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The National Trust - is it losing ours?

(348 Posts)
MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 08:27:06

Paw and I took out membership of the NT over 40 years ago do that we could traipse round beautiful old houses and gardens, enjoy superior scones and cakes in their excellent tea rooms and invariably find lovely products and other things to buy in their shops which would guarantee that the Broon But an Ben would gleam like Mentmore Towers. We also felt it was a worthy cause.
For the last few years I have made only occasional use of my membership but still regarded it as a worthwhile charitable donation even if the houses were shut much of the time.
But this latest is stretching my loyalty
The National Trust has told volunteers at an 18th century palace to don face paint and glitter to mark Pride month despite growing backlash from members over its “woke” policies. Volunteers at Ickworth in Suffolk have been encouraged to dress up in colourful clothes, wear rainbow flowers in their hair, wear multi-coloured make-up and have their face or body painted when they turn up at work on Friday.
It is part of celebrations across the National Trust, which is encouraging its properties to support Pride and says on its website that they will be “inviting the teams at our places to wear their rainbow colours ”.
It is not the first time that the charity has been criticised over its requests for staff and volunteers to wear the gay pride symbol. In 2017 it was forced to U-turn on an instruction that those working at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk who refused to wear rainbow lanyards and badges had to take on backroom roles

Now I am not pro-slavery or indeed intolerant of freedom of sexuality , but WTF (sorry, but I am cross) has this got to do with the original aims of the NT which was “established for the purpose of promoting the permanent preservation for the benefit of the nation of lands, and buildings, of beauty or historic interest and lands for the preservation so far as practical of their natural aspect features and animal and plant life.”
It certainly seems to be losing the plot.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 08:27:30

“So that”

Alygran Tue 15-Jun-21 08:34:24

It lost mine over this sort of nonsense and it’s annual renewal letter telling me that if I didn’t pay the direct debit on time they would be taking me to court! I telephoned and cancelled!

theworriedwell Tue 15-Jun-21 08:39:46

I haven't been to a NT property for years and will never go again. The last time we visited one of their properties we were discriminated against in a very blatant and unpleasant way due to my husband not being white.

I think a dose of woke would do some of their volunteers a bit of good.

Greyduster Tue 15-Jun-21 08:44:15

We cancelled earlier this year. Neither of us like the current ethos in the NT and they do seem to be straying away from their primary role to preserve and educate. DH was fed up of having their new agenda shoved down his throat. Sad if, by that, they lose revenue they badly need for the upkeep of their splendid properties. They should be falling at the feet of their lovely volunteers, not alienating them.

Doodledog Tue 15-Jun-21 08:44:50

Wasn’t there a similar hoo ha a while ago? Something about volunteers having to wear rainbow badges or lanyards during Pride week?

I am not in favour of compulsory support for causes, even when I support the causes themselves. I feel the same about wearing poppies, and I didn’t like the pressure to be seen to clap for the NHS.

This seems to me to be a similar situation. The NT should, IMO, stick to its brief. Fair enough if it wants to put on an exhibition to celebrate an event connected to gay rights, or to showcase the life of a famous gay person, but in both cases it should be in a relevant property (ie connected to the person or event. Context is all.

Luckygirl Tue 15-Jun-21 08:55:17

If a property has gay connections in some way then an exhibit about this would not be out of order.

But the whole idea of dictating what their volunteers and staff should think on an issue and insisting that they have some outward sign of this is perfectly ridiculous. I do not blame you MawBe for being annoyed.

theworriedwell - did you report this dreadful behaviour? Clearly this is not acceptable in any way.

Newquay Tue 15-Jun-21 09:13:38

Oh worried we’ll how unbelievable! We’re members too and walking in our local NT grounds over the last year has kept us sane but this nonsense has to stop. You would hope if enough of us complain someone would listen wouldn’t you?

trisher Tue 15-Jun-21 09:28:09

I wonder Mawbe if you would be so upset if volunteers had been asked to dress in 1940's outfits or uniforms to commemorate the end of WW2? As long as no one is forcing anyone to do this (and I think that is true for any sort of dress-up) I can't see why it should be so controversial.

theworriedwell Tue 15-Jun-21 09:29:57

Luckygirl, no we didn't report it. DH is well used to it and he just didn't want to, didn't want to hear the "explanations" and excuses so we just voted with our feet.

