National Trust founded
The 12th of January 1895 AD
To give the organisation its full title, The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, is to summarise its goals. It was a child of the end of Victoria 's era: the creation of wealthy gentlefolk with a heart, faced with a society where the poor had a bleak existence, and industry and development was swallowing so much of the national and natural heritage.
There were some forerunners to the National Trust : the Kyrle Society, formed 20 years previously, was devoted to improving the lives of the working class, its slogan "Bring beauty home to the poor." The Commons Preservation Society predated that by a considerable time, with its aim to keep open spaces available for the enjoyment of all. And the Lake District Defence Society, its remit obviously more regional, but providing a model for those who sought to prevent the destruction of our heritage.
There were three great movers in the formation of the National Trust: Octavia Hill ; Robert Hunter; and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley . Hill had links via her sister to the Kyrle Society, and was a social reformer of tremendous stature; Hunter was honorary solicitor to the Commons Preservation Society, and had worked with Hill to prevent the loss of Sayes Court in Deptford when it was offered to the nation; and Rawnsley was dedicated to stopping the despoiling of the Lake District.
In 1895 the National Trust was formed, and the following year it made its first purchase, Alfriston Clergy House in East Sussex . Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire was its first open land buy. Dear to Rawnsley's heart was the securing of Brandlehow Park in the Lakes.
From the little acorn of three volunteers (and the little acorn sign of the organisation taken from a cornice in Alfriston Clergy House) the trust has grown massively, still with a backbone of unpaid volunteers - now nearly 50,000 of them - as well as paid staff. And it has preserved some magnificent properties and sites for the nation, annual membership being money well spent.
Links: http://nationaltrustmemberships.at/informationbritain?CTY=3&CID= National Trust Membership
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