“ The National Trust was founded in 1895 by three Victorian philanthropists - Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Concerned about the impact of uncontrolled development and industrialisation, they set up the Trust to act as a guardian for the nation in the acquisition and protection of threatened coastline, countryside and buildings. More than a century later, it now cares for over 248,000 hectares (612,000 acres) of beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus almost 600 miles of outstanding coastline and more than 200 buildings and gardens of outstanding interest and importance. Most of these properties are held in perpetuity and so their future protection is secure. „
My husband and I together with my children and grandchildren have been members of the 'National Trust' for many years. We are now pensioners and due to the fact that we have been members for over ten years, the organisation has reduced our yearly membership fee. This has brought our Direct Debit monthly payment down considerably.
We have always been extremely impressed with the way their staff are very obliging either on the telephone or when attending one of their houses, gardens, mines etc. The guides are very informative and explain everything very thoroughly.
Due to retirement, we find we now have the time to travel around England on a regular basis and whilst visiting Cornwall recently, we found that being that because we were displaying our sticker on the windscreen of our car showing that we were National Trust members, numerous car parks were free to us throghout the county. This, of course, being a great bonus.
Joining the 'National Trust' has been one of the best decisions that we have ever made. Apart from visiting a vast amount of magnificent properties, we have also been able to share this experience with our children at the same time, which has proven to be very adventagious in their learning curve. Also the children have enjoyed exploring, picnicing, and playing in their beautiful gardens.
A spot of lunch in their Tea Rooms is another treat. Invariably fresh produce, very tasty and above all reasonable.
Without any hesitation, we would certainly recommend the 'National Trust' especially for long term value.
Awful experience with the Gift Membership scheme, which has quite put this household off from any further attempts to remedy the situation, or indeed to visit any "pay-to-enter" properties administered by the NT.
A gift membership for two adults was purchased for cash at a National Trust High Street shop. Included in the gift membership pack was an "activation card" inscribed with the date of purchase and an activation code that seems to relate to the shop and a unique ID number.
A phone number is given on the reverse that is supposedly available 365 with reduced hours on weekends and bank holidays.
The recipient phoned the number on the first normal working day after receiving the card and was told that "the computers were down" and the membership could not be processed. Some days later another attempt with the same response. And another.
Some "googling" revealed that the NT has ongoing computer problems since at least 2007 and so several days left until the next attempt.
"Good morning ... and how are your computers today?" elicited the response that there was no problem and had been no recent problem. Alarm bells start ringing.
The details given yet again to the Customer Service (hah!) operator and after being put on hold told that the membership could not be processed, but he would try and find out more. To his credit he did phone back within a couple of hours, but said he couldn't do anything but would pass the matter on, and we could expect another phone call from his managers - which has not materialised.
It seems that there is a complete discontinuity between the shops (who sell memberships), NT HQ and call centre, and some third party IT company who manage the membership records. From an outsourcing review website ( http://www.sourcingfocus.com/site/newsitem/752/ dated Friday, June 20, 2008 ) one reads:
"Andy Copestake, Finance Director for the National Trust, commented: "We are looking to further developing our long term strategic relationship with Vertex where we can together take full advantage of the experience, skills and enthusiasm of our people to deliver a first class service to all our supporters." "
Not seeing much of the first class service from this end Mr Copestake! Meanwhile we hope to get a refund on the £88.50 spent as the service sold was not as described, and the NT have lost the membership, and goodwill of a couple of people who would have been keen supporters. We have no trust in the National Trust.
Firstly i would say they should go and spend time with the National Trust for Scotland as they really do know how to focus on their Customers
This is a true account
We joined the National trust for England on line and you print your Temp membership card
however after the expiry date we phoned up NT England membership-they apologised but we said we wanted our cards as NT policy is such that no membership card then no admission at that venue-the NT suggested(dont laugh that WE may wish to phone the venues we wish to visit prior to visiting and explain and they could phone NT!!)
We were promised the Pack would be sent-never arrived so several weeks later We phoned again-well there maybe a problem at our distribution depot-hello not my problem!!Well could you not send it first class post so i can have my pack and cards-no our policy does not allow it!!But you could go through our complaints ...no sorry please refund my money
So i go to theNTScotland (yes if you live in England you can join NTS and go to England an scotland)
They could not believe my experience withNT England but they agreed it was silly not to send the pack out first class if it was a mistake ...rather then fall out with a member. So they promised and delivered my membership by First Class post so hats off to NT Scotland !!
