To be put off visiting National Trust properties because they are National Trust properties

(155 Posts)
Growlithe Sat 03-Aug-13 18:55:47

I can see that the National Trust have some great places, but it puts years on me whenever I visit one.

They always try to flog you the annual membership. When you suggest you may not get the value out of it (because believe it or not you have other things to do and places to visit of a weekend than just National Trust places) they look at you like you are stark raving mad. And people with National Trust memberships do the same. It's like a cult.

They have complicated pricing systems based on which bits of the place you want to visit. How do I know which bits I want to see, I've never been there before. confused

The cafes are always expensive.

Whilst you often go for days out to entertain/educate the DCs, and they often have activities/packs aimed at children, they seem to tolerate children rather than welcome them.

They must also think the children of today are some sort of alien species, judging from their '50 things to do before you are 11 3/4'. I mean, do we have to be told the DCs would enjoy making a daisy chain, climb a tree or run about in the rain? I know kids like to play computer games these days but do they think we are so so removed from doing this kind of thing with our DCS? It's condescending.

They are full of performance parents with massive great big picnic baskets (which is probably understandable given the prices in the cafes I suppose).

Although they are knowledgeable, they often just seem to sap the life out of the very things they want to show you, and could do with taking a leaf out of places like the Black Country Living Museum, which has amazingly enthusiastic staff.

So go on, National Trust members, do your worst. AIBU?

BoffinMum Tue 06-Aug-13 08:33:57

Breathe, I agree. We're not renewing our passes as there just aren't enough places around here, only Ickworth, Wimpole and Anglesey Abbey, and we have been to all of them so many times now.

Our local one is Wimpole. There aren't many others in the area. I get a bit angry when I see maps showing all of the NT properties as there are far more properties in the Midlands, South and West. It sort of rubs in the fact that we have to pay to go into the farm. Membership is £99 for a family and entry to the farm is £11 for a family with membership compared to £23.70 without. So we would have to go to the farm about 8 times to really get our money's worth locally. And it isn't the best farm we have visited as an attraction (I suppose that isn't what they are aiming for).

CokeFan Mon 05-Aug-13 21:08:25

I did not know that Velma and flowery. I've just had a look at the "Before you visit" bit of the FAQ on their website and it says…

"If you’re a member of the National Trust you can enjoy free entry to all our special places, so do make sure you have your membership cards with you when you visit. We can only give free entry to valid cardholders, so please remember to carry them."

It mentions that you might be charged for special events or that you might have timed tickets (we did today at Snowshill Manor and Gardens) but doesn't say anything about charging and yet, there it is on the wimpole estate prices page. The parking elsewhere I can kind of understand if someone else owns the car park.

Had a look at the Beatles thing and I can't say it sounds like my idea of fun. It's 2.5 hours looking round a couple of houses with a maximum of 15 people for £8.90 each?!? I guess they regard that as a "special event".

tallulah Mon 05-Aug-13 21:06:40

I joined last year and have been pleasantly surprised by how good the volunteers always are with my now 6 yo. We've been in EH for decades and always get the impression they'd rather children were seen but not heard; but in every NT property we've visited the guides have always pointed out to DD what there is in the room to look for, and given her "clues" about where the things on her quiz are.

JenniBoo Mon 05-Aug-13 20:39:40

Always found the NT very welcoming to small children - and great membership prices for under 25s too. Worth joining for the events programme - our local property does Xmas events, and Easter Egg trails etc., all free to members - it works out much, much cheaper than going to the Easter Disco or whatever at the local softplay

YNBU though - if you don't like it, well, you don't, but I can certainly understand why it appeal to many families.

Miniph Mon 05-Aug-13 20:30:01

I got married at an NT site (Fountains Abbey), it's my very favourite place and has been since I visited it as a child - when my parents were making full use of their membership smile .

I found all the staff I met helpful and friendly and there was definitely no hard sell for membership. I've also never had an issue when visiting other NT sites, apart from the over priced cafés but you get those anywhere touristy.

