English Heritage or the National Trust?

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 11:23 am

English Heritage or National TrustPeople often compare the relative merits of Britain’s two largest membership heritage organisations, the National Trust and English Heritage.  In fact, there are several heritage organisations in the United Kingdom that offer membership, the main ones being Cadw, Historic Houses, Historic Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland – as well as English Heritage and the National Trust.  The Big Six.  The chief benefit of joining one or more of these bodies is free access to the properties they own or manage. It’s not really free of course, because you’ve paid for the privilege by being a member. But if you visit more than a few properties in a year, it quickly pays for itself and there are other benefits too.

Burghley HouseA brand new page has been added to A Bit About Britain, which summarises the principal benefits of and differences between Cadw, English Heritage, Historic Houses, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland.  My loyal reader will find which is the best heritage organisation to join by clicking or tapping the link, or from the main menu under places to visit.

As you will see, there is much more to it than deciding between English Heritage or the National Trust.

If you’re looking at membership, I hope it helps.

39 thoughts on “English Heritage or the National Trust?”

  1. To call the volunteers of the National Trust “pompous and irritating” ignores the efforts many of them make to be rude and downright offensive. We left the NT thirty years ago because of this, rejoined a couple of years ago and found much the same.

    And before you ask, no, we don’t find this at other places and in other organisations to which we belong. 🙂

  2. We joined Historic Scotland a few years ago and have been debating whether to rejoin or give National Trust a go instead this year. Or whether to invest in a lifetime membership of one of them! Tough choice.

  3. Hi Mike – thanks for this informative post … We’re lucky these organisations have been created/founded for our benefit and to ensure that the amazing history contained by many properties are conserved for future generations. Things have definitely upped themselves in the last few years … places are wonderful to look at and learn more about. They depend so much on volunteers. I’ve yet to visit Chartwell … better make a plan soon(ish)! Was at Standen on Tuesday … cheers Hilary

  4. Thank you! I am going to check out the link in a minute. Most of the places I have been visiting in Yorkshire over the years are National Trust, with some others still managed by the families that own them and live there. I don‘t know much about the organisations and so I am looking forward to learning more.

  5. artandarchitecturemainly

    The National Trusts of Australia have reciprocal visiting arrangements with the same heritage organisation in the UK. Australian National Trust members can be admitted freely to a British National Trust site on production of the relevant membership card.

    I REALLY value my membership and used it often, pre-Covid

  6. Thanks, Mike. When we head back next year (I hope) I plan to join at least one of these before leaving so we can take advantage of things. Even if we don’t, it’s a good way to support the historic preservation.

  7. I know it doesn’t quite enter into the spirit of the thing, but if you’re strapped for cash the most economical way of visiting National trust properties in England is to join the National Trust for Scotland. I’ve done it twice – and it works, but I notice the price differences have come a bit closer together in your latest figures. Your link is a first class post Mike. Excellent!

  8. I’m in English Heritage and the National Trust and up until last year and always got more than my money’s worth, can’t wait to start visiting places again.

  9. I’ve been a member of English Heritage for years. I love how knowledgeable their staff are and I appreciate their willingness to chat about their own and other sites.

  10. Very informative Mike. We have been members of National Trust for many years and have always got more than our monies worth however, when we lived in Dover, we chose to sign up to English Heritage for the duration as that gave better value down South!

  11. I just checked out your link – so comprehensive and useful, but I’m not surprised. I will look into the Royal Oak foundation prior to our (hopefully) upcoming trip to England…

  12. That was very helpful. If Iever manage to get back to the U.K., when these boobies have sorted their act out, I will take a look at the limited membership arrangements

  13. Well that was all very interesting and informative. And if you can’t trust Bill Bryson, whom can you trust?! I’d say the Historic Houses and English Heritage appeal most to me. Thanks for the post. Now that I’ve finally got them directed to my new email address, you might see me stalking you.

  14. It’s a very interesting and informative article Mike, and with great photos too. I love the shot of Conwy Castle, I have one very similar which I took three years ago 🙂

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