Ever wondered where the NT money goes...we have seen a growth in both the membership and the fees-like any registered charity i think there should be a independent list of admin/marketing percentage etc so you can see the amounts wasted
Lets streamline and rejuvenate NT England to make more effective use of its membership money /bequests/grants etc
Talk to people who deal with NT ie tenants ,contractors etc and i,m pretty sure they will agree that the radical overhaul of NT England would be beneficial
We have a joint membership of the National Trust which cost us around £70 for the year because we joined as we visited our first national trust property. They do special offers on membership at various times of the year.
Once you're a member you can visit any national trust property throughout the country. This makes it great if you're planning on holidaying in the UK. The trust also has a reciprocal agreement with Scotland and some other countries which means you can visit places there for free too.
There are one or two venues that are not completely free e.g where you still have to pay a small entrance fee or car park fee - this is few and far between though - most venues are completely free. However, we usually end up spending some money in the restaurant or café which are in the main very good - we've encountered the odd one that isn't but this is rare.
There's lots of beautiful places to visit. We've had our money's worth and visited over 20 properties and they have always been presented to a high standard. The National Trust has tried to do away with it's stuffy image and some properties have comfy settees in the property that you can sit on and have interactive things such as a snooker table you can play on or croquet that you can play in the grounds.
I think all the properties do a deal whereby you can pay for admission just for that venue to get a taste of what it is all about, if by the end of the day you want to join they will refund that day's entrance fee.
I joined the national trust at the begining of the summer holidays after a friend suggested we went to a local national trust property that has a great play area for children. It was going to cost £16 for my daughter and I to get in so I decided a years membership for £46 would be well worth while - this is the single parent deal as I wanted something to do in the week with her while Dad was at work, family membership is £61 by direct debit. I then discovered I could get 20% cashback by going through a cash back website so I only needed to make 3 visits to be up on the deal.
We have had some great days out. For any Midlanders I would particularly recommend Belton House for a day out with the kids as the adventure playground is fantastic and seems to amuse anyone from tots to teens. My daughter (6) also thoroughly enjoyed a trip to Hardwick Hall, which did not appear especially child friendly at first glance, but she was fasinated by the tales of Bess of Hardwick, spend some time exploring the ruins of the old hall and had to be positively dragged away from the rose gardens.
All the national trust properties we have visited have had good restaurants, clean toliets and nice outdoor picnic areas so I sometimes stop off at one just to break up a long journey and have something to eat.
Many of the properties close for the winter so it is something you need to make the most of during the summer. However I see on their website there are some lovely Christmas things planned including decoration making for children, viewing some of the properties with the Christmas decorations up and carol singing which I am sure will be fantastic in some of the great halls - note there is often and extra charge for special events like this.
All in all I think national trust membership has been a great deal for us. Keeping the children amused during the holidays can be an expensive hobby and this way there is plenty to do for a fairly modest membership fee. Your money is also helping to conserve some wonderful places.
I was a member of the National Ttust and found them the worst organisation it was my misfortune to be a member of.Having driven to just walk round a National Trust garden realised I had forgotten my card and wallet I asked them to ring and confirm I was a member but they seemed to gloat in my misfortune and said they couldn't it was impossible(when I got home I did it really easily so that was obviouly a lie).The garden fee was about £4 and when I complained to their customer relations department talk about holier than thou attitude, they told me they were a charitable organiseation and had a responsability to maximise reveue,they seemed unable to get it into their thick heads that I told them I would not renew my membership which I only did to support conservation they would probably be worse off by a matter of 100 times what a farce it all was but sadly very true,lets see if the N T has any comments or regrets.
We joined the National Trust last year whilst on holiday as there were a few Beatrix potter attractions we wanted to see and they had a special deal on for under 25s which meant we would spend the same money paying entrance to the ones we were going to anyway.
They were very efficient in signing us up, I normally get irriatated by the time it takes to process such applications but it was quick and we got a membership pack there and then with national trust guide which meant we could plan further visits and begin to make use of our membership.
We were sent our real membership cards very quickly and have since had our renewal cards in plenty of time for our next year of membership.
We also get a national trust magazine which is really quite interesting.
