One of the best decisions we made when travelling in The UK was to explore England’s historical sites with a National Trust Family Membership. We were at first a little reluctant to fork out the £104 ($210 AUD approx.) as we were trying to keep costs low, but after speaking with the friendly staff at the National Trust office at Corfe Castle we soon saw the excellent value in becoming members. An important point for international visitors to note is that (as the office staff informed us) there is an “overseas visitors pass” that must be purchased online before flying to the UK and provides holders with most of the same benefits as full members but costs only £66 per family. If you’re planning a trip to England soon this is a great deal as entry to just one or two National Trust sites could cost around the same as the pass.
National Trust members are afforded unlimited entry to over 500 historical sites across England including castles, historic homes and gardens. There is also the added bonus of free parking at all sites which can be around £5 per visit. This is ideal for our large family who are always on the look out for good value entertainment and educational activities to do on our travels. With prices for one time only entry to many National Trust sites ranging from £20 to £45 per family, our initial membership price would be covered in just a few visits. As we were travelling around England for a few weeks or more we figured that the amount of outings, activities and parking spread over our trip would be great value at £104.
Here’s a quick look at some of the places we visited using our membership.
Corfe Castle was the first National Trust site we visited and with our family membership purchased at the door, entry was free but had we paid for one off entry it would have been £22.50 for our family. Standing above the village of Corfe near Swanage, Dorset in the south of England, is what remains of the castle which was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. The castle was partially demolished in 1646. Today the grounds are open to the public daily and there is a great ‘history trail’ for the kids to follow, checking off tasks on a sheet as they explore the castle. When we were there, there was a demonstration of a medieval catapult being fired as well as characters in historical costumes in and around the castle.
Non-member entry – £8.99 per adult, £22.50 per family
This is a great place for kids, located near Ambleside in the Lake District. A beautifully maintained and fully functioning castle, most rooms are dedicated to children’s activities including castle building, an art and craft room, as well as the ‘Peter Rabbit Adventure’ section. There are also picnic tables outside in a lovely setting with views of rolling green hills and lakes, as well as an adventure rope/swing/obstacle course in the nearby woods. To read the full post on our day at Wray Castle click here.
Non-member entry – £8.50 per adult £21 per family
Goddard’s House and Garden
The Former home of the Terry-Goddard family, makers of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, this is a grand residence surrounded by expansive and immaculate gardens. Throughout the home, there are displays and information about the famous chocolate makers, Terry’s of York, as well as a games room for the kids with some interesting wooden toys and activities.
Non-member entry – £5.40 per adult £13.50 per family
Over 5000 years old, this prehistoric wonder is located in Wiltshire, 2 hours from London. This was the second time we’ve visited this world famous icon and we were very pleased that this time the roped off area around the stones had been moved in a lot closer than it was on our previous trip, allowing us a much closer look this time. We were also pretty pleased about the “free” entry this time with our membership pass as entry is quite expensive.
Non-member entry – £17.10 per adult, £44.50 per family
Beatles Former Homes
Guided tours of the former homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney are available through National Trust. We didn’t go on the official tour of the homes this time, electing to just walk by the front of each of them to have a look and take some photos for free. We did the same with many other iconic Beatles sights in Liverpool. Had we booked the tour with our membership we could have saved £13.50 per adult ticket (Members get a discount, no free entry for this site).
Non-member entry – £23 per adult, £7.25 per child
Clumber Park Estate
Clumber Park is comprised of over 3,800 acres of parkland, woods, a chapel, walled kitchen garden, a lake and an amazing adventure playground/ropes course which our kids loved. It’s a great place to stop for lunch or an entire day trip when travelling through central England.
Non-member entry – £7 per vehicle
A 14-day international touring pass is only available to non-UK residents and costs £31 for an adult and £66 for families. Touring passes available here. Please NOTE: access and discounts to some sites is not available with a touring pass (including The Beatles Homes Tours)
Full National Trust annual membership is currently £63 for an adult and £111 for a family pass and includes entry and free parking at over 500 sites across The UK. Memberships are available for purchase here.