That said - I hate a hard sell on anything and would avoid going back to anywhere that tried it.

flowery Mon 05-Aug-13 20:08:48

That's interesting laquila. Website definitely misleading.

Still not worth it for us though as the DC only interested in farm at the moment!

Catmint Mon 05-Aug-13 19:46:42

I don't see how they can simultaneously be unwelcoming to children and have produced a booklet which gives ideas for children to enjoy their properties.

Yabu.

Laquila Mon 05-Aug-13 19:37:39

I think that's because Tatton Park is only partly owned and run by the NT - it's also Cheshire East Council.

Wishihadabs I guess the variety of properties also totally depends on where you live. For example, within fairly easy driving distance, we have a couple of "standard" stately homes, a fascinating and crazy garden with themed areas (great for kids), a museum of childhood, a former textile mill estate and museum, beautiful and unspoilt moorland, a stately home in decline that's been kept in the same state of decay (absolutely fascinating place), and a 16th C watermill, to name but a few. I guess we're just lucky around here, but I can see how the membership wouldn't seem like good value if the oly properties near you were v homogenous.

Flowery I was so incensed about Wimpole that I emailed them! They said members don't pay for the house or gardens, but pay for the farm. I pointed out their website was misleading! ;)

quoteunquote Mon 05-Aug-13 17:58:31

lydford gorge is a great walk,

a discount membership pays for itself in one visit to the lizard in cornwall as you get free car parking for the best beaches,

there are lots of NT car parks in our area all in places we visit a lot,

but I would give it to them anyway, just because I love the coastal path so much.

and if you are a member you can do quick visits into places near you, without having to feel you must get your moneys worth,

VelmaDaceDinkley Mon 05-Aug-13 17:34:45

Cokefan Tatton Park in Cheshire charges members £5 for parking.

And John Lennon's old house in Liverpool costs £8 EACH for members but that's because you have to book on the tour, you can't just turn up confused

Wishihadabs Mon 05-Aug-13 12:26:15

Was thinking of Nymans and Batemans when I wrote that also Polsden Lacey. Obviously am an unculltured oik as the properties do seem er similar to me. Obviously there is the odd Norman castle, but not exactly short of them are we ?

flowery Mon 05-Aug-13 11:54:15

laquila just checked their website and unless I'm misinterpreting, members don't get a discount at all on the hall, only on farm and garden! shock

DidoTheDodo Mon 05-Aug-13 09:45:56

I'm a Life Member.

I am flippin' glad the NT exists. It rescues beautiful buildings that would otherwise fall into disrepair, and looks after loads of coastline and countryside, preventing it from getting spoilt,(and open access too) and for me is a sign of a civilised and cultured nation.

I am just thinking about the developers who destroyed an ancient edifice in South America (I think) recently...I would hate similar things to happen here and believe the NT is one way of protecting our history.

If you don't like it, don't use it!

mignonette Mon 05-Aug-13 09:22:57

Will not visit because of their support of hunting on their land.

And I am not a 'townie' who knows nothing of the country either in my defence. My Grandparents were farmers and I spent my youth in the deepest countryside. My GP's banned the hunt on their land.

Laquila Mon 05-Aug-13 09:17:19

Funnily enough, husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. We were given joint lifetime membership as a wedding present and were trying to work out what it equated to per year and it came out at something like £25 for the two of us per year (assuming we were I'll visiting NT properties by the age of about 80, which is quite likely!).

Of course, as others have said, where you live and how much you holiday in the UK makes a huge difference to the VfM you get out of a membership, but I'd point out that certainly not all of their places are stately homes (we've recently been really interested to visit La Ronde, nearish Exeter, and the Erno Goldfinger house in Hampstead, for example. I'd also love to go to the Agatha Christie house but v far away from us).

It's been said many times upthread but the obvious way to save on costs is to take a picnic, although I have to say I don't think their cafes are that expensive compared to most high st chains.

