National Trust and English Heritage
‘The preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and, as regards lands, for the preservation of their natural aspect, features and animal and plant life. Also the preservation of furniture, pictures and chattels of any description having national and historic or artistic interest.’
English Heritage – http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about-us/our-values/
‘Authenticity – We seek to be true to the story of the places and artefacts that we look after and present. We don’t exaggerate or make things up for entertainment’s sake. Instead, through careful research, we separate fact from fiction and bring fascinating truth to light.
Quality – We pursue the highest standards in all our work, from the service we provide to our visitors to the quality of our communications, from the way our events are run to the standard of our conservation work.
Imagination – We seek to be imaginative in the way that history is brought to life, thinking creatively, using the most effective means, surprising and delighting people. We want each experience to be vivid, alive and unforgettable.
Responsibility – We take the responsibilities of our different roles very seriously, whether as host to millions of visitors or conserving some of England’s finest historic sites and artefacts.
Fun – We want people to enjoy their time with us. That doesn’t mean we are frivolous or superficial. We want to provide experiences that elicit emotion as well as stimulate the mind. We want to entertain as well as inspire.’
As one can see from the above, both charities have basically the same aims and objectives, so it makes sense if they merged and formed one organisation. Although they have different cultures, with English Heritage formerly being a Government-run organisation, I am sure that a merger would work and bring benefits, especially in terms of administrative processes. Also, when it comes to buying materials for restoration work, they might be able to make savings. When it comes to using specialists, there would be a bigger pool to call upon. Obviously, as it will become a bigger charity, structures need to be such that they do engage the ordinary member at the local level, so as to encourage full participation. I also think that being ‘bigger’, they will have more ‘clout’ with funding organisations as well as Government regarding policy on conservation. With so much property, land and artefacts to conserve, much funding is required, so streamlining processes can make all the difference. Such a merger will also raise the ‘profile’ of the importance of conservation in the public’s eye and in the media.
As these two organisations only cover England and Wales, maybe the ones in Scotland and Northern Ireland should do the same. Whether they should all come under one roof and whether there should be a separate one for Wales, I do not know.
Importance of Conservation?
I have mentioned the importance of conservation but how important is it when it comes to prioritising the use finance when there are so many needs? One could say, every need is equal to a certain extent. Conservation of our history is important in helping us understanding how things are today, including from a legal point of view with regard to ownership. But, then one could say have we learnt any lessons from the past with the mess we are in? On the other hand, visiting these properties and gardens is part of leading a balanced life – stimulating our brains in different ways and helping us to relax, so that there is a change from work and household responsibilities. If things are presented well, and supported by enthusiastic staff, it can be a most enjoyable time and stimulates our sense of curiosity!