You get a sticker which means you can park for free in most of the national trust car parks which is a bonus.
I like having the pass as I am interesting in heritage properties and really enjoy a day out looking t historical sites. It means we can plan a day or week away and know we will have things to do for free! (you pay the one off membership fee and then no more so could be seen as free days out!) Brilliant for when you have limited funds!
Not only do we benefit from 'free' days out the annual membership is a brilliant way of supporting charity that does superb work in suporting, mantaining and preserving beautiful historical properties for future generations.
It really is worth the money as we check our guide whenever we go somewhere and fit a visit in as and when we can!!
In these slightly more austere economic times, the best investment I have made is membership of the National Trust.
What is it?
The National Trust is a charity that acts to preserve a range of buildings and environments, ranging from stately homes to mills, coastline to hills, for future generations to learn from and enjoy.
How much does it cost?
Membership for a year costs less if you pay by direct debit, with the current direct debit prices being just £35.63 for one adult, £59.63 for 2 adults or £61.50 for a family. To put this into perspective, if you were to go as a family to legoland for just one day it would cost over £100, and an on-the-day ticket for one adult to Alton Towers costs £36 - more than a whole years membership of the National Trust!
So what do I get for my money?
As a member you get a flimsy cardboard members card, a car sticker, the handbook of places you can visit and a magazine every 4 months. The big selling point is of course all the places it entitles you to visit. Recently we've taken to planning our holidays around which National Trust properties we can visit, initially as a money-saving plan but now because we've enjoyed the ones we've visited so much. For example, if you were to go to Kent for a weekend you would find you were within driving distance of a fabulous castle, Rudyard Kipling's house, a charming 14th century moated manor house and Winston Churchill's home, to name just a few. If you found yourself on the other side of the country in Cornwall you could visit several stunningly beautiful gardens, an amazing Victorian house and a tin mine, not to mention enjoy free car parking at lots of coastal locations. The other excellent thing about National Trust membership is that since all visits are free you can use visiting a National Trust location as a way to break a long journey if you plan in advance without worrying about it costing money - and as well as a pleasurable break to the tedium of driving it will provide somewhere to have some nice, reasonably priced food and use clean toilet facilities!
What can I expect to find on visiting a National Trust location?
Of course, this varies greatly from location to location, but in general on visiting an historic house you can expect to find basics such as toilets, picnic facilities, some form of café/restaurant and a gift shop. You can then expect the house itself to be wardened by a team of keen and usually knowledgeable volunteers, and if you have children more and more properties provide quizzes or activity packs to entertain and educate them too. The handbook that comes with membership is excellent at letting you know what to expect beforehand.
Am I too young/too old?
As already mentioned properties are making an effort now to cater for children and in general the majority of the children I've seen have seemed contented and amused by their visits (especially at the locations that have outside games/dressing up boxes for them!)
I myself am 26 now, consider myself fairly 'normal' and have been a member of the National Trust since I was 24. Recently I've started noticing more and more people my age at National Trust properties, including groups of young adults on days out, all of whom seem satisfied with the experience and don't seem to fall into any particular stereotype.
Moving to the other extreme, those who have more advancing years are also well-catered for. The National Trust website states that "Most properties have a good degree of access" and that "Unless otherwise mentioned in the relevant property entry, all properties have adapted WCs. Many properties provide manual wheelchairs for loan."
In short, I think the National Trust has something for the majority of different ages as their locations allow you to focus on different things depending on your individual interests.
As I wrote at the beginning of the review, membership of the National Trust is the best investment I have made recently. However, if you don't travel much it may be worth looking at their website first to determine if there are things near you that are of interest, as some parts of the country have more to do in them than others. Also, lots of locations are not well served by public transport so it may not be worth being a member if you don't have a car.
In terms of my personal favourites out of all the locations I've visited (and I'm now well into double figures) my top three have to be Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire... if you live near any of those they are probably worth the membership fee alone.
**Posted on ciao under the same name**
Little Moreton Hall is a National Trust property in Congleton, Cheshire. It is on the A34 four miles from Congleton itself. For Sat. Nav uses the postcode is CW12 4SD.
It is open most weekends throughout the year and Wednesday to Sundays, from March to October. Although it is open on Bank Holidays.
Entrance fee including the Gift Aid is £6.75 per adult and £3.30 per child and family tickets can be bought from £16.80. However, pushchair access is limited in some areas, so front carrying baby slings are available on request.
