It’s “Fruitful Way to Think About Your Visit”
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually referred to as just the National Trust, is a conservation organization in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own independent National Trust for Scotland).
The National Trust is one of the largest landowners in the UK, looking after for more than 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments as well as forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves and villages. Most of these are open to the public free of charge. With four million members and 55,000 volunteers, it is the largest membership organization in the UK, and one of the largest UK charities by both income and assets.
The Trust sees its mission as working “to preserve and protect the coastline, countryside and buildings of England, Wales and Northern Ireland … through practical caring and conservation, through educating and informing, and through encouraging millions of people to enjoy their national heritage.” If you’re planning a flight to the London, even if you’re expecting to stay in London the entire time, browsing the Trust’s website for places to go and things to do would be an especially fruitful way to think about your visit.
Within the Greater London area, there are eight National Trust sites. All are worth visiting. Here’s a list of these treasured properties along with the Trust’s description of them.
24 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London SW3 5HL
Preserved since 1895, this writer’s house in the heart of one of London’s most famous creative quarters tells the story of Thomas and Jane Carlyle. The couple moved here from their native Scotland in 1834 and became an unusual but much-loved celebrity couple of the 19th-century literary world.
Hampstead Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 6SP
This charming 17th-century merchant’s house has remained virtually unaltered during more than 300 years of continuous occupation, while the large garden is also remarkably unchanged since it was described in 1756 as ‘pleasant… well planted with fruit-trees, and a kitchen garden, all inclos’d with a substantial brick wall’. Lady Katherine Binning bought the house in 1936 and filled it with her highly decorative collections of porcelain, Georgian furniture and 17th-century needlework. The sound of early keyboard instruments and the colours of early 20th-century drawings and paintings add to a captivating experience.
Ham Street, Ham, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey TW10 7RS
A 400-year-old treasure trove waiting to be discovered and one of a series of grand houses and palaces alongside the River Thames. Ham House and Garden is an unusually complete survival of the 17th century that impressed in its day and continues to do so today. Rich in history and atmosphere, Ham is largely the vision of Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart, who was deeply embroiled in the politics of the English Civil War and subsequent restoration of the monarchy. Discover the fine interiors and historic gardens that make Ham an unusual and fascinating place to visit.
Morden Hall Park
Morden Hall Park, Morden Hall Road, London, SM4 5JD
A green oasis in suburbia giving you a taste of a country estate with a glimpse of agricultural and industrial history. This tranquil former deer park is one of the few remaining estates that lined the River Wandle during its industrial heyday. The river meanders through the park creating a haven for wildlife while the snuff mills, which generated the park’s fortunes, still survive – with the western mill having been renovated into an Environmental Education Centre. A much-loved rural idyll. The park lies in a built-up area, and some of the surviving estate buildings are used as workshops by local craftspeople and artisans.
Osterley Park and House
Jersey Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 4RB
With a spectacular mansion surrounded by gardens, park and farmland, Osterley is one of the last surviving country estates in London. Once described as ‘the palace of palaces’, Osterley was created in the late 18th century by architect and designer Robert Adam for the Child family to entertain and impress their friends and clients. Today you can explore the dazzling interior with handheld audio-visual guides, which bring the house to life in a completely new way. Outside the gardens are a delightful retreat from urban life and the park is perfect for picnics and leisurely strolls.
Red House Lane, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8JF
The only house commissioned, created and lived in by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, Red House is a building of extraordinary architectural and social significance. When it was completed in 1860, it was described by Edward Burne-Jones as ‘the beautifullest place on earth’. Only recently acquired by the Trust, the house is not fully furnished, but the original features and furniture by Morris and Philip Webb, stained glass and paintings by Burne-Jones, the bold architecture and a garden designed to ‘clothe the house’ add up to a fascinating and rewarding place to visit.
2 and 4 Homerton High Street, Hackney, London E9 6JQ
Built in 1535 by prominent courtier of Henry VIII, Sir Ralph Sadleir, Sutton House retains much of the atmosphere of a Tudor home despite some alterations by later occupants, including a succession of merchants, Huguenot silkweavers and squatters. With oak-panelled rooms, original carved fireplaces and a charming courtyard.
2 Willow Road
2 Willow Road, Hampstead, London NW3 1TH
This unique Modernist home was designed by architect Ernö Goldfinger in 1939 for himself and his family. With surprising design details that were groundbreaking at the time and still feel fresh today, the house also contains the Goldfingers’ impressive collection of modern art, intriguing personal possessions and innovative furniture.
Seattleites looking to get their ‘National’ on can do so with today’s travel deal, Seattle to London, round-trip for $924, that includes taxes, be sure to use PROMO code SM17 to take up to $17 off service fees.
Photo: Chris Osburn