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About the National Trust today

View of the ruins of Corfe Castle, lit in golden autumn sunlight, with a hill in the background
The ruins of Corfe Castle, Dorset | © National Trust Images/Jon Bish

As Europe’s largest conservation charity, we look after nature, beauty and history for everyone to enjoy. We do it with the help of millions of members, volunteers, staff and donors. Without this, we couldn’t care for the miles of coastline, woodlands, countryside and the hundreds of historic buildings, gardens and precious collections we protect.

Deep-rooted beginnings

In 1895, our founders, Octavia Hill, Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley pledged to preserve our historic and natural places. Their aim was not only to save important sites, but to open them up for everyone to enjoy.

They created the National Trust, and more than 125 years later, their mission is at the heart of everything we do.

We all want quiet. We all want beauty... We all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently.

A quote by Octavia Hill Co-founder of the National Trust

Who we are and what we stand for

We protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. Many millions share the belief that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. So we look after the nation’s coastline, historic sites, countryside and green spaces, ensuring everyone benefits.

From wild and precious places to the world outside your window the National Trust offers access, enjoyment and a chance for everyone to help out. Nature and the historic environment are under threat. They’re essential to everyone, they enrich people’s lives and are part of the fabric of society and they urgently need more care.

View of houses on the edge of the white chalk cliffs at Birling Gap, surrounded by metal fencing
Vulnerable clifftop buildings at Birling Gap in winter 2017 | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Nature, beauty, history

With our staff, members, volunteers and supporters, we are the biggest conservation charity in Europe. Everyone can get involved, everyone can make a difference.​

Your support keeps nature and history flourishing. You help us care for:

  • More than 780 miles of coastline
  • More than 250,000 hectares of land
  • More than 500 historic houses, castles, parks, and gardens
  • Nearly a million works of art

For everyone, for ever

Our shared places stretch across the nation, from Lizard Point in Cornwall, to Lindisfarne in Northumberland and Florence Court in Northern Ireland.

As well as looking after the places in our care, we work with communities and partners across the nations to protect nature, beauty and history in towns, cities, villages and countryside.

A group of people walking along a grassy path through an avenue of trees in full leaf

For everyone, for ever: our strategy to 2025 

Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.

Sir Robert Hunter with his daughter (centre), fellow National Trust founder Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley (far right) and a friend in the Lake District around 1900

Our founders 

Read about our three founders – Octavia Hill, Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley – who set up the National Trust in 1895 to protect natural and historic places.

Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust at Sutton House, Hackney, London

Reflections on 2021 video 

As 2021 drew to a close, Hilary McGrady, National Trust Director-General, shared her heartfelt thanks for your support through the year, and looked back on all you've made possible. She also looks ahead to the upcoming year, revealing the 2022 projects that excite her most as we gear up for a year of celebration.

Two women behind a serving counter laden with cake

About us 

Find out who’s who at the National Trust, read our strategy and learn about our history as a conservation charity, plus much more.