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Celebrating 125 years of the National Trust which offers things to do near Rutland, Stamford, Bourne, the Deepings and Grantham




As Europe’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust has been nurturing nature, our landscapes and history for the whole nation for 125 years. As the trust marks its anniversary, Angela Cole looks at its past, present and near future, which affects - and helps - us all

In an increasingly busy, digital world, there’s one thing we can all agree on - we all need nature.

Who doesn’t want to get out into the crisp air on a winter’s day; to see the first fragrant blossom of the spring, or look out over a glorious view after a refreshing walk?

Children taking a close look at the wildlife on a fallen tree trunk at a garden in spring
Children taking a close look at the wildlife on a fallen tree trunk at a garden in spring

Whether we need nature for our own wellbeing, or for the wellbeing of our climate, the National Trust has been there, looking out for it on our behalf, for 125 years, along with its work to preserve and conserve our historical buildings.

And, as it marks its anniversary, it has big plans for the nation as a whole.

This year, a series of new initiatives will see the beginning of planting and establishing of 20 million new trees in 10 years. More than 18,000 hectares of woodland – an area the size of 42 Sherwood Forests - will be created.

Playing in the woods. Photo: Chris Lacey/ National Trust
Playing in the woods. Photo: Chris Lacey/ National Trust

Across the country, the trust also plans to maintain precious peat bogs; unlock green spaces near urban areas and lead a year-long campaign to inspire people to engage with nature.

It will also continue its work to reverse the decline in nature through projects including helping clean up the nation’s rivers and waterways, re-introducing species and re-purposing land in favour of woodland.

Research has shown that people who walk through woodland are more likely to have increased mental wellbeing and physical health, so the trust wants to boost public access to as much woodland as possible.

The trust’s director general, Hilary McGrady, said: “It’s our 125th year and the National Trust has always been here for the benefit of everyone.

National Trust director general Hilary McGrady. Photo: National Trust Images
National Trust director general Hilary McGrady. Photo: National Trust Images

“As Europe’s biggest conservation charity, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to fight climate change, which poses the biggest threat to the places, nature and collections we care for.

“People need nature now more than ever. If they connect with it then they look after it.”

There will be a year-long campaign to inspire and connect people to their natural environment, from tree planting, to river cleaning, birdwatching, picnics in the wild, cloud watching, painting, writing, walking and foraging, plus a celebration of Britain’s very own blossom season.”

Pond-dipping at Wicken Fen. Photo: John Millar/National Trust Images/PA
Pond-dipping at Wicken Fen. Photo: John Millar/National Trust Images/PA

According to research carried out by the National Trust, two thirds of us say they never or almost never listen to birdsong and less than a third say they stop to watch clouds or bees.

As Andy Beer, director of the trust’s Midlands region, says: “When it comes to nature, you can choose to notice it or you can choose not to.

“I always think, it is like Tinkerbell - if people don’t believe in her, she disappears. If people don’t care about beautiful places, then they will disappear. Beautiful places should just make you go “aaah”; you should feel it. We help to keep them as special and nice as we can - that is what we at the National Trust offer the nation. Places where you can relax and spend quality time with your friends.”

National Trust logo
National Trust logo

Andy has written Everyday Nature, which is published in April (at £12.99), a companion to help you make the most of nature on your doorstep. He shows how it’s everywhere, even in the most dense concrete jungle. His book contains an entry for every day of the year.

“This time of year, it might be seeing snowdrops, or hearing the great tits shouting “teacher, teacher” - that’s their call.

“They are out there singing, finding a mate. I heard that this morning as I walked past the park to the office.”

Find out more about the National Trust

  • In 1980 the National Trust had one million members; by 1995 it had topped three million and it expects to welcome its six millionth member in 2020.
  • The trust plans - by cutting its own emissions and storing more carbon - to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
  • Its woodland expansion plans means 17 per cent of land it cares for will be covered in woodland – an increase from the current 10 per cent.
  • Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 41 per cent since 1970, according to the State of Nature report. The trust has had several wildlife re-introduction schemes, including water voles, butterflies and harvest mice. This year it will introduce beavers to Somerset and the South Downs.
  • As well as commitments to the environment, the trust also has some £2.2m a week planned for restoration work to the country’s heritage and culture this year.

The National Trust in and around Lincolnshire

There are several National Trust sites in the area and a short drive away elsewhere in Lincolnshire.

Lyveden, Oundle: Begun by Sir Thomas Tresham to symbolise his Catholic faith, Lyveden is a remarkable survivor of the Elizabethan age - but remains incomplete and virtually unaltered since work stopped on his death in 1605. There are tranquil moats, viewing terraces and an Elizabethan orchard to explore, as well as an enigmatic garden lodge covered in religious symbols.

Currently, the National Trust is carrying out a project to bring the manor building back into use so so you can travel through the landscape just as Sir Thomas intended his visitors to see Lyveden; and to add new facilities including a cafe. Lyveden is due to reopen in the Spring.

Lyveden, Oundle
Lyveden, Oundle

Belton House, Grantham: a Grade I-listed country house built in the 1680s for Sir John Brownlow. Visitors can take a tour of the house, where there is a number of impressive collections of paintings, silverware and porcelain. Its parkland covers 1,300 acres and is home to around 300 fallow deer. A large adventure play area, indoor play area, Discovery Centre and restaurant make it popular with families.

Belton House
Belton House

Priest’s House, Easton-on-the-Hill: One of the National Trust’s smallest buildings, the Priest’s House was built by John Stokes, Rector of Easton from 1456 until he died in 1495. Stokes left money for a chantry priest to pray for his soul. The priest could have lived here until 1545 and subsequently the house was used as a school. In 1868 the Victorian architect, Sir Thomas Jackson, made alterations to the building, as well as designing the adjacent coach house. The building contains many interesting architectural features and houses a comprehensive exhibition on the mining and preparation of Collyweston slates, an important industry unique to the locality, but now defunct. The building is manned every Sunday afternoon during June, July and August. Access can be obtained by contacting one of the nearby keyholders shown on the building notice board between 10am and 5pm.

Priest's House, Easton-on-the-Hill
Priest's House, Easton-on-the-Hill

Grantham House, Grantham: a 14th century town house with a riverside walled garden, in Castlegate. The house is currently closed while it opening hours "undergo change".

Grantham House opened in 2019 during Heritage Open Days
Grantham House opened in 2019 during Heritage Open Days

Woolsthorpe Manor, Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth: an early 17th-century yeoman's farmhouse and the birthplace of Isaac Newton, who is said to have come up with his theory of gravity when he saw an apple fall from a tree in the orchard. The manor tells the story of Newton's time at Woolsthorpe, from his birth and childhood to the discoveries of his Year of Wonders. A hands-on science centre keeps visitors busy, while a short walk takes them to the village church where he was baptised.

Woolsthorpe Manor
Woolsthorpe Manor

Tattershall Castle, Tattershall: a 15th century red brick castle which features Gothic fireplaces and church-like windows. It was built by Lord Ralph Cromwell, a former Treasurer of England, to show off his wealth, position and power. Visitors can take a multimedia or guided tour delivered by knowledgeable volunteers.

Tattershall Castle
Tattershall Castle

The Workhouse, Southwell: a Victorian workshouse built in 1824 as a place of last resort for the destitute. The trust says its architecture was influenced by prison design and its harsh regime became a blueprint for workhouses throughout the country.

The Workhouse, Southwell
The Workhouse, Southwell

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