Comparison of English Heritage and the National Trust

8041 words (32 pages) Essay

18th May 2020 Organisations Reference this

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PURPOSE OF THE REPORT___________________________________________________________

DETAILS OF SOURCES________________________________________________________________


History – English Heritage_____________________________________________________________

History – The National Trust___________________________________________________________

Mission Statements__________________________________________________________________

Membership Costs___________________________________________________________________

Membership Benefits_________________________________________________________________

Marketing – English Heritage___________________________________________________________

English Heritage in the Press__________________________________________________________

Marketing – National Trust_____________________________________________________________

National Trust in the Press____________________________________________________________

Merchandise – English Heritage________________________________________________________

Merchandise – National Trust__________________________________________________________


Charities Commission________________________________________________________________



Mission Statements__________________________________________________________________

Membership Costs___________________________________________________________________




Charities Commission________________________________________________________________



APPENDIX A – ENGLISH HERITAGE QUESTIONNAIRE____________________________________

APPENDIX B – NATIONAL TRUST QUESTIONNAIRE______________________________________





Figure 1 – ……………………………… 11

Figure 2 – ………………………………………… 12

Figure 3 – ………………………………. 13 Figure 4 – …………… 14

Figure 5 – ………………………………………………….. 14

Figure 6 – ……………………………………………. 15 Figure 7 –

gardens/ ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 15 Figure 8 – ………………………………………………….. 16

Figure 9 – Non-Combatant Corps Uniform,

england-york-north-yorkshire-49034475 ………………………………………………………………. 16

Figure 10 – ………………………………………………….. 17 Figure 11 –

biodegradable-magazine-wrapper/ ………………………………………………………………….. 18 Figure 12 – …………………………………………. 18

Figure 13 – ………………………………………………………. 19


English Heritage and National Trust have, for many years, played a large part in preserving our history and culture and providing inspiration for many generations.  They are often regarded as being very similar organisations, but do in fact have distinct differences which I aim to outline in this report.

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By reviewing websites, marketing, mission statements, membership costs, merchandise and charity commission reports I will highlight the differences and similarities of both charities.  Using the findings from a questionnaire given to 150 visitors I will also conclude how the charities could target visitors in the future and what changes could be made to increase future membership and revenue.


For the report I have explored a variety of sources as follows: –

•                 The National Trust and English Heritage websites

•                 Recent news articles

•                 Charity commission reports (as these are very lengthy, I have concentrated on the pertinent points made in the reports)

•                 Questionnaires (See Appendices A and B) were randomly handed out to 75 visitors at both an English Heritage and National Trust property.   This was designed to capture visitor experiences and opinions.


History – English Heritage


History – The National Trust 

Continued on next page

Continued on next page

Mission Statements

English Heritage aims to: –

•                 teach and inform visitors about their historic sites by preserving them for people to experience first-hand.  

•                 Make a visit to their properties enjoyable, but also inspirational and factual, so visitors can envisage the history as it really happened.  This is evidenced by the strapline as shown below. 

Figure 1 –

The National Trust breaks down their mission into three key areas: –

•                 Nature

•                 People

•                 Collections.

This reinforces the message about how they are making a difference.

Figure 2 –


Membership Costs

Both English Heritage and National Trust have a number of membership options for individuals and families.   Annual subscriptions can be paid in one single payment or monthly and lifetime membership can be secured with a single one off payment. 

Membership details are shown below (6) (7).

English Heritage

Individual  (adult aged 18 years+)

Joint adult 

(2 adults aged

18 years+)

Family 1 Adult

(1 adult and up to

6 children)

Family 1 Adult (1 adult and up to 6 children)



£5 monthly

£60 annually

£8.75 monthly

£105 annually

£5 monthly

£60 annually

£8.75 monthly

£105 annually

£1,400 (individual) or £2,000 ( joint)

National Trust 


Joint adult

(2 adults aged 18+ years at same address)

Family 1 Adult (1 adult and up to 10 children or grandchildren)

Family 2 Adults (1 adult and up to 10 children or grandchildren)



Adult 26 yrs

£6 a month or £72/year

£10 a month


£120 a year

£6.50 a month


£78 a year

£10.50 a month


£126 a year

£1,730 individual or

£1,295 senior

(over 60)

Young person 18 -25 years


Junior 0-17 years £10/year

(under 5’s are free


Membership Benefits

English Heritage 

•                 Free access to over 400 historic sites

•                 Free entry for up to 6 children

•                 Free handbook

•                 Reduced event entry

•                 Quarterly magazine

•                 Special brand offers

•                 Free parking at sites managed by English Heritage.

