The National Trust has recently come under fire for changing its approach to the historic properties it manages, and members are leaving it in droves. If you are one of them, but still want to visit grand houses, there is another choice - Historic Houses. Read on to find out more about this organisation that gives you access to stately homes without the politics, the homogeny or the queues.

Two people walking up the path to Highclere Castle on a sunny day.
You get free access to Highclere Castle as a member of Historic Houses

The National Trust was formed in 1895 to preserve Britain's vanishing historic homes and areas of natural beauty, many of which were at great risk of being sold off to developers and private businesses. The stated aims of the Trust were for green spaces and places of historic interest to ‘be kept for the enjoyment, refreshment, and rest of those who have no country house’. In recent years however, its traditional supporters have become disillusioned with the Trust's insistence on identity politics, and massive divisions have been formed.

What's wrong with the National Trust?

An early indication of the problems began when they ran a 'Pride and Prejudice' year in 2017 which focused on LGBT issues. Volunteers were forced to wear rainbow lanyards; those who refused were no longer welcome in their previous roles (the Trust reversed its decision after a public outcry). The exhibitions also 'outed' several of the people who had donated their properties to them, men and women who had wished to keep their sexuality confidential. Now their private lives were being shouted about from the rooftops and plastered all over the displays, much to the dismay of people who knew them, and who knew that they liked to keep such matters to themselves.