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The National Trust

The purpose of the National Trust is to protect special places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for everyone, for ever.

It was founded in 1895 by Miss Octavia Hill, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Sir Robert Hunter, three philanthropists who were concerned about the effects of urbanization upon Britain's heritage.

The National Trust became the guardian in the protection and acquisition of Britain's coastline, countryside and buildings.

After just over a century, it is now responsible for an impressive 215 buildings and gardens, 40 castles, 76 nature reserves, 12 lighthouses, 43 inns, 254, 000 hectares (627, 000 acres) of countryside and 709 miles of coastline.

Croome Park (c)NTPL / David Noton
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All these properties must be maintained and the work is done by conservation staff and volunteers. Their work covers everything from Samurai armour and the national collection of lawnmowers to valuable works of art by J.M.W.Turner.

Most of these sites are open to the public, and some are free to enjoy. The admission fees at other sites go to support the work of this independent charity.

Membership of the National Trust now numbers 3.6 million and their subscriptions go to supporting the ongoing work of the National Trust. It also entitles members to regular information and free access to the properties. Membership also makes a great gift!

Other income is derived from donations, legacies and businesses,

Bodiam Castle (c)NTPL / Matthew Antrobus
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which include shops and restaurants at some National Trust properties, and the letting of holiday homes.

More than 50 million visitors enjoyed visiting a National Trust property in 2008. Their visits may have been to stately homes such as the magnificent Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, or the more modest 16-sided house in Exmouth called A La Ronde.

Beauty spots such as Lyford Gorge and Ulverscroft Nature Reserve are maintained by the National Trust and are enjoyed by all ages. From historic Roman baths to Horsey Windpump, a charming windmill, hundreds of Britain's best loved beauty spots are managed by the National Trust, providing great days out wherever you live.

As well as focusing on conservation, heritage and education, the National Trust puts on a busy calendar of events throughout the year. Organised country walks, snowdrop days and summer concerts can be found around the country.

The National Trust also organises farmer's markets, Easter trails, Halloween fun and Christmas festivities. Corfe Castle has a Jester's day on April Fool's Day while Trelissick Gardens near Truro has an Easter egg trail, competitions, face painting and storytellers, so you are never too young to enjoy a National Trust property!

Barrington Court (c)NTPL / Neil Campbell-Sharp
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The National Trust tea rooms and restaurants are legendary and while you are enjoying a lunch or cream tea, rest assured you are also contributing to this worthwhile charity.

The National Trust shops are also an important part of your day out. They pride themselves on providing unique and useful gifts which relate to the Trust's magnificent homes and gardens.

Next time you want a pleasant day out, head for your local National Trust property and know that while you are having a great experience, you are also helping to continue the work of this worthwhile national charity.

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