National Treasures of Wales – Farms episode 3: The National Trust started in Wales. Griff Rhys Jones examines how it manages its farmland and tenanted farms across the country, beginning in Pembrokeshire with the Trust’s latest bequest, Treleddyd Fawr – the most painted and photographed cottage in Wales. Griff discusses the daunting restoration work facing National Trust building surveyor Nathan Goss.
Through this derelict farm worker’s cottage, as well as a working farm producing potatoes sold under National Trust branding and a farm which no longer farms but instead operates as a children’s adventure camp, Griff explores the variety of ways in which the Trust approaches its guardianship of farms and farmland.
National Treasures of Wales – Farms episode 3
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.