When you visit the UK or come to live here permanently you will soon realise that people here have a big love for preserving historic houses and gardens, art collections, coastlines and the countryside in general. Spending a day out at a stately home or a nature reserve is a popular thing to do for families, seniors and young people alike. The countryside in Great Britain is stunningly beautiful indeed and there is a huge variety of historic places to visit.
National Trust membership
So, what if you paid one fee that allowed you to visit more than 500 of these historic houses and gardens in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland? That is exactly what the National Trust offers its members with a yearly or even lifetime membership. The National Trust is a charity that preserves places of historic interest and natural beauty for everyone to enjoy forever. It relies for income on membership fees, donation, legacies and revenue raised from commercial operations. Membership for an adult (26+ years) is £64.80 a year but you can also sign up with a partner or a whole family and benefit from a slightly cheaper fee per person. Average standard admission for an adult is £13, so the annual membership already pays off if you visit more than five National Trust properties a year.
There is a similar organisation called English Heritage that manages over 400 of England’s historic buildings, monuments and sites, for example Stonehenge and the best preserved parts of Hadrian’s Wall. Annual membership for adults (19+ years) is £54, but as the name says you can only visit historic places in England.
National Trust property Anglesey Abbey in Cambridge
Just a few miles outside Cambridge you can find Anglesey Abbey which is a National Trust property. This Jacobean-style house has extensive gardens and a historic water mill which is still in working order.
I went to visit Anglesey Abbey in May when the roses had just started to blossom. There are flower-themed events all year round, for example the snowdrop season in February or the Dahlia Festival in September. It’s also a great place to visit with children as all the walks are pushchair friendly.
The house itself is mainly the work of one man: Lord Fairhaven, the son of an American oil family. He purchased Anglesey Abbey in 1926, remodelled the interior and accumulated beautiful furniture, artworks and statuary. The country-gentleman enjoyed a life that revolved around horse racing, shooting, collecting fine art and entertaining. He gifted Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust upon his death in 1966.
He also restored the water mill to its original corn milling condition in 1934-35. It is still working today and you can buy freshly ground flour direct from the shop in the visitor centre.
The gardens at Anglesey Abbey are lovely to have a wander. During the winter months you can enjoy a stroll through the Winter Garden with Himalayan silver birches. In spring there are hyacinths in the Formal Garden, summer is the time for roses and the Woodland Path is great to explore habitats, dens and artistic structures.
If you are a fan of historical sites and natural reserves and plan to visit lots of them while you live in the UK, I would recommend getting a National Trust membership. For some places, for example coastlines, there is no direct admission but a fee for the car park, so you could also save the money for a pay and display ticket.
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