|Pride & Identity
Having spent over an hour reading the website of the National Trust, praise the lord they are in existence!
Founded by Victorian philanthropists Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley in 1895, they have proved to have had an amazing insight in to the loss of coastline, countryside and in particular our buildings. Their argument of the time was of uncontrolled development and industrialisation which still reign true today, at least on the development side.
From the formation of the Trust to the present day, unprecedented hikes in membership have seen its first year based upon 100 members to now having 3,500,000 in 2007. Over this period of time, they have acquired 248,000 hectares of countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, more than 700 miles of coastline and more than 200 buildings and gardens of outstanding interest and importance.
The father of the current Earl of Crawford & Balcarres served as Chairman of the National Trust and complained in 1964 how “almost every town in Britain famous for its buildings and its beauty, has had its centre cut out by speculators”. He went on to say “it is I think a scandal for our generation that we should live to see the destruction of our country and the suicide of its beauty, worse than anything Hitler was able to do with his bombs, for which our generation will be blamed and remembered in the future”.
Poignant words that have come true, a prophecy if you like. His position certainly allowed his voice to be heard and this warning shot came in the middle of urban town/city centre development which replaced much of the Victorian legacy and previous. I am sure we can all relate to such comments in our own towns.
Picking up on the 3,500,000 members, that’s a great amount of people all interested in the history of this green & pleasant land. In times of uncertainty, many seem to be suffering an identity crisis with severe political experiments taking place with its own people and a loss of appreciation to the vast history our lands have to offer. You only need to see the figures for tourism and the main reasons for visitors to the UK being its history & culture. The Americans are in awe of our past and seem to offer more of a fascination than our own people.
The National Trust is currently chaired by Simon Jenkins, a right wing British newspaper columnist and author. Its president is none other than a gentleman with an incredible passion for heritage & culture, the Prince of Wales.
I sense a great deal of relief that the National Trust are not an arm of the government or rely on them for such funding. I praise all of those members who appreciate what little we have left, and how supreme we are in the offering of such heritage.