This property is a timber - framed, moated tudor manor house set around a cobbled court yard. One of the main features is a magnificant long gallery but the whole place is brought to life by the free guided tours. The tour guides are so enthusiastic and keen to give you an insight into what life was like in Tudor times and are willing to answer questions. There are also activity sheets available for children and adults.
There are the usual gift shop and licensed restaurants assosiated with the National Trust but the restaurant does serve home cooked food made from local produce and there is a separate children's menu. There is also, an ice cream kiosk, in the picnic area, on the way to the small compact gardens.
It is well worth a visit.
*** The National Trust Overview ***
The National Trust is a registered charity that looks after national treasures both man-made and natural. They work to preserve and protect coastline, countryside and buildings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The National Trust for Scotland does a similar job north of the border. (The two organisations allow members of either free admission.)
They get no Government support, but rely on income from membership fees, donations, legacies and their commercial enterprises.
As I haven't got enough fingers and toes to count these personally, I got the statistics regarding what is in the care of the National Trust from their website.
707 miles of coastline
611,300 acres of countryside
5,150 pre-historic sites
215 houses and gardens
6 World Heritage Sites
2 Gold Mines
25 Medieval Barns
400 Factories and Mines
76 Nature Reserves
The National Trust want to look after these FOR EVER, FOR EVERYONE.
There are local groups for those who want to get more involved than just visiting. 52,000 volunteers gave 2.3 million hours of their time to help them in 2007-08, including duties involving opening properties to the public and practical maintenance.
*** Recent News ***
A recent initiative is to provide 1,000 new allotment plots for people to grow their own fruit and vegetables. This facility already existed but the demand is huge. This means they need more volunteers who have growing skills who would be willing to pass them on to new enthusiasts.
Many of the Trust's allotments use environmentally friendly modern techniques. Though when visiting a vegetable plot at Calke Abbey, that grows produce using the same techniques that were used hundreds of years ago, it amused me to see one type of potato named Golden Wonder. Showing that the brand of crisps with the same name came long after the original Golden Wonder potato.
*** My Experience of Annual Membership ***
Spring is in the air, and I'm looking forward to using the Christmas present that our daughter has bought for us again. It's the joint one that hubby and I usually get from her, but I don't think we will ever get bored with it. It's the Joint National Trust Annual Season Ticket.
To make it into something the buyer can present to the recipient, it comes with literature and an extra gift included in the price, when bought on the run up to Christmas. This year it came with a compact pair of binoculars. The Christmas before it was a picnic rug.
At other times of the year there are different incentives. If the incentive is an extra few months of membership, bear in mind that most Trust buildings only open between Easter and October.
Even if you aren't lucky enough to get this as a gift, it is still great value for money, especially if, like us, you appreciate visiting the Trust's historical buildings and gardens, as well as their nature reserves. Even when the nature reserves are free to pedestrians, there can be a hefty car park fee, which is included in the price of the season tickets.
Some areas of the country contain more of the properties with high entrance fees than others. You can look on the Trust's website to see how many of the properties you might be interested in are near you, or the area you may be holidaying in.
As we live in the south east of England, there are many properties in Kent and Sussex that we can visit on a day trip.
Here are properties we have visited near us in one year's membership. The price I give is for a single adult admission.
4 properties close to Sevenoaks in Kent
Knole House and Deer Park £9
Chartwell House and Garden £10.60
Ightham Mote £9.40
Emmetts Gardens 5.80
Also in Kent
Scotney Castle £8.50
Sissinghurst Castle Garden £8.80
And just over the border in East Sussex
Bodiam Castle £5.20
A little bit further for us in West Sussex
Wakehurst Place Gardens £10
Sheffield Park Gardens £7
Nymans Gardens £7.70
PLUS we use it a lot on our countryside holidays in various other locations. We only go away for a maximum of a week at a time, so we fit in several different parts of the country into our year's outings.
It is easy to spot areas with large concentrations of National Trust properties on the NEW INTER-ACTIVE MAP on their website. Click the Places to Visit tab on the homepage and then Try Our New Map on the left hand menu.
Do check opening times, as some properties in the same area can't open on the same day (especially the smaller ones), due to volunteers taking it in turn to staff them.
