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How membership supports heritage

By becoming a member you're helping to safeguard the future of our member places - in two ways

Key membership card Sudeley

Every member of Historic Houses provides vital support for our important work.

We’re an association – Britain’s independent heritage working together – and our primary role is to represent and advise the heritage sites who have pooled their efforts in Historic Houses. Membership helps fund our policy work, research, and technical advice.

Find out more about our work

We also contribute directly to the income of some of our member places through ‘member credit’ – a payment we make to member attractions who offer free admission to our members, each time you use your card to visit.

Find out more about how our ‘member-access scheme’ works, and how it benefits those member places who participate, below.

What you need to know about member access

Sandwich board portrait orientation Middleton

It's about economics

Member access makes a vital financial contribution to heritage

Member access is carefully designed to only operate when it benefits you and the property at the same time. Where (or when) it doesn’t make financial sense for an attraction to offer free entry, they won’t, and they’re not obliged to.

Great value for visitors

Membership is the most economic way for heritage connoisseurs to seek out and visit more historic houses, castles, and gardens all across the UK. Every extra trip makes all your visits cheaper, so there’s a real incentive to take more outings than you would have done if you were buying your ticket each time. For those who pore over the annual handbook or website looking for hidden gems that they haven’t ticked off yet, membership can mean huge savings.

Extra income for houses and gardens

Historic Houses member places are, on average, less visited than similar attractions such as National Trust properties, and extra footfall from additional visits can make an important contribution towards earning the cash they need to pay for their own upkeep. Participating attractions can claim a small sum from Historic Houses for each of our members they admit for free, on top of the money visitors may have spent in the café or gift shop.

The tweaks that make it work

In a small number of cases, our member places have the opposite problem – not too few visitors, but too many. It’s a nice problem to have, but the huge crowds who go to, for example, Blenheim Palace or Hever Castle can impose significant extra costs in the form of staffing needs and wear-and-tear.

At these unusual member places, member access only makes sense with some restrictions – either a cap on the number of times per year our members can visit for free, or limiting free visiting to off-peak times when the grounds and rooms are quieter and there is spare capacity.

The same reasoning explains why free access isn’t offered to special events, to non-heritage attractions like exhibitions or adventure playgrounds, or for members who are part of a pre-booked coach party. In none of those scenarios is the property likely to be suffering from low footfall, so a policy of free access could actually undermine, rather than bolster, their efforts to maintain the site for future generations.

Sword wall display Penshurst

It's best for discovering