It is strange but I feel these things more than he does, I suppose it is due to his previous experiences, his first real shocker was as a 5 year old, so would have been 1951, when a woman walked up and spat in his face.

Is it any wonder I wouldn't mind a bit of woke.

DillytheGardener Tue 15-Jun-21 09:32:12

Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Most businesses and institutions celebrate different events on the calendar, like Pride, why not the National Trust? People who are anti NT celebrating this are you anti pride and gay people? I find it a little strange.

I also find strange that people are averse to the National Trust including research regarding slavery in their interpretation. Slavery created a lot of wealth in England which in turn created a boom in building of large estates and Capability Brown style landscaping. Ignoring this doesn’t make it any less true. This information helps put the properties in the context of their time.

Ostriches and the sand come to mind.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 09:33:01

trisher

I wonder Mawbe if you would be so upset if volunteers had been asked to dress in 1940's outfits or uniforms to commemorate the end of WW2? As long as no one is forcing anyone to do this (and I think that is true for any sort of dress-up) I can't see why it should be so controversial.

Actually I would Trisher - I also resent the “Lucy Worsley School of History” which I see as patronising and dumbing down for intelligent adults.
School parties, maybe (primary) might like to see the dressing up, but I would walk briskly in the opposite direction.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 09:36:00

People who are anti NT celebrating this are you anti pride and gay people? I find it a little strange

I find it more than a little strange that you seem to have missed an important part of my OP - where I clearly said I was neither pro- slavery nor intolerant of freedom of sexual inclination. confused

Alegrias1 Tue 15-Jun-21 09:41:46

DH used to be a volunteer in the NTS. No longer, though. He objected to being asked to dress up as a 19th century butler in order to talk about the best collection of Dutch art in Scotland. The dressing up thing is puerile and the pride week support is virtue signalling, IMO.

Regarding the racism that you talk about theworriedwell, in Scotland many of the people on NTS sites are volunteers, and maybe don't have the understanding that they should about diversity. I'd certainly complain if I was you.

DillytheGardener Tue 15-Jun-21 09:42:51

If you aren’t anti Pride why are you anti Pride being celebrated at NT?

If you aren’t ‘pro slavery’ why are are you anti these histories being included at NT properties? Would you prefer no interpretation of any histories at NT properties or would you prefer selective ones that ignore the fact that many NT properties were created using wealth from slavery?

Had a similar disagreement about this with my husband who could give no sensible answer. He only occasionally comes to NT properties on hols under sufferance, and was disproportionately worked up about it, I believe from the rot he consumes via the Daily Mail.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 09:42:57

Good Lord Alegrias - we agree on something! 🎉🎉

trisher Tue 15-Jun-21 09:43:52

MawBe

trisher

I wonder Mawbe if you would be so upset if volunteers had been asked to dress in 1940's outfits or uniforms to commemorate the end of WW2? As long as no one is forcing anyone to do this (and I think that is true for any sort of dress-up) I can't see why it should be so controversial.

Actually I would Trisher - I also resent the “Lucy Worsley School of History” which I see as patronising and dumbing down for intelligent adults.
School parties, maybe (primary) might like to see the dressing up, but I would walk briskly in the opposite direction.

Wow! As someone who has dressed up and delivered re-enactments and presentations of historic events I can safely say you are definitely the exception. Most people love them.

Doodledog Tue 15-Jun-21 09:45:52

People who are anti NT celebrating this are you anti pride and gay people? I find it a little strange.
Not at all. Why would it seem that way?

As I said in my post, it is the compulsory joining in that I don't like, and would add that whereas I do support Pride and gay rights, and have no issues with telling anyone who feels they have the right to ask, I don't see the need for those who don't support a cause (whatever it is) to have to declare it.

TV presenters who don't wear poppies, for instance, are vilified and accused of being disrespectful to the fallen. I saw some upsetting comments on social media aimed at people who didn't stand at their garden gates banging pans with spoons in the middle of winter, too. It's insidious.

The NT is there to keep expensive properties in good repair, so that our collective heritage is protected. It is not about blanket support for causes. I am a supporter of Trades Unions, and feel the same when they assume that members are in support of political causes too. I can't think of a time when I was opposed to a cause that my Union supported, but the principle holds.

People should have the freedom to buy into support of an organisation (and to know that their subscription fees are being spent in support of that organisation) without giving consent to having that support (or their fees) hijacked in favour of different causes.

None of the above suggests for a minute that I am anti-gay, as anyone who knows me would be aware🥳.

Alegrias1 Tue 15-Jun-21 09:46:57

MawBe

Good Lord Alegrias - we agree on something! 🎉🎉

I had to go for a lie down wink

Grammaretto Tue 15-Jun-21 09:48:12

I agree MawB it is unnecessary
I was about to drop my membership a few years ago when there were greatly reduced opening hours. The village of Culross in Fife was closed at Easter. Nothing to do with covid, our nearest pile was closed for years for moth removal. Seriously. I see it's open again from Wed - Sun, prebookable only. That's a bit better. I must find out if they've got rid of the moths!
www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/newhailes

I am lazy and pay by direct debit and I enjoyed Allan bank which is really family friendly.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere

The daft woke thing is attention seeking.
I agree with Doodledog. It should not be compulsory.

I hope you received an apology theworriedwell that must have been dreadful.

So many places I want to visit are not NT and I have to pay all over again.shock

Alegrias1 Tue 15-Jun-21 09:48:47

I went to the re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary. It was fab.

I don't need someone dressed as Mary Queen of Scots to help me understand the history of Stirling Castle, just a good guide, please.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 09:48:52

Pride bring “celebrated” in NT properties may be supremely irrelevant and an offensive invasion of the privacy of former owners as it was at Felbrigg Hall.
Slavery is a different matter and I am all for explanatory texts where appropriate - but would not, for instance want to see volunteer guides or room stewards dressed up as slaves or plantation owners!
How does wearing a rainbow lanyard add to the educational value of Cragside I wonder, or face painting or glitter on a middle aged room steward to the Birmingham back-to-backs?
Puerile and virtue signalling are an excellent description.

eazybee Tue 15-Jun-21 09:52:23

I have rescinded my membership of the National Trust three times, the first being when they took a political stance about fox-hunting, the second as a protest against the disgraceful, dirty catering facilities at Corfe Castle and Studland Beach, and the third when I was given an unsolicited lecture in the carpark at Blickling Hall by a visiting NT member who overheard comments we made, another place where they had also outed the deceased owner as gay despite family objections, at the same time as the fandango at Felbrigg.

Sad, because so many of the properties are beautifully maintained and run by knowledgeable, courteous and unpaid volunteers who have not the slightest interest in making political points but only in helping visitors appreciate and understand the treasures before them.

MawBe Tue 15-Jun-21 09:56:51

Alegrias1

I went to the re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn on its 700th anniversary. It was fab.

I don't need someone dressed as Mary Queen of Scots to help me understand the history of Stirling Castle, just a good guide, please.

Wow! As someone who has dressed up and delivered re-enactments and presentations of historic events I can safely say you are definitely the exception. Most people love them
Good for “most people” , Trisher and I am not knocking what you do, but bearing in mind that your audience may range from those with an elementary grasp of history (mostly forgotten ) from their school days to those who may equally be experts in their field, I prefer to subscribe to the knowledgeable and “good guide” school of thought

DillytheGardener Tue 15-Jun-21 10:01:29

It has only been 50 odd years since homosexuality was decriminalised. I think that celebrating pride is a fantastic thing, especially as we well know gay people are still subject to homophobia and attacks.
Why not make these places like NT a place that is welcoming and tolerant? Us boomers won’t be around forever and their current programme seems to be attracting theyounger generation. My niece in her early twenties has become a member with her boyfriend because she thinks they seem ‘less fusty’, so for those they are losing they picking up with new members from a different audience. The last time I was at a NT property there were more young couples and families than us over fifties so they can’t pander to one audiences anti ‘woke’ tastes.

And regarding slavery and the NT, no one is suggesting that volunteers will be dressing up as slaves, that is just ridiculous. People have though been complaining about the report into the links between slavery and individual NT properties and the inclusion of this research at said nt properties.

The author of the report received death threats. I cannot understand why facts are so upsetting to a percentage of the population.