We go on self-catering holidays, so apart from the standard cost of the cottage and petrol, we have very little extra expenses when making full use of this ticket. We don't go in for nightlife, as we would rather be out and about in daylight hours exploring the joys that our countryside has to offer.
If these sorts of outings aren't for you, think about whether someone you buy a present for would appreciate this.
I may find time to review some more of the many places we have visited for you, or I may not have time due to enjoying these lovely outings.
From the above Kent/Sussex outings my favourites are Knole House out of the atmospheric historic buildings, and Sissinghurst for beautiful formal gardens. Beware though, Sissinghurst is one of the Trust's most overcrowded properties at peak times, so I couldn't recommend going on Sundays or Bank Holidays. In contrast, there is plenty of room to roam in the large Knole deer park, if there is a waiting time to get into the large building.
Local knowledge can be a great advantage, so phone the properties at times they are open, before visiting, if you think you may need advice. (I am happy to answer questions about properties I know about.)
*** 2009 Annual Season Ticket Prices ***
Joint (2 adults at same address) £77
Family (2 adults & their children or grandchildren) £82
One Adult Family £62
Young Person £21
You usually get approx 20% off these prices if you buy by Direct Debit.
See the National Trust website for full details of prices, and how to buy on-line.
There are also Life Membership deals, which could be great value for money for young people who are able to take advantage of them.
*** Recommendation ***
For hubby and me, National Trust season tickets are a cost effective way of visiting our country's natural history treasures, as well as its historical buildings and gardens. We wouldn't be able to afford the individual admission prices to all the places we usually visit in a year.
I thank all those involved in the National Trust's work of preserving and protecting buildings, countryside and coastline for the great pleasure we have had exploring their properties.
I highly recommended The National Trust to all who care about our country's history, natural beauty, and preserving our heritage for future generations.
The National Trust is an organisation which aims to preserve areas of the UK which are of national importance fo future generations. These areas can be anything from areas of stunning scenery, right through to the childhood homes of The Beatles. The properties are acquired through a variety of means, the most popular being either being given the site by the previous owner, most likely on their death, or by purchasing the site. Once the Trust take over a property, it can only be sold once again if parliament agrees to it, meaning that generally the properties will be held in perpetualility for the nation. Funding comes from a variety of sources, by entrance fees to individual properties, membership fees, which gives a holder free entry to all National Trust properties for a given period of time (usually a year) and commercial activities such as restaurant sales and room/property hire.
As has already been mentioned the National Trust has sites all over the country. It would be impossible to give a view of all of these sites, so instead I am going to concentrate on one or two which I am familiar with, and hopefully my experiences of these properties will give an basic impression of how the organisation runs all of it's properties.
The first property I am very familiar with is the property of Mwnt in West Wales, just north of Cardigan. This property consists predominately of a small sheltered beach and the surrounding coast. Access to the site itself is free, however the National trust do run a car-park which they charge non-members to park in.
As has already been said there is a very sheltered beach, with some of the best sand I have found in the British Isles. The beach is a long way below the level of the cliff top and car-park, and so there is a considerable number of steps. However approximately half way down there is a small shop which sells beach goods and various foodstuffs. I can partciaulrly recommend the sausage rolls, on my last visit there they were some of the best I have ever tasted. Adjacent to the shop there is a small toilet block and similar facilities. Down at beach level there is a small stream, with children have fun trying to block off and divert. Whilst playing in the sea is never without risks, as the beach is sheltered by a large headland, and Mwnt beach itself is very small, it is safer than many other beaches in the UK, although when I last visited there were no lifeguard facilities.
Surrounding the beach there are large cliff areas which are popular with walkers, and a very small church which dates back many centuries. On many occasions I have seen dolphins jumping out in the sea from the cliff top. Another interesting thing of note is Mwnt was the site of one of the last military invasions of the British Isles, by the Flemings.
Tyntesfield House and the surrounding gardens are a National Trust property which were bought relatively recently after there was a national appeal for funds. Situated south of Bristol, it is one of the most visited National Trust properties, this despite the site is still relatively difficult to visit. Whilst I believe the sitaution has now changed, when I first visited, a booking had to be made in advance. It wasn't possible to travel directly to the site, and instead there was a need to get a shuttle bus from a local supermarket car park. The site itself was undergoing a lot of restoration when I visited and so large areas were closed off to the public, however this may have changed. One thing that I did like was the fact that due to it being a new property the work was ongoing, and so the house didn't feel like a typical old stately home that had been opened to the public with a set path and ropes, with all the items in glass cases.
