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Fascinating facts and figures about the National Trust

Newton's apple tree in the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire
Newton's apple tree in the orchard at Woolsthorpe Manor | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Have you ever wondered which house we bought first? How many pubs we look after? Or what our connection to the discovery of gravity is? The National Trust was founded over 125 years ago, and there are quite a few little-known facts and figures about the places in our care. We've gathered some of the best below for you to learn about.

Where are the facts from?

These figures are from our annual report 2020–21, which includes the impact of the pandemic, so we've also provided the previous year's figures where appropriate.

Where it all began

In 1895 Octavia Hill, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Sir Robert Hunter came together to establish the National Trust. With a shared belief in the importance of historic places and green spaces they fought to preserve them for everyone’s ‘enjoyment, refreshment and rest’. These values are still at the heart of everything we do.

A year later we saved our first house, Alfriston Clergy, in East Sussex for £10.

The west-facing front of the 14th-century timber-framed Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex. The deep eaves of the thatched roof cast shade on to light-coloured walls. Crosses of an old graveyard lie in front.
The west-facing front of the 14th-century timber-framed Alfriston Clergy House. | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

We're one big family

Members

More than 5.37 million people (5.95 million in 2019–20) are members of the National Trust. That’s more than the entire population of Costa Rica. It's thanks to the support of our members that we're able to protect over 500 places for everyone to enjoy now and in the future.

Volunteers

We depend on the skills and passion of our volunteers. Thousands of volunteers give millions of hours of their time, in hundreds of different roles from beekeeping to firefighting, to support our work.

Tenants

We’re the nation’s largest farm owner with nearly 250,000 hectares of land and more than 1,300 tenant farmers. We're committed to farming with both food production and nature in mind, so plants and animals can thrive.

Stars of stage and screen

Filming equipment for BBC show Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House, East Sussex
Filming equipment for BBC show Mapp and Lucia at Lamb House | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

We're TV and film stars

What do Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, Poldark and Game of Thrones have in common? The answer is the National Trust. Each of these productions has shot scenes at the historic houses and inspiring landscapes we look after. All the income from location fees supports our conservation work.

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Where history was made

Where gravity was discovered

Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree at Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire, is believed to be the place where, in 1665, the ‘notion of gravitation came to mind’ after he watched an apple fall. In 2015, apple pips from the tree were taken to the International Space Station by British astronaut Tim Peake.

Where radio was invented

On 12 December 1901, Marconi sent the world’s first transatlantic radio transmission from Poldhu to Newfoundland, a distance of 2,100 miles. Such was the scale of this achievement the station was visited by the future King and Queen in 1903.

Where electricity lit up the sea

A lighthouse has watched over mariners at the White Cliffs of Dover since the 1300s, but in 1904 it was upgraded to be the first lighthouse in the world to use electric light. So South Foreland took its place in history.

Famous residences

Great statesmen

Chartwell was the much-loved family home of Sir Winston Churchill. The rooms remain much as they were when he lived there, with pictures, books and personal mementoes reflecting this great statesman, writer, painter and family man.

Literary legends

Children's author Beatrix Potter donated 4,000 acres of land and 15 farms to us in 1943, following the success of her much-loved Peter Rabbit stories. We also look after her 17th-century farmhouse, Hill Top, in Cumbria, where you can step into the pages of her famous children’s books.

Cultural icons

Two small houses in Liverpool mark the beginning of one of the greatest cultural phenomena of the 20th century. One was the childhood home of John Lennon, the other of Sir Paul McCartney. In time they'd become half of The Beatles, but it was in these houses that they rehearsed some of their earliest music and wrote She Loves You.

Nature's friend

A member of staff kneeling down, checking on cuttings of the Ankerwycke yew in the plant nursery at the Plant Conservation Centre
Checking on cuttings of the Ankerwycke yew in the plant nursery at the Plant Conservation Centre | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

We know a thing or two about gardens

With 180 registered parks and gardens, we care for the largest collection of historic gardens and parks in Europe – including many created by the most notable designers. At our Plant Conservation Centre in Devon we protect the rarest and most threatened species.

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We do things on a big scale

20 per cent of National Trust land is coastal

Between 1965 and 2015 our Neptune Coastline campaign raised the money for us to secure the future of 574 miles of coastline. We now look after over 780 miles of coastline, including British landmarks such as the White Cliffs of Dover, the Giant's Causeway and the Needles.

Places of global importance

We look after places at nine of the UK's recognised UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Lake District, the stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury, the Giant’s Causeway and Hadrian’s Wall.

We rely on donations

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we received £79 million in fundraised income (£95.2 million in 2019–20). Of this, over £61 million went into caring for houses, gardens and collections. This included the £7.5 million restoration at Seaton Delaval Hall and a £10 million site-wide revitalisation project at Dyrham Park.

Our food and drink

Enjoy a cuppa and cake

Did you know we have 280 cafés serving millions of customers each year? They crack three million eggs, pour seven million hot drinks and serve more than two million scones. All of this helps fuel our visitors and conservation work.

Places for a pint

We look after 39 pubs and inns, including the George Inn in Southwark which featured in Dickens’ Little Dorrit and is the only pub in London with a gallery, and The Crown Bar in Belfast which welcomed HRH the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their visit to the city in 2018.

We grow and serve our own food

The National Trust is committed to serving our visitors with high quality, fresh, seasonal food. 35 of our cafés use ingredients grown in their own kitchen gardens. Customers can enjoy produce from our tenant farmers.

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