The National Trust is an independent charity in the United Kingdom dedicated to the preservation of protection of historic buildings, stately homes, gardens, the countryside and coastlines - "places of historic interest or natural beauty" - in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the National Trust for Scotland does similarly north of the border). It was founded in 1895 by philanthropist and housing reformer Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter (who had been involved with the Commons Preservation Society) and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Hill described the need underlying the Trust:
The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and..the sight of sky and of things growing seem human needs, common to all men.
The first land acquired by the Trust was Dinas Oleu in Snowdonia, Wales, donated in 1895 by Fanny Talbot; the first house was the Clergy House in Alfriston, Sussex, bought for £10 in 1896; and the first wildlife sanctuary was Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, bought in 1899, also at a cost of £10.
The National Trust Act of 1937 enabled owners of valuable properties to bequeath them to the Trust in lieu of death duties but continue to live in them.
The National Trust manages over 200 buildings and gardens across the nation, as well as over 600,000 acres of countryside and over 70 miles of coastline