   Figure 3 –   

National Trust 

•                 Free entry to over 500 sites

•                 Free parking

•                 National trust Handbook 

•                 National Trust magazine (three a year)

•                 Regular e-newsletter

•                 Direct debit incentive 

•                 Own junior members pack.

Figure 4 –


Marketing – English Heritage

English Heritage has an eye catching website to show visitors their aims as an organisation and how visitors can experience and be submerged in the history of their sites (1).

English Heritage has a comprehensive easy to click menu to direct you to places to visit, events, days out on a budget, holiday cottages and even dog friendly venues.

Unique blue plaques found on the front of London buildings instantly give dates and information on the connection that famous men and women had with that building.

Figure 5 –

Their website, handbooks and magazines help visitors decide on what properties to travel to and how to plan a visit. 

For more personal experiences, there are also links to how you can hire holiday cottages and hire a unique venue for your wedding.  

Their membership page highlights how membership gives the freedom to visit time and time again.

Figure 6 –

Figure 7 –

There are also attractive graphics and recognizable children’s characters to encourage children to learn about history in a fun way.

Figure 8 –

English Heritage in the Press

A recent article on the BBC website tells the story of men at Richmond Castle in Yorkshire at the time of World War One.  Four hundred men refused to fight and were imprisoned at the castle.  English Heritage have painstakingly pieced together military records, graffiti, uniforms and photographs to tell the story of these men and the contribution they made to human rights (8).

Figure 9 – Non-Combatant Corps Uniform,

Marketing – National Trust

The National Trust’s main page appears to focus on how their properties can enhance our lives in different ways.  We may want to have our own space to relax, build memories with friends and family or give our children the freedom to explore and have adventures (2).

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There is a page with the strapline ‘These are the places that make us’ that is dedicated to personal insights into how historic places can shape who we are.  Here you can follow personal stories of how people have found comfort, adventure, escapism or simply space for their children to run around and burn off energy.

There is also a reminder that the National Trust’s aim is to preserve and save nature and collections for future generations.

Figure 10 –

National Trust in the Press

In January 2019, reported on the National Trust’s new green magazine packaging (9).

The National Trust has transitioned from plastic packaging for its magazine sleeve to a sleeve made out of recycled potato starch that can be placed in household garden compost bins and on compost heaps.

Figure 11 –  

Merchandise – English Heritage

English Heritage’s shop pages has a diverse range of items for sale such as Stonehenge branded sunglasses, handmade chess pieces and outdoor garden furniture especially for children (10).

Figure 12 –

Merchandise – National Trust

The National Trust have a wide range of merchandise for sale including cookbooks, clothing and accessories, books, toys, gifts, garden games and even garden furniture.  For children their main e-shop page focuses on Beatrix Potter who was a National Trust supporter (11).

Figure 13 –


A questionnaire was randomly given to 75 visitors visiting Audley End House in Essex (owned by English Heritage) and 75 visitors visiting Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire (owned by the National Trust) on Monday 12th August.  See Appendices A and B.  The questionnaires are identical and visitors were asked to complete and return the questionnaire on the day of their visit in return for a hot drink in the café (a separate outlet to the restaurant at both sites).  The number of distributed questionnaires was agreed by both charities due to the maximum number of hot drinks that each charity agreed to pay for. 

Out of the 75 questionnaires handed out, 68 were completed at Audley End (English Heritage) compared to 70 at Anglesey Abbey (the National Trust).  The slight difference in responses is still suitable for comparison.

