National Treasures of Wales – Coastal Care: Griff Rhys Jones discovers how the National Trust looks after some of Wales’s national treasures. He begins with the 157 miles of coastline it owns and cares for.
Surprisingly, the National Trust started in Wales. Griff Rhys Jones discovers how the Trust deals with the complexities and conflicts involved in looking after some of Wales’s best-loved national treasures. He begins The National Treasures of Wales series with the 157 miles of coastline owned and cared for by the Trust in Wales.
Griff investigates its roots in Barmouth, discovers how the tiny cove of Mwnt copes with the impact of the modern world and considers the difficulties they face in deciding the fate of a medieval village on the Gower Peninsula which is in the process of being claimed by the sea.
National Treasures of Wales – Coastal Care
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, commonly known as the National Trust, is a charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, there is a separate and independent National Trust for Scotland.
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The Trust was founded in 1895 by Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley to “promote the permanent preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest”. It was given statutory powers, starting with the National Trust Act 1907. Historically, the Trust acquired land by gift and sometimes by public subscription and appeal, but after World War II the loss of country houses resulted in many such properties being acquired either by gift from the former owners, or through the National Land Fund.
Country houses and estates still make up a significant part of its holdings, but it is also known for its protection of wild landscapes such as in the Lake District and Peak District. As well as the great estates of titled families, it has acquired smaller houses including some whose significance is not architectural but through their association with famous people, for example the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. One of the largest landowners in the United Kingdom, the Trust owns over 248,000 hectares (610,000 acres; 2,480 km2; 960 sq mi) of land and 780 miles of coast.
Its properties include over 500 historic houses, castles, archaeological and industrial monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves. Most properties are open to the public for a charge (members have free entry), while open spaces are free to all.
National Trust Founders
The Trust was incorporated on 12 January 1895. The founders were social reformer Octavia Hill, solicitor Sir Robert Hunter and clergyman Hardwicke Rawnsley.
In 1876, Hill, together with her sister Miranda Hill had set up a society to “diffuse a love of beautiful things among our poor brethren”. Named after John Kyrle, the Kyrle Society campaigned for open spaces for the recreational use of urban dwellers, as well as having decorative, musical and literary branches. Hunter had been solicitor to the Commons Preservation Society, while Rawnsley had campaigned for the protection of the Lake District. The idea of a company with the power to acquire and hold buildings and land had been mooted by Hunter in 1894.
In July 1894 a provisional council, headed by Hill, Hunter, Rawnsley and the Duke of Westminster met at Grosvenor House and decided that the company should be named the National Trust for places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. Articles of association were submitted to the Board of Trade and on 12 July 1895 the Trust was registered under the Companies Act. Its purpose was to “promote the permanent preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest”.
National Trust Founders – Funding – National Treasures of Wales
For the year ended 28 February 2019, total income of the Trust was £634.3 million. The largest sources of income were membership subscriptions (£243.4 million), income from investments (£192.1 million), direct property income (£186.4 million), and legacies (£66.5 million). In addition, the Trust received money (£39.2 million), from its commercial arm, National Trust Enterprises Ltd, which undertakes profit-making activities such as running gift shops and restaurants at Trust properties. The Trust also received £17.6 million in grants, including £5.2 million from Natural England, £4.8 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and £2.6 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Mwnt – National Treasures of Wales
Mwnt is an ancient parish in Ceredigion, Wales, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north of Cardigan. The Wales Coast Path passes through this very small settlement. It gets its name from the prominent steep conical hill (Foel y Mwnt), a landmark from much of Cardigan Bay, that rises above the beach to a height of 76 m (249 ft), and was formerly anglicised as Mount.
Mwnt is known for its popular beach which has been awarded a Green Coast Award (an award similar to a Blue Flag beach Award but for rural beaches). Swimming conditions are considered safe at Mwnt but there is no lifeguard service. The Irish Sea off Mwnt is rich in wildlife, being a regular summer home to dolphins, seals and porpoises.