By being a member their is free access to all National Trsut properties, as well as a book which gives a brief outline of every property and a subscription to the magazine service. It is possible to sign up for membership when leaving a property which has been visited, if this is done the National Trust will refund the cost of visiting that property. They often have special deals whereby if you sign up there and then you can get 3 months free or a reduction on the membership cost. This is what I did, and so the from memory the cost for me was about £15, but I qualify for a young person's card and so get it cheaper. However by looking on the National Trsut site now it is possible to get an anuual adult's membership for £34.50 and family membership for £61.50 (two adults and children). There are also many other deals which can be found on the National Trust website.
Overall I have been rather impressed with the National Trust, and would advise anyone who likes to visit such sites to do so, and if sufficient sites would be visited to make membership pay I would urge you to join.
DONT TRUST THE NATIONAL TRUST. This organisation is profiteering from the housing crisis and acting like a greedy property developer. Stop them building a 'new village ' for commuters on the Erddig estate in North East Wales.
Please visit Rhostyllen.com and help us protect our heritage from the National Trust.
If you don't agree with their behaviour, cancel your membership. This so called charity has 841 million in the bank yet they want to detroy our local heritage.
I was a member of the National Trust for several years and it is only recently that I have not renewed my membership.
Over the years I was a member we visited many different properties, throughout the UK. Whenever we were on holiday we would seek out NT places and make a point of visiting them.
The NT was set up to preserve historic houses and gardens and other places of interests, such as nature reserves, such as the Red Squirrel reserve at Formby, for the enjoyment of the public. Therefore wherever you are in the British Isles you are within easy reach of one of the NT attractions.
Membership fees vary according to the type of membership you want. You can join as an individual, a couple (living at the same address), a family, student etc. It is best to check at their website or one of the properties for current membership fees.
Once you join you are given a handbook which lists all the properties throughout the UK, together with your membership card which lasts for one year. When you visit NT places you show your card and you are admitted free. This represents a great saving on entrance fees.
When I joined we were in the Lake District visiting the house where Beatrix Potter lived. If we joined there we could also access other NT properties in the area and during our few days in the Lake District we had more than had our moneysworth.
Another must-see attraction is Cragside near Rothbury. This is a magnificent house and the grounds, especially in the spring when the rhododendrons are out, are breathtaking.
In each NT property there are guides in most of the rooms. These are all volunteers (yes, you can become a volunteer too if you want) and they give up their time to advise visitors. The ones I have encountered are all very pleasant with the exception of one chap who seemed to think he was a Sgt Major the way he spoke to me when I had mislaid my entrance ticket. Even though I showed him my NT card and could not have got as far as the house without obtaining my ticket, he decided to be awkward and spoke to me as if I was a five year old. If I had not really wanted to see this particular property I would have walked away.
These are just a couple of examples of where we used our NT membership. However, I have to admit that after a while it became rather boring to visit houses that were set out like museums and where photography is not allowed. I understand flash photography is harmful and people may use photos for unauthorised purposes, but I do think sometimes that when you want to take a shot of an interesting piece of plasterwork on the ceiling or something obscure that you should be allowed to do so.
You can of course take photos of the gardens. These are delightful on a warm day and there is always a teashop nearby where you can sit and admire the view.
As regards safety, I would feel perfectly safe wandering around the NT gardens on my own, not so in public parks, which makes NT membership attractive to single people and mums with children. There are often play areas too for the children. Even if you don't want to take the kids into the houses, you can just use your membership and visit the gardens.
However, back to my point. I began to question whether some of the furniture in the houses was really as authentic as the NT would have us believe. Had they done adequate research to recreate the houses?
Well I got my answer one day when I was looking at a bedspread on one of the beds in a house - can't remember where it was. The guide took great delight in pointing out that it had cost over twenty thousand pounds to restore that particular bedspread!!!! Now this really got my goat! Yes, it might have been worth preserving, but surely for a lot less than that they could have had a replica made? After all, it was only a bedspread. Had they done the same with the curtains and all the other soft furnishings I wondered? I was somewhat annoyed as walking round the rest of the hosue I could see structural repairs that would have been far more worthy of having that amount spending on them than on a bedspread!
