Celebrating 125 years of protecting historic buildings and areas of natural beauty.

The National Trust was founded on 12 January 1895 by three individuals: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley. Together they would start a charity that would support and protect historic residences and areas of natural beauty across the country. They received their first piece of land that year, their first building in 1896 and their first nature reserve in 1899.

1927: Stonehenge

After a National Appeal, money was raised to purchase 1,400 acres of farmland around this famous stone circle. Today you can still stroll through the fields exploring this prehistoric landmark. The two stamps below depict the stone structure as a World Heritage Site and a place of astronomical significance.

Two stamps depicting stonehenge. On the left is an illustrative version with moons and on the right a photographic close-up image of the stones.

37p, Astronomy, 1990 & 1st NVI, World Heritage Sites, 2005

1929: Support of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter was a great support to the National Trust using the income from the sale of her children’s stories to help their work in the Lake District. With her help they were able to purchase Monk Coniston Estate. Beatrix Potter designs have featured more than once on stamps, here from 2016 with two of her key characters: Peter Rabbit and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Two stamps depicting illustration of characters from children's books by Beatrix Potter.

1st NVI, Peter Rabbit & Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Beatrix Potter, 2016

1931: National Trust of Scotland

In 1931 the National Trust of Scotland was founded. The 50th anniversary of which was celebrated with a stamp issue. The stamps were designed by Michael Fairclough and feature landscapes from all corners of the British Isles.

Image of 5 stamps depicting different landscapes from around Britain.

Stamp set, The National Trust, 1981

Issued stamps for the National Trust

In 1995 to mark the centenary year, Royal Mail commissioned a set of stamps to commemorate the event. Unlike many of the unadopted designs the issued stamps don’t relate to a certain building or landscape but depict up-close images from different sites. They are also captioned to show some of the trusts’ core functions; from ‘protecting land’ to ‘repairing buildings’.

A set of 5 stamps depicting close-up photographs of features to National Trust properties.

Stamp set, National Trust, 1995

There was some amazing unadopted artwork produced for this issue all of which we hold in our archive.

David Gentleman

David Gentleman produced these beautiful soft watercolours that look at key landmarks from different areas. Here on the 19p stamp he depicts the dramatic rock formations of the Giants Causeway in County Antrim on the north east coast of Northern Ireland. On the 35p stamp Gentleman illustrates the medieval Powis Castle situated in the Welsh county, Powys.

A watercolour depicting the dramatic rock structure at the Giants Causeway.

Unadopted design of The Giants Causeway by David Gentleman (1995/04/24)

Stamp depicting a castle surrounded by trees and bushes.

Unadopted design of Powis Castle by David Gentleman (1995/04/27)

Norman Ackroyd

Royal Academian Norman Ackroyd was also asked to summit designs for the issue. His moody and atmospheric style I feel works extremely well here depicting the ruin of Dunseverick Castle sat on the peninsular. The site and castle was given to the National Trust in 1962 from farmer Jack McCurdy.

Black and white illustration of a ruin castle on a hill surrounded by flying birds.

Unadopted design of Dunseverick Castle by Norman Ackroyd (1995/04/78)

Eileen Hogan

Eileen Hogan’s abstract paintings are formed of strong bold lines emphasising the dominance of the buildings within their landscape. This first design is of the ruins of Fountain Abbey in Yorkshire, which is the largest monastic ruins in the country. I also had to include the 41p design which depicts the Temple of Apollo at Stourhead, which people may recognise from a scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film.

25p stamp depicting a painting of the abbey with caption and perforation surround.

Unadopted design of Fountain Abbey by Eileen Hogan (1995/04/42)

41p stamp that depicts a painting of the temple in the ground of Stourhead with caption and perforation surround.

Unadopted design of the Temple of Apollo by Eileen Hogan (1995/04/40)

As a lover of history and historic buildings I have always been drawn to National Trust properties. What they are doing is saving and supporting British history for future generations to visit and enjoy. If you are interested in learning more about what the National Trust are doing for their anniversary or to become a member all can be found on their website.

Want to explore more stamp designs? Pop into our Discovery Room or browse online here.

-Georgina Tomlinson, Deputy Curator (Philately)