• 31 houses and over 135 gardens and parklands now open, with more being added each week
• Charity reaches five million visits since reopening in June
• Trust thanks members and visitors for their support and patience
• Houses opening in coming week include Montacute in Somerset, Lanhydrock in Cornwall and Buckland Abbey in Devon.
The National Trust has welcomed its five millionth visit to its houses and gardens, as it opens even more of its historic places to the public this week. The conservation charity hit the milestone in September, as people continued to enjoy exploring local attractions and cultural venues during the summer months.
Having closed in March, the Trust has been steadily reopening its places with a series of new safety measures to manage capacity and social distancing, including a booking system, new one-way routes through its houses and gardens and increased hygiene procedures.
Thirty-one of the Trust’s houses and over 135 gardens and parklands are now open, with more set to unlock their doors in the coming week.
John Orna-Ornstein, Director of Culture and Engagement at the National Trust, said: “Reaching five million visits this summer feels like a big milestone.
“We know how important culture, nature, and places of beauty are to our members and supporters, and that’s why it was so sad to have to close our gates, but when the Government guidance changed, we started the process of reopening as quickly and as safely as possible.
“We’re reopening more every day and we’re so grateful to our members and visitors for their support and patience. We’re listening to their feedback and always looking at ways to make booking and visiting easier.
“What has been really heartening is seeing families reuniting after months of lockdown, people returning to their favourite property – or discovering one for the first time – and members getting their fix of culture, history and the outdoors.
“Every person through our doors is helping to look after these historic buildings, collections and gardens, and to make sure we can carry out state-of-the-art conservation projects.”
The Trust began reopening its gardens and parklands in June, with over 135 now open for visits.
John continued: “Because of the lockdown we’ve had fewer staff and volunteers to tend to the miles of borders, orchards and lawns we look after at the Trust, so we’ve had to focus on key conservation tasks such as caring for rare and historically important plants.
“But while our places may look a little different from normal, our teams have been using all their skills and creativity to give visitors the best possible displays in these challenging times.”
The charity’s houses began to open on 13 July with a pilot scheme to test the challenges of opening a range of different types of properties over the coming months.
An advanced booking system is in place with tickets combining access to the house and gardens. Due to limits on capacity, it may not be possible for everyone to access the house during their visit.
Cafes too have been welcoming back visitors, with 194 now open, and 100 shops.
“We’ve also reopened a number of our play areas, lots of outdoor nature trails, the majority of our holiday cottages and campsites, and all our car parks at the coast and countryside,” added John.
“We look forward to welcoming more of our members and supporters back this autumn to both existing favourites and new places to explore.”
Newly opening National Trust houses in the South West
1. Montacute House, Somerset
A masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design, with towering walls of glass, glowing ham stone and surrounding garden – Montacute House was built in the late 16th century for Sir Edward Phelips, lawyer and Speaker of the House of Commons. The opulent interiors include the Long Gallery – the longest surviving Elizabethan gallery in England at 52 metres.
This Somerset estate also played host films including Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Wolf Hall (2015).
Booking: Garden, Estate, Shop and Cafe open. House reopens 17 September. Pre-book: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/montacute-house
2. Buckland Abbey, Devon
The Abbey is part museum, part house, and filled with treasures. It’s 700-year history takes in the Cistercians who built the Abbey and farmed the estate, to seafarers Sir Roger Grenville and Sir Francis Drake. The Great Barn was used for the storage and winnowing of corn and is today home to a cider press, a reminder of the 27 acres of orchards that once stretched down to the river.
Booking: Garden, Estate, Restaurant, Shop and Abbey (ground floor) open. First floor reopens 14 September. Pre-book: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey
3. Lanhydrock, Cornwall
Lanhydrock is a late Victorian country home surrounded by extensive gardens and ancient woodland. After a devastating fire in 1881, the Jacobean house was refurbished in high-Victorian style, with the best in country house design and planning and the latest mod-cons including central heating systems and fire hydrants. The 35m long Gallery which survived the fire contains the National Trust’s oldest large library and an ornate plasterwork ceiling.
Booking: Countryside, Garden, Café and Cycle trails open. House reopens 14 September. Pre book: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lanhydrock
4. Trerice, Cornwall
An intimate Elizabethan manor and a Cornish gem, Trerice remains little changed by the advances in building fashions over the centuries. A key feature is the huge great hall window which contains 576 tiles of glass ranging in age from the 16th-19th centuries, and that would have been a grand statement of wealth when it was first built.
Booking: Garden open. House reopens 16 September. Pre book: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice