On January 12th, 1895, The National Trust was founded by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Hill believed in the importance of open spaces for Londoners so that they could ‘feel a refreshing air for a little time and to see the sun setting in coloured glory which abounds so in the Earth God made’. She believed that ‘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.’

In 2020, the National Trust has grown to nearly six million members and look after more than ‘250,000 hectares of farmland, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic places, gardens and nature reserves.’

The current Director-General, Hilary McGrady, divides the history of the National Trust into different chapters. At the start, the focus was on ‘securing common land and beautiful landscapes in response to industrialisation’. The next chapter’s aim was to secure for the Nation the country houses which were ‘being demolished every five days’ after the Second World War. Then the objective shifted to ‘the threat to the coastline of over-development from industry and the growth of the seaside economy’ while the fourth chapter has focused on people. With ‘the threat of the climate crisis and the catastrophic decline in our natural environment’ McGrady foresees that the next stage will be to connect people to Nature. Read more about her vision here

The National Trust has lots of events planned for this year from ‘tree planting, river and beach cleaning, to dancing in the great outdoors.’



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