National Trust Family Membership Experiment 2014

On Sunday March 2nd 2014 I visited the National Trust at Dunwich Heath with my husband and two young children who are both under five. We are not planning to go away far on holiday this year so we decided to sign-up for a years  membership while we were there.

Joint membership in 2014 costs £95 and allows our two under fives to enter free of charge. If you don’t mind joining online and paying via direct debit you can also join for the first year discounted rate of £71.62.

We live just outside Norwich within easy reach of a handful of National Trust properties. I think the number of near by properties will be typical of most people in the country.  So now the big questions is will we get value for money from our £95 “all you can eat” investment or would it have been more cost effective to pay the entry fee at each property “pay as you go” style?  Well to try and answer this between now and March 1st 2015 I’m going to detail below all the National Trust properties we visit and what it would have cost if we had to pay for each separately.

March 1st: Dunwich Heath

Car  Parking £5
We had a lovely lunch and walk on the beach.  You can’t fault the food but it does seem strange that they don’t offer a discount on food and drink to members.

Running total: £95 less £5 = £90


March 15th: Blickling Estate and Hall

Car  Parking £2.50 Entrance to gardens £8.95 x 2 – we didn’t have time or really feel like doing the house with two toddlers on this occasion if we had that would have been £13.50 each instead. To me £8.95 per adult feels a bit pricey for just the gardens.

We had an excellent lunch and then a lovely walk around the gardens.

It’s worth noting that you can park and then go to the restaurant, gift shop a little museum and walk around the front of the grounds free of charge.

Running total: £90 less £2.50+£8.95+£8.95 = £69.60

May 4th: Dunwich Heath

Car Parking £5
We took the family back again for a lovely Sunday roast and then a long walk on the beach followed by a run into Southwold to finish the afternoon off nicely.

Running total: £69.60 less £5 = £64.60


June 23rd: Oxburgh Hall

Car Parking £Free
Entrance to House and Gardens £9.40 x 2 = £18.80
We had a morning at this National Trust property on our way home after a long weekend in North Norfolk.

Running total: £64.60 less £18.80 = £45.80


June 26th:  Dunwich Heath

Car Parking £5
We had a day out in Aldeburgh and called in to use the cafe and pop down to the beach for an hour on the way home. If we hadn’t been members we probably wouldn’t have bothered as £5 to park the car is just too much for me.

Running total: £45.80 less £5 = £40.80

So after about 4 months of being members we’ve reached the halfway point in terms of recovering the cost of our investment.  With the best of the summer ahead of us (hopefully) we’re on track to at least break-even.  However we are now really struggling for new National Trust places to visit in the area so we’ll probably start going over the same ground – not necessarily a bad thing. We loved Oxburgh Hall and want to go back when we get a chance.