Today, we’re diving into a question that’s sparked quite a few conversations at our dinner table: Is a National Trust membership worth it for families? Myself and Noemi had membership for several years whilst living in Dorset and then cancelled it after a couple of years, as we’d seen all of the sites near by. We found a National Trust membership ‘under the Christmas tree‘ from my parents last year, and are now getting to the point of deciding whether to renew it or not. So buckle up as we work through whether we think it’s worth renewing our National Trust membership and read on to discover what we decided to do!
What is National Trust Membership?
In assessing whether it’s worth it, we first need to know what it is. So let’s chat about what a National Trust membership brings to the family table.
It’s more than just a card in your wallet; it’s your ticket to over 500 historical places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, nature reserves, and houses. In fact, with membership you can also use it in Scotland as well as in 60 other countries including Italy, Canada the Czech Republic and through the INTO.
From solo adventurers to families, there are options for everyone. But not only does it give you access to houses and historical sites, you can also use it to get free parking at various nature reserves, such as at Alderley Edge.
Cost of Membership
One way of assessing whether a subscription with the National Trust is worth it is to look at the cost. So let’s talk numbers!
At the time of writing, it is possible to get the following memberships paid either through one total charge or through a monthly direct debit:
- Individual Membership (£84 per year / £7 per month)
- Joint Membership (£139.20 per year / £11.60 per month) – two adults aged 18+ living at the same address
- Family one adult (£91.20 per year / £7.60 per month) – one adult and and their children or grandchildren (17 or under). Under 5s go free.
- Family two adults (£146.60 per year / £12.20 per month) – two adults (aged 18+) living at the same address and their children or grandchildren (17 or under). Under 5s go free.
There is also a lifetime membership, however we’re assuming most families won’t be considering that – we certainly aren’t and so won’t be discussing that in this article.
Senior membership concession
If you’re an existing member aged 60 or over, and you’ve been a member for at least the last three consecutive years, you can ask for 25 per cent off your subscription. This means that you’ll pay £63.00 for individual senior membership and £104.40 for joint senior membership.
So How Many Sites Do you Need to Visit?
From a purely transactional point of view therefore, how many of the local sites do you need to visit in a year to ‘break even’, or even ‘make a profit’?
We’ve certainly got a great range of properties around Manchester so you just need to make sure you hit the following sites in one year to make your monies worth! The following is based upon comparing family prices against the family two adult membership (£146.60)
- Tatton Park Park Farm, House and Gardens – £42
- Dunham Massey House and Servants Courtyard, Park and Gardens – £39.90
- Lyme Park House, Park and Gardens – £35.80
- Little Moreton Hall £35.80
Total cost of entry to these four houses is £153.80, which means you’d make a profit just by visiting these four sites. On top of that, by signing up for an annual direct debit, you will receive a £15 gift voucher.
As part of this, we’ve not even considered Styal Mill, the free parking at Alderley Edge, Hare Hill Garden near Prestbury nor any of the countless other National Trust properties in the regions or nationally.
Benefits of National Trust Membership
One of the best things with National Trust membership is that it gives you unlimited access to any of their properties. This is great if you have little kids as it means that you don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of time visiting a site if the kids get bored after just 30 minutes at a property.
In fact, we’ve whisked the kids off for impromptu picnics at Hare Hill, soaked in the sunset hues at Tatton Park, and often used Little Moreton Hall as a ‘service station’ on our way back from visiting family in Dorset when the kids have needed to stretch their legs and burn off some energy.
With our membership, every weekend promises a new chapter in our family adventure book.
Varied Events Guaranteed
Aside from the obvious attractions of the property you’re visiting each of the properties regularly has varied events.
One of the most memorable was put on by Dunham Massey celebrating the 100th anniversary of the First World War, where actors would play out little ‘vignettes’ based upon diaries from convalescing soldiers and the nurses working there. They did not interact with visitors at all and appeared and disappeared as if like ghosts. It was truly haunting!
More recently, we just came back from the Halloween Detectives Trail at Lyme Park and will definitely be checking out the special Christmas events being put on across the various properties.
This means that it is easy to return to one property multiple times each year and not feel like you’re going over the same things each time!
Bringing History Alive!
On top of everything that we have described, one thing that we haven’t commented on is the educational value! With Mila now turning seven, she is at an age to really understand what is being presented, and, coupled with school studies it adds a tremendous amount of value.
Our most memorable conversation was talking about kids her age working under the spinning jennies at Quarry Bank Mill! She could not get her head around the fact that kids her age 200 years ago, didn’t go to school, didn’t have iPADS, had to work and could suffer a serious injury from the machinery.
So Will We Be Renewing our Membership?
Absolutely! Times are tight at the moment, but renewing our family membership with the National Trust is a relatively small cost with a huge number of benefits.
So if you have a membership, we hope like us you’ll be able to afford to renew the membership for another year. If you don’t have one, you really must sign up! We appreciate that times can be difficult at the moment, but actually you’ll feel a huge load taken off your shoulders when the kids are pestering you to do something and you don’t feel the pressure of having to spend money on something else!
In the spirit of Let’s Go Manchester, we believe the National Trust membership is a key that unlocks a treasure chest of experiences.
Still Need Persuading?
We appreciate you may still be struggling to justify the expense! If so, keep your eyes posted because the National Trust quite regularly does promotional free tickets throughout the year!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is National Trust Membership for Seniors Any Different?
Grandparents, we’ve got you covered. Senior memberships offer the same bouquet of benefits at a fraction of the cost. It’s the perfect companion for those leisurely strolls or when the grandkids come for that much-anticipated visit.
Can I cancel My Membership?
Change of plans? No problem. The National Trust’s hassle-free cancellation policy means you can opt-out at any time, however it is non-refundable, meaning you won’t get your money back! But trust us, once you’ve tasted the sweetness of expansive gardens and historic homes, it’s hard to say goodbye.