National Trust Foundations

Founders of the National Trust (act. 1894–1895) campaigned for the preservation of open spaces and historic buildings, establishing a body to hold ‘places of historic interest or natural beauty’ for the nation.

Envisaged by Octavia Hill to ‘consist of men and women who should be free from the tendency to sacrifice such treasures to mercenary considerations, or to vulgarizing them in accordance with popular cries’ (Darley, 297), the society was incorporated under the Joint Stock Companies Act in 1895.

The National Trust Act in 1907 gave it the unique power to hold property on an inalienable basis.

The foundation of the National Trust is traditionally attributed to:

  • Octavia Hill, the housing reformer who viewed open spaces as fundamental for the physical and moral well-being of the working classes,
  • Sir Robert Hunter, honorary solicitor to the Commons Preservation Society, and
  • Hardwicke Rawnsley, a clergyman campaigning for the preservation of the Lake District.