I'd be annoyed, though, if I still had to pay to enter my nearest properties as a member! Is that for the farm at Wimpole, flowery, or for the whole site?

bluebump Mon 05-Aug-13 09:15:36

I live about a mile from one property and here in Devon we have loads to visit so my membership has been really worthwhile. We often pop into our local property for a wander around the grounds and then pop to the cafe, we don't see it as much different to going to the park now that it's free to us as a member.

MrButtercat, Knightshayes does do stuff for the kids in the holidays, I'm not sure how it compares to the other houses and if they do as much but it's the house local to us and we go up most holidays to do things like the Halloween stuff, and the ice skating in the winter. They do have a new kids area but we've actually not tried it yet.

flowery Mon 05-Aug-13 08:58:55

Our nearest which charges members is Wimpole Hall. It annoys me because on their website and in their marketing stuff and when they're selling membership they make a big thing about getting in free, and although they don't technically say it, the implication is you get in free to all NT properties.

CokeFan Mon 05-Aug-13 07:32:38

Where are these places that still charge members? I've never seen any. I'd be seriously cross if I still had to pay.

We've looked at the lifetime membership and realised that it's such a long time until you're "in profit" that it just isn't worth it. DD is just coming up to 5 years old so we'd have to have the family membership, which costs over £1800. That's over 18 years worth of yearly memberships (at the current price) and the "family" part of it would only cover DD until she was 18, so 13 years. It's something I'd consider as a gift for an 18 year old, but I might not live another 20 years to make it worthwhile (or at least I might not live near NT properties for that length of time).

flowery Mon 05-Aug-13 06:58:36

We were going to join until we realised that our nearest property still charges members to get in, just a bit less than non members. Very few properties anywhere near us so not good value.

bedhaven Mon 05-Aug-13 06:25:38

I'm in my first year of membership and am a total convert, 3 visits and some parking covered the membership fees. We are pretty well placed for places to visit in Sussex and with a 2.5 year old and 11 month old we've just enjoyed the gardens and not even entered a house yet. Membership allows us days out without spending any more money.
I sit and write on my calendar interesting events that we'll try and go to from their newsletter, all of which are geared towards children. Teddy bears picnics, celebrating medieval festivals, first flowers. There are eye spies and games on the lawns, coyts, badminton and bowls lately. Even dog days my Mum will enjoy!
I've always found the staff helpful and nicely unobservant letting my Mum or friend enter using DH's card.
I always take a picnic and flask of coffee so only ever use the cafe for ice cream.
I like the idea that when we are holidaying in the UK i will investigate NT places to visit nearby. I am surprised how diverse the properties are and look forward to seeing more. I'm also liking the look of thir campsites but disappointed there is no discount for members.

hamab Sun 04-Aug-13 23:20:55

Sort of know what you mean. The two NT properties near us don't have playgrounds, animals, childrens' activities at all. The cafe doesn't have much choice. So no, we don't use them much.

But I can see why people do have membership. Some of the properties have a lot more going on for dc. But also with all the beaches, coast paths, woodlands the NT keeps going, it's a really worthwhile charity to support. My dc loved the tractor ride at Mortehoe museum.

Growlithe Sun 04-Aug-13 23:08:09

Yes bearleft you are right there. smile We've been to the Museum of Childhood to break up a long journey and loved it. We didn't go into the Hall though. The Museum was great, and I remembered a fair few of the toy exhibits. blush

BoffinMum Sun 04-Aug-13 22:54:40

Took on of our APa out to see the Exhibition farm at Wimpole, looked at da cute newborn piglets, and then we went in the caff afterwards, where she ordered a bacon roll.

I mentioned the rare breed bacon was - ahem - very locally reared. wink

It rather put her off her roll grin. I don't think she had made the connection at all. gringrin

bearleftmonkeyright Sun 04-Aug-13 22:52:51

Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood has a Victorian classroom which is great fun, the volunteers act out the role of teachers. There is also a model of a chimney which the children can climb through. I live very near to it, its a great day and I have spent many a happy afternoon there with my dcs.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now