The United States may be celebrating its independence from the British Crown this weekend, but the shared history between the two countries joins us together. Even the most English of institutions, like the National Trust, oozes US history, and some of our dearest American traditions can be traced back to our English roots.
When traveling abroad, Royal Oak members will find themselves right at home visiting these National Trust properties with National Trust connections. Join Now
Ightham Mote (pronounced “item moat”) is a charming, moated property not far outside London in Kent. It dates back to the 14th century, but in the 20th century American Charles Henry Robinson, Jr. purchased the endangered house after seeing an ad in Country Life magazine. He preserved the property before donating it to the National Trust, who have cared for it for the past 30 years. The Robinson family is still deeply involved with Ightham Mote – in fact, we spoke to Charles Henry Robinson’s nephew for our Summer 2015 newsletter. You can read his reflection on the property and his family’s history with it here.
Dyrham Park was built by William Blathwayt, a key civil servant to the crown in the colonial United States. Blathwayt acquired much of the building materials and the house’s collection through his extensive colonial network in the late 17th century, meaning many of the objects within the house, and indeed the house itself, have their roots in the US.
Royal Oak supported National Rupert Goulding as he researched Blathwayt’s work stateside; you can read Goulding’s thoughts on the Dyrham-US nexus here.
Runnymede, where the nobles and the King made history with the Magna Carta 800 years ago, has prominent connections to the US.
Not only does the US owe the foundational principles of the Constitution to the Magna Carta, but some of the most prominent monuments at Runnymede have come from this side of the Atlantic. The Magna Carta Memorial was donated by the American Bar Association and the Kennedy Memorial was unveiled in 1965 by Jackie Kennedy. Become the next US visitor to walk this storied meadow with your Royal Oak membership.
Cliveden was the home of the US-born Nancy Astor, who married fellow ex-pat Waldorf Astor. Nancy Astor ultimately got into politics, and became the first woman in Parliament after she took her seat on the House of Lords.
Cliveden is an Italian-style country home on the banks of the Thames and is a must-visit for any US visitors to the UK!
Henry James, that ever-present bridge between the Europe and the Americas, between old money and new, wrote three books at Lamb House, Sussex. While the Garden Room, where he primarily worked in the house, was destroyed by a German bomb in 1940, the house retains the character of James and the grounds contain the graves of the author’s beloved dogs.
Bonus: Ben Franklin House
History buffs can find Ben Franklin’s only surviving home not in his native Philadelphia, but in London. The house is now a museum, and Royal Oak members enjoy 1/2 price admission to it year-round. While it is not a National Trust property, it’s a must for any US history aficionado visiting London.