeds and cuttings taken from the fallen tree are being carefully nurtured by experts at the Trust’s specialist plant propagation nursery, and are showing positive signs of being viable for propagating.

The Trust’s Festival of Blossom will be bright and bold in 2024. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage is developing a new collection of creative works including poems, haikus and songs on the theme of spring blossom, and concerts will be held around the country, celebrating one of nature’s wonders through music and song. The Trust will continue bringing the Festival and the beauty of blossoming trees into cities, including, for the first time, into Durham, Coventry and Belfast.

Wicken Fen was the National Trust's first nature reserve and is England's most famous fen. With more than 9000 species recorded living there, it has been recognised as one of the most species-rich sites in the country. The Trust will mark 125 years since taking on the first portion of the Fen and 25 years of the Wicken Fen Vision Project with a year of celebrations from 1 May, which will include special events, guided walks and evening openings.

Work is due to begin, in late summer, on the creation of a wetland nature reserve and multi-purpose visitor hub at Sandilands on the Lincolnshire coastline.The transformation of the landscape will bring Sandilands back to its natural roots with open water, islands, reedbeds and ponds complete with walkways and boardwalks. Swathes of grasslands and sand-dunes should encourage local wildlife and migratory birds to settle, rest or start families.

In 2024 the Trust will publish its Climate Action Transition Plan, providing transparency for how the charity will meet its Net Zero by 2030 commitment, detailing the steps it is taking to transition to a lower carbon future.


The Trust and Blue Diamond Garden Centres are working with multi-award-winning garden design practice Ann-Marie Powell Gardens to create a prestigious Show Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024. The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust will celebrate Trust co-founder Octavia Hill and has been created with wellbeing, biodiversity and accessibility at its heart.

Award-winning local landscape architect Joe Perkins, together with the Trust, begins creating a new ‘garden within a garden’ at Sheffield Park & Garden, East Sussex. The first new area created in the garden in 70 years, it will address the challenges caused by climate change and increasingly drier and hotter summers through inspiring horticultural design and climate-resilient planting. The garden is due to open in spring 2025.

At Dyrham, South Gloucestershire, the team are creating a 17th century style parterre to link the garden and house in the style of the era. A host of tulips will bring a striking display of colour in spring 2024, complementing the 850 euonymus plants and yew trees.

Green corridors

The Trust’s ambition to create 20 green corridors connecting people and nature in urban centres with the countryside outside their boundaries continues apace in 2024. Working with grassroots organisations and communities in Gateshead, programming and activities will be launched in spring along the 9-mile-long green corridor that runs from the centre of Gateshead, along the River Tyne & River Derwent, to the Trust’s Gibside Hall & Gardens. Meanwhile, habitat improvement work begins in Bathampton Meadows, part of the Bath green corridor, with the harrowing and sowing of wildflower seeds in autumn to improve the grassland. There will be opportunities for the local community to take part in the sowing.

Supported in part by a major NHLF grant, a three-year project at Divis and the Black Mountain, Belfast, begins this year. The project will develop accessible trails, routes and connections from the city to Divis, undertake habitat and peatland restoration, create visitor infrastructure and increase opportunities to engage with heritage and nature.


The second annual Octavia Hill lecture will broadcast on Times Radio in March, subject to scheduling, after Neil MacGregor gave the inaugural lecture last year. This year’s lecture is presented by classicist and historian Professor Mary Beard and followed by a conversation with Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, OBE, Director of V&A East.

The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO), which brings together almost 100 organisations from more than 60 nations and territories from around the world, holds its biennial conference in Jordan in December, in partnership with the Petra National Trust and British Council. INTO Jordan 2024 will explore the role National Trusts play in climate change adaption, driving nature recovery and supporting heritage skills development.

Big Help Out

The Big Help Out, last year’s national campaign to encourage people to get involved and volunteer, is back in 2024. The Trust will once again support this important campaign, where people are inspired to come together to lend a hand in their communities. The Big Help Out takes place between 7 and 9 June 2024, at the end of Volunteers’ Week, and there will be opportunities to get involved during the celebrations.


Following essential conservation work, Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall, one of Britain’s earliest industrial sites, will reopen early this year in partnership with St Giles Cymru, who will use Aberdulais as a training, support & wellbeing hub for people facing adversity.


100 Photographs from the Collections of the National Trust is published in April 2024: spanning the history of photography from the 1840s to the present day, this book showcases 100 photographs from the many thousands held in collections at Trust properties and includes works by photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Chambré Hardman and Dorothy Wilding, alongside images captured by less familiar practitioners.