On this day in 1895 the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty (‘National Trust’), a conservation society, was founded in the United Kingdom. It operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They own many historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments and social history sites. The Trust was founded on 12th January 1894 by Octavia Hill, Robert Hunter, and Hardwicke Rawnsley. They were originally concerned with protecting open spaces and a variety of threatened buildings. Its first property was Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex, purchased in 1896 for £10. Its first nature reserve was Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire in 1899. Its first archaeological monument was White Barrow in Wiltshire, a Neolithic long barrow (an earthmound considered a collective tomb), in 1909 for £60.
The National Trust continues to operate today to preserve Britain’s past, and its sites attract thousands of visitors. Its sites include Sutton Hoo (two 6th and early 7th century burial sites in Suffolk), St. Michael’s Mount off the coast of Cornwall, and 251 Menlove Avenue & 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool (childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney respectively).
The National Trust is a crucial part of British heritage. The accessibility of its sites encourages members of the public, with little prior interest in history, to find an interest they never knew they had. The Trust also ensures that places of natural beauty remain untouched. As a Brit myself, I feel very lucky to have an organisation like the National Trust working to ensure that our country’s history is preserved for posterity.