The findings of the questionnaire are shown below.

English Heritage

National Trust

Victorian service wing

Rose garden



Stable yard

Lord Fairhaven’s collection of clocks

Number of visitors accompanied by their dog



Visited without a dog


Visited with dog

 0 20 40 60

  English Heritage  National Trust


Suggested improvements

English Heritage

National Trust

Better car park access

Larger coach park and signage

Vegan choices in the restaurant

Afternoon tea option in restaurant

More audio guides

More garden tours

More frequent interactive special events

Increased mill opening times

Charities Commission

The following financial data and geographical data has been extracted from the

Charity Commission financial data for each organisation for the years 2017-18 (12)


English Heritage and Natinal Trust list of regions

English Heritage sites are found in England, but not Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Note: Charities Commission website shows National Trust having sites in Scotland.  Although as a National Trust member you can visit sites in Scotland owned by National Trust for Scotland, this is an independently funded charity.




(Pages 6 to 8)

•                 English Heritage was formed in 1882 so the Ministry of Works could preserve historic sites that were previously regarded as ruins.  The formation of the National Trust has a more personal story in that former founder Octavia Hill first had the idea of preserving sites in 1884 when she was personally asked to help preserve a garden in South East London.

•                 Both charities passed Acts of Parliament in 1907 and 1913 to increase their powers to preserve our heritage.  

•                 Whilst English Heritage concentrated on preserving monuments in the early years, the National Trust acquired its first country house, nature reserve and coastal reserve by 1912.

•                 After the Second World War the Ministry of Works (now English Heritage) were nervous of the cost of taking on a large collection of country houses so the National Trust took on the majority of these, passing a further act of parliament to gain back houses requisitioned in the War.

•                 The National Trust enlisted the support of many famous people to highlight and support their cause such as Beatrix Potter.  Her contribution is highlighted by the Trust in the Beatrix Potter merchandise on sale in their shops.

•                 In 1937 – The National Trust Act was passed to allow properties to be gifted to the Trust on death, untaxed to be enjoyed by future generations.

•                 English Heritage has 400 sites open to visitors whilst the National Trust has 780 miles of coastline and over 500 historic houses.

Mission Statements 

(Pages 11 and 12)

•                 It would appear that English Heritage believe in visitors submerging themselves in history to experience and learn about this first hand.

•                 The National Trust tries to emphasize the diverse range of personal benefits visitors can experience at their sites.  

•                 Both charities focus on their collections and preservation of properties and nature.

Membership Costs 

(Page 13)

•                 Individual membership costs are comparable for both charities.

•                 The National Trust has a young person’s membership (and junior pack) not offered by English Heritage, possibly to attract and retain members at a younger age.

•                 National Trust family membership covers up to 10 children or grandchildren as opposed to up to 6 for English Heritage.

•                 English Heritage offers a lower price entry point for lifetime membership and also has joint lifetime membership.

•                 English Heritage supplies members with a magazine quarterly whereas the National Trust only supply one three times a year.

•                 For National Trust membership you can explore 20% more sites than English Heritage.

•                 National Trust offer an incentive of a free gift for paying by direct debit.


(Pages 15-19)

•                 Only English Heritage have a blue plague scheme for London buildings of historical interest.

•                 The English Heritage website focus on how visitors can experience the history of their sites as opposed to the National Trust who stress how historic sites have made a difference to ordinary people.

•                 Both charities use children’s characters to appeal to a younger audience.

•                 English Heritage emphasize bringing dogs onto their sites, possibly because they own more monuments and less historic country houses than the National Trust.  

•                 Both charities feature in topical stories such as the story of conscientious objectors to World War 1 (English Heritage) and the National Trust’s commitment to reducing plastic by introducing a fully compostable magazine wrapper.


(Page 20)

•                 Both charities sell numerous handmade and unusual gifts to increase revenue.

•                 English Heritage highlight the importance of one of their most historic sites, Stonehenge by selling branded Stonehenge sunglasses.

•                 The National Trust remembers its famous supporters such as Beatrix Potter by offering a range of Beatrix Potter merchandise.


