The National Trust


National Trusthe National Trust is Britain's largest charity. It was established in 1895 to preserve 'Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty'. It is now one of the largest landowners in the country, and owns over 612,000 acres of land and 575 miles of coastline throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although the National Trust is famous for owning large estates and historic houses, the majority of the land it owns is countryside and open space, open free of charge to the public at all times and preserved in perpetuity. National Trust countryside properties include some of the most beautiful and valuable countryside sites in the world.

The National Trust is completely independent of the government and receives no direct funding.

Interestingly, the National Trust has the unique statutory power to declare land inalienable - such land cannot be voluntarily sold, mortgaged or compulsorily purchased against the Trust's wishes without special parliamentary procedure.

There is an outstanding publication called The National Trust Countryside Handbook giving excellent and comprehensive information about countryside properties owned by the National Trust. It is available from the National Trust or bookshops. The National Trust employs many countryside professionals, including some specialists with a wealth of knowledge. If you are interested in any piece of countryside owned by the National Trust you may well find that a great deal of very good quality information is available to you if you enquire of the local office.

National Trust Website: the organisation's official home page and database, which has a lot of information in it. It includes a searchable online version of the members handbook, and has some superb photographs too. However, few countryside sites are included in the database, which is a shame as there are so many of them. However, perhaps reflecting the way in which the National Trust works, there are a whole load of other semi-independent official websites produced by the National Trust, which give all sorts of other information which you cannot find on the main site. Here are some of the ones we know of:

National Trust: Learning and Discovery: a delight to use, far better looking than the main pages, and full of all sorts of useful stuff - including countryside bits.

Essential Tweed Monster Survival GuidePages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet: a light-hearted article about the National Trust by Naturenet editor, Matthew Chatfield.

Interesting Facts about the National Trust (2001 figures unless specified)

• 4 million people are members of the National Trust (2012).
• The National Trust is the UK's biggest private landowner. It owns 31 National Nature ReservesPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet and 411 SSSIsPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet.
• 519,725 schoolchildren visited National Trust properties in 1994.
• The National Trust owns more than 248,000 hectares (612,000 acres) of countryside and 925 km (575 miles) of coast.
• In 1996 there were 12 million visits to National Trust properties.

The National Trust for ScotlandPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet is a separate organisation. Many other countries, particularly Commonwealth ones, also have their own National Trusts which are similarly constituted - most of these have reciprocal visiting arrangements so if you are a member of one such Trust you can visit properties belonging to others for a reduced price or for free.

Holiday Cottages

The National Trust has a very popular scheme whereby some of its buildings can be let as self-catering holiday cottages. They are often in remote or very scenic areas, and usually in an unusual or old building. The cost of these is slightly more than many other cottages, but the standard of accommodation and particularly location is unbeatable. Visit their website for more info.

Royal Oak Foundation

Those in the USA who are interested in the National Trust may wish to find out more about the Royal Oak Foundation. This is an American not-for-profit charity which helps support the National Trust in the UK. Members of the Royal Oak Foundation have similar privileges to members of the National Trust- notably free entry to all Trust properties. Depending on the exchange rate it can be a good deal if you are planning to visit the UK. Royal Oak also awards scholarships to US residents to study in the UK, and organises lectures and study tours in the US. Over 30,000 Americans are already members of the Foundation.


For further information on how to become a NT volunteer:

Local volunteering
For local opportunities, contact the volunteers co-ordinator at your nearest National Trust office or visit the NT volunteers website.

Working Holidays (week-long/weekend residential projects)
For a current brochure, visit the NT working holidays website.


The National Trust
PO Box 39

Tel: 0844 800 1895

The Royal Oak Foundation
35 West 35th Street,
Suite 1200
New York,
New York 10001-2205

Tel: 001 212.480.2889