15th
Oct
2013

Posted in Kafevend Blog

I've spoken to three people in recent weeks who, when talking about their summer outings, have extolled the virtues of  National Trust tearooms. The tea, the coffee and particularly the Victoria sponge is of a quality you would expect from such a venerable institution. So how and when did it all begin?

Three individuals were responsible for the inception of the National Trust on 12th January 1895. The Social reformer Octavia Hill spent her life working with the urban poor, developing social housing and trying to protect tracts of countryside for their benefit. Sir Robert Hunter, already a solicitor for the Commons Preservation Society, shared Octavia Hill's social conscience and provided useful legal know-how too. The third member of the group was Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, a clergyman in the Lake District and also a conservationist. The trio came to the conclusion that something was  needed to protect  buildings and open spaces for the public, for the purpose of both recreation and education and decided to form a land company specifically to that end, which of course was named the National Trust.

Today it is the UK's largest private society dedicated to the preservation of heritage. Thus, while English Heritage is government funded, the National Trust has always had to find alternative means of funding. An early example is provided by the acquisition of Brandelhow Park Estate in the Lake District, on the shores of Derwent water in 1902. The land was offered to the fledgling Trust if it could find the asking price of £6,500. Appeal leaflets went out to factory workers of major cities in the north and it was with the help of rich and poor alike that the land was soon bought. One Sheffield factory worker who responded with what he could afford explained that,
“All my life I have longed to see the Lakes. I shall never see them now, but I should like to help keep them for others.”
That's a sentiment worth keeping in mind next time you visit a National Trust property.

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