Pages 21-25

•                 Out of the 75 questionnaires handed out 68 were completed at Audley End (English Heritage) compared to 70 at Anglesey Abbey (the National Trust).  The slight difference in responses is still suitable for comparison.

•                 79% of all responders rated their visit between 8 and 9 out of 10.

•                 It would appear that the marketing for the primary attractions for each site did draw visitors to spend time at these attractions and rate these as a highlight of their visit.

•                 The majority of English Heritage responders visited for an hour longer than those for the National Trust although it is not clear why this is.

•                 For both charities, most responders travelled to the sites by car.  More arrived by bus at the National Trust site, probably because the questionnaire results showed the National Trust site attracted far larger parties than English Heritage.  However, English Heritage had more responders who travelled by train which could be due to their closer proximity to a train station (Audley End).

•                 Responders travelled a wide spread of distances to each site, but the majority travelled 16 miles or above.

•                 The garden and house were visited by the majority of responders, but a lower number of responders visited the restaurant.  

•                 The majority of responders visited with 1 other person.

•                 More responders visited the English Heritage site with their dog (33% as opposed to 16% at National Trust) probably due to the expansive grounds at Audley End.

•                 Responders were keen to have better car and coach parking and access, further restaurant options, more audio guides and tours and increased opening times and interactive special events.

Charities Commission

Pages 26-30

All points are for the financial year 2017/18 unless otherwise stated.

•                 The National Trust received over five times more income (£594.88M) income than English Heritage at £116.01M.

•                 Both charities received the majority of their income from charitable activities, but also receive money from investments, donations and legacies and other trading activities (merchandise etc.).

•                 The National Trust has considerable long term investments (£1,317.50M) compared to English Heritage which has none.   However, the National Trust owes £125M to their pension pot and English Heritage has no such debt.

•                 Both charities have a year on year increase of income which approximately matches spending.  

•                 One noticeable artifact for English Heritage is that around 2015, English Heritage was restructured in such a way to report their financial records in a format suitable for the Charities Commission and enable like for like comparison between other charities.  

•                 Both charities are spending at least equal or greater than their income, this is possibly due to compliance with Charity Commission rules.

•                 The National Trust is more efficient at spending its income on charitable activities (88%) compared to the English Trust at 80%.

•                 The ratio of employees reflects the size of income for both charities, whereas The National Trust records a significantly higher number of volunteers, over 19 times greater than English Heritage.

•                 English Heritage as its name operates exclusively in England (excluding Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.  The Charities Commission website shows National Trust having sites in Scotland, but it has a reciprocal agreement with the National Trust for Scotland so that its members can visit Scottish sites.


•                 Both English Heritage and National Trust could have a more interactive history timeline on their websites.

•                 English Heritage could also introduce a young person’s membership and junior pack to sign up members at an earlier age.

•                 Both charities could consider stocking further dog related merchandise in their shops to increase revenue.

•                 Further interactive attractions could be introduced to increase visitor time at sites and therefore spending.

•                 Both charities could market vegan food and afternoon teas to boost footfall and sales.

•                 Increased coach transport and greener transport could be promoted to reduce environmental impact.

•                 English Heritage could explore ways to boost volunteer numbers.


  1. Our history. English Heritage. [Online]
  2. Our history: 1884-1945. National Trust. [Online]
  3. Remembering Robert Hunter. National Trust. [Online]
  4. Lothian’s gift to the nation. National Trust. [Online]
  5. Our history 1945-2000. National Trust. [Online]
  6. Join.  English Heritage.  [Online]
  7. Join and get involved.  English Heritage. [Online] 
  8. WW1 conscientious objectors at Richmond Castle.  BBC.  [Online] 
  9. National Trust introduces fully biodegradable magazine wrapper Plastic Generation.  [Online] 

  1. English Heritage Shop. English Heritage [Online]
  2. Unique gifts and unusual presents.  English Heritage [Online] 
  3. Charity details.  Charities Commission [Online].  English Heritage.
  4. Charity details.  Charities Commission [Online].  National Trust. 



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