Are you a bit of a bargain hunter? Me too! That’s why I have searched high and low for some of the best and cheapest ways to become a member of the National Trust and English Heritage. Plus, I’ll explain the benefits and the differences between both.
You’ve probably heard of them both and, like me, you may have thought they were actually the same thing. However, there are differences between the National Trust and English Heritage. Take a look at which each membership has to offer and how you could save a total of £57 for entry into both.
What is the National Trust?
The National Trust was formed back in 1895, with its job to look after areas of nature, beauty and historical interests in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own National Trust). It is Europe’s largest conservation charity with millions of members, volunteers and staff. The Trust owns over 610,000 acres of land and 780 miles of coastline. On top of all this, it owns properties including over 500 historic houses, castles, archaeological and industrial monuments, gardens, parks and nature reserves.
What is English Heritage?
English Heritage was formed in 1983 and cares for over 400 historical buildings and monuments based in England and the surrounding grounds too. To complicate matters, English Heritage split in to 2 further parts in 2015 –
- Historic England – which focuses on protecting the historic environment of England.
- English Heritage Trust – which operates the historic properties.
What is the difference between English Heritage and the National Trust?
The only real difference is the property they own. Apart from that, there isn’t a huge difference between the organisations – both are concerned with protecting buildings and the countryside and rely on income from commercial activity as well as donations. However, English Heritage only focuses on England.
What’s included in the membership?
- Free entry to over 500 special places
- Free parking at most National Trust car parks
- Free entry to all National Trust for Scotland sites including 26 castles and palaces
- Members’ Handbook, full of information about our places
- National Trust Magazine three times a year, packed with inspiration, interviews and news
Best National Trust days out:
- Giant’s Causeway – County Antrim
- Clumber Park – Nottinghamshire
- Attingham Park – Shropshire
- Cliveden – Buckinghamshire
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – County Antrim
- Waddesdon Manor – Buckinghamshire
- Belton House – Lincolnshire
- Fountains Abbey Estate – North Yorkshire
- Stourhead – Wiltshire
- Calke Abbey – Derbyshire
|Per Month||Per Year||Lifetime|
|Joint (2 adults)||£10||£120||£2,160|
£1,620 - Senior
|Family (2 adults + children)||£10.50||£126||£2,265|
|Family (1 adult + children)||£6.50||£78|
£1,295 - Senior
|Young person 18-25||£36|
|Junior 0-17 (under 5's go free)||£10|
- Unlimited access to over 400 historic places
- Free entry for up to six children
- Free or reduced price entry to 100s of exciting events
- Free parking where the car park is owned by English Heritage
- Discounted entrance to properties under the stewardship of Historic Scotland, CADW (Wales) and Manx National Heritage. 50% off for your 1st year membership, free for any subsequent years.
Best English Heritage days out:
- Dover Castle – Kent
- Kenilworth Castle And Elizabethan Garden – Warwickshire
- Whitby Abbey – North Yorkshire
- 1066 Battle of Hastings – East Sussex
- Tintagel Castle – Cornwall
- Pendennis Castle – Cornwall
- Carisbrooke Castle – Isle of Wight
- Wrest Park – Bedfordshire
- Framlingham Castle – Suffolk
- Audley End House And Gardens – Essex
|Per Month||Per Year||Lifetime|
|Joint (2 adults)||£9.08||£109||£2,090|
|Family (2 adults + children)||£9.08||£109|
|Family (1 adult + children)||£5.25||£63|
|1 Adult + 1 Senior||£8||£96|
£4.58 - Senior
£55 - Senior
£1,140 - Senior
|Young person 18-25 or student||£4.08||£49|
If the above two membership schemes are of interest to you, then it’s also worth considering…
This is non-profit organisation that represents over 1,600 privately owned castles, historic homes and gardens in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Subscription to Historic House magazine
- Exclusive Historic House tours
- Free entry into over 300 houses.
Best Historic Houses days out:
- Abbotsford – Roxburghshire
- Allerton Castle – North Yorkshire
- Alnwick Castle – Northumberland
- Berkeley Castle – Gloucestershire
- Borde Hill Garden – West Sussex
- Castle Hill Gardens – Devon
- Dorney Court – Berkshire
- Hagley Hall – Worcestershire
- Holkham Hall – Norfolk
- Hutton-In-The-Forest – Cumbria
Individual Membership: £56
Joint Membership: £89
Joint Membership + Additional Member: £114 (£25 per extra person)
Junior Membership (3-16 years): £25 per person
Finding National Trust and English Heritage deals
Never pay full price is my motto. And there are various places you can visit to find a better deal.
They will sometimes offer discounts or will give you a free gift for joining. At the time of writing, this is a free pair of binoculars for joining the National Trust.
If you’re a civil servant, you’ll qualify for CSSC membership. For £51 per year, you’ll get a range of benefits including free English Heritage membership.
Tesco Clubcard points
Tesco Clubcard allow you to exchange points for English Heritage vouchers. And not only that, you get 3 times the value. So, if your membership costs £120, you will only need £40 worth of points.
Heritage New Zealand
Yes, that’s right, I did mean to say New Zealand. The National Trust in the UK runs a reciprocal scheme with similar organisations across the world. That means that if you are a National Trust member, you can visit sites in New Zealand for free.
But not only that, you can purchase a New Zealand Heritage membership from here in the UK. The cost for a family with 2 adults is 350 New Zealand Dollars (about £177). However, membership doesn’t just gain you entry into UK National Trust sites, but also English Heritage sites. To purchase these memberships separately in the UK would cost you £235.
So, if you wanted both memberships, purchasing the New Zealand option would save you £57 per year. Although, before you jump in, you need to consider a couple of other points.
- Parking will not be included in your New Zealand membership, so this may be an extra cost.
- When making payment for your membership, you may be charged a foreign currency fee. Take a look at the Halifax card if you want to save on fees.
Which is best – National Trust or English Heritage
There is no definitive answer. Both give you access to some wonderful sites and it’s a matter of choosing which appeals to you most. If you can’t decide, then there’s no reason why you can’t alternate between your memberships.
At first, over £100 on a membership may sound expensive, but they do give terrific value. You should recoup your money if you visit more than 2 places in a year. As a family membership holder, I save over £200 per year
Can I use my National Trust card for entry into English Heritage sites?
No. The memberships are separate and being a member of one organisation will not gain you entry into the other.
Can I get into National Trust sites without my card?
Without your card, you may be asked to pay an admission fee. Annual and life members can return their admission tickets in exchange for some National Trust vouchers, less an admin fee
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