I decided then that this was not what I wanted my NT membership money to be spent on, so I decided not to renew. One word of warning, if you pay by Direct Debit and you want to cancel after the first year then do remember to cancel your DD!
Overall, I would say the NT is a good organisation to join if you enjoy the pleasures historic houses and gardens have to offer, but after several years I have had enough.
I first opted for some kind of annual National Trust Membership years ago when visiting a Scottish property - Culzean Castle. When visiting a National Trust property you are offered the opportunity to sign up to an annual membership, and will get any entry fees refunded for the day. Members of the National Trust for Scotland do qualify for free admittance to the National Trust properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the annual fee is marginally less, and if you join the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can in fact visit the Scottish properties such as Culzean Castle in Ayrshire that I often visited, along with the sites of those historic battles, Bannockburn and Culloden.
However, having let my membership expire a few years ago, a recent trip to a NT property closest to me inspired me to rejoin. Living in a totally new part of the country that I am yet to fully explore, I felt confident that I would very quickly recoup my membership fees.
There are various different membership options available, depending on the family unit. I opted for a Joint Membership, which costs £68 in total for one year. Depending on when you join in the month, you actually get slightly over one year in the first year of membership. A family ticket for two adults and all their children under 18 years costs £73, so that represents great value for money. There are other options including child and young person only tickets, with the latter being especially beneficial for those under 25. One parent families get an £18 discount on the family membership.
However it does pay to shop around a little, as there are invariably offers available. I joined at a property and received immediate free entry and a property guide, saving me an extra £5, however if you join on line you can save 25% of the fees and benefit from a free gift. I also saw this offer available at the most recent property I went to, a couple of weeks ago.
Whether it is value for money or not will depend on how many trips you might expect to squeeze in during the year. The likelihood is that the majority of these will be in your own region, plus any other regions you might visit on holiday or to visit family. For me I am quite fortunate being based in the East Midlands as I can reach most regions quite easily, and have family in the NW of England and SW of England who I visit regularly. I have found that since I took out membership, I have been more inclined to visit attractions in my local area (Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, and Leicestershire). However during the winter months, many attractions do close up, or only the grounds are open, and so from the end of October until March, there may not be many places available to visit.
Without question there will be many National Trust properties near enough to everyone. The National Trust states that they... "care for 28 castles, 215 houses and gardens, 150 museums, 127 factories and mines, 57 villages, 47 dovecotes, 25 medieval barns, 78 mills, 19 pubs, 12 lighthouses, 31 nature reserves, 704 miles of coastline and 600,000 acres of countryside" - there is enough for a few years membership there.
In my own area I have already visited Clumber Park near Worksop several times. This is a huge park with plenty of activity for everyone, and the grounds itself are open all year around so it is great for a winter walk, especially post Christmas or New Year. I have already reviewed one of my favourite attractions in the area, The Workhouse in the wonderful village of Southwell. I am going to have to wait until March next year to visit "Mr Straw's" home, a 1920s suburban home in Worksop, which has not been touched since the 1920s and was gifted to the National Trust in 1990.
Moving into Lincolnshire, which is only 30 minutes, and there are quite a number of magnificent houses with grounds, a couple of which I have been to already, including Belton Woods and Grantham. I am yet to get to Woolsthorpe Manor, a cottage which was the home of Isaac Newton, and includes an exhibition and interactive science discovery centre. Derbyshire also has plenty of fine property and outdoor space to explore, and so far I have made it to Sudbury Hall and Gardens, which is a wonderful property, and the adjacent Museum of Childhood.
The trust itself probably needs no introduction. It is of course a registered charity formed in 1895 and relies on its subscriptions, entrance fees and the goodwill of its many volunteers to care for the properties, land and coastline in its care.
As well as the freebies that you will most likely obtain on joining, you will get a comprehensive Members Handbook, detailing all the properties by region and this includes opening hours and regional maps. This is a convenient Handbook for the car, in case you want to do something spontaneously. Typically membership cards are received within six weeks, and if you wish to visit any properties meantime you will be issued a temporary membership card when you join. With joint membership, joint cards are issued for each member, showing the name, but technically there is no reason why this could not be passed to another family member (well everyone does it!). There is also a magazine which is received several times a year to keep you up to date with special events.
There are reciprocal agreements with other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, Italy, Canada and even Bermuda which I am journeying to in just a few weeks time, so hopefully I can save myself a few entry fees even over there.
Given that you only have to visit about seven properties, with an average entry fee of £5 each, and you will have recouped the full annual membership costs, then I don't doubt that the membership is excellent value for money. I have recouped my fee already within two months of rejoining, and I did not benefit from the 25% discounts that are available.
Of course, if you join now, then you will probably not get much benefit from membership until March next year, when most properties are open again, but even if there are NT parks and grounds near you that typically charge a fee, then you can start to make savings during the winter. There are also seasonal events, when the homes are opened again. I love visiting Museums particularly those of historical importance, as well as some of the beautiful countryside and coastline e.g. at Hadrian's Wall, Lindisfarne and Lundy. I think taking out membership has meant I can enjoy more of these wonderful monuments than I otherwise would, and I think most people will get good value from their membership, while at the same time contributing to such a worthy and important national charity.
Hardwick Hall/Stainsby Mill
These are situated at Stainsby near Holmewood, just off jnc 29 of the M1 and Hardwick Hall is clearly visible from the Motorway.
Hardwick Hall, a National Trust property, is near Stainsby Mill, another National Trust site, which is a former flourmill reopened for the public.
If visiting Stainsby Mill, there is very limited parking available on a country lane and if you park in Hardwick Hall for this site, you have a long downhill trek to the Mill and of course a long uphill trek back to the car.
There is a Heritage bus most weekends in the summer (price about £5) which takes you between several interesting sites around in the area including Stainsby Mill and Hardwick Hall. You can get the bus at one of these sites and get off at another then get back on the bus to return to the original site to get back to the car. I have not yet tried it but would love to do so.
The main car park for Hardwick Hall is a field next to the property. There is usually people directing traffic into parking spaces and there are toilets in the car park area. In addition, there is usually an icecream or other type of food stall outside the property in the car park area.
Picnics are allowed but I believe that no food is allowed in the house.
English Heritage/National Trust members are allowed to park for free, all other visitors must pay the parking fee at the entrance to the long drive. English Heritage members are allowed to park free as the Old Hall is an English Heritage site.
Visitors get a reduced ticket if they produce their English Heritage/National Trust ticket at the alternative site. When I last went as an EH member, I got a pound knocked off the NT price. However, I have now joined NT, too.
Hardwick Inn, a restaurant on the edge of Hardwick Halls estate, and there is a café in the New Halls kitchen area.
Dogs are not allowed on site to the best of my knowledge, but check before travelling.
Stone Centre, this was not open last time we went so I can not comment on it, but should be open this year.
Hardwick Old Hall
This is the English Heritage building and is a ruin. It was discarded by Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewbury, when the New Hall was ready.
Hardwick New Hall
This is the National Trust building and has literally thousands of windows. It was built by Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewbury.
A former flourmill opened to the public, this costs a couple of pounds (cant remember exactly how much) each to enter. It is a working flourmill and still has a working water wheel. It is very small and can be seen in about an hour to 2 hours. Quite interesting for the children though.
As a National Trust member, I do not pay as I pay £60 for a joint ticket for the year for my boyfriend and me.
However, I believe that the price is pretty reasonable. When I went as an EH member, it was £12.95 for adults, which I got a pound knocked off, and cheaper for children/concessionaries but this is just for the New Hall, it is more expensive for a combined ticket to see both halls and it would be a shame to miss the Old Hall site.
The English Heritage site has an audio tour of the ruined building and associated buildings, which is extremely interesting.
1. Good for children plenty to keep them occupied
2. Several sites in one little area
3. Have various events during half term/summer holidays to bring history to life. When we went they were holding a WW2 games session in the garden area.
1. If you are not a NT or EH member, it can get quite expensive.
2. No audio tour in the NT building, although there are plenty of guides to ask information from.
We joined the National Trust and got our entrance fee back. It was very easy to join. They provided us with a pack of information and our copy of the form was proof of purchase (in case we wanted to visit other places before our cards arrived - which were very prompt). A handbook and loads of leaflets were included in the pack, and we received a magazine. This comes every quarter along with a newsletter for your area (in my case Midlands), which has a list of "local" events in the surrounding counties. This is very useful for planning where to visit and keep you up to date with local events/projects.
MORE INFORMATION FROM
The National Trust website www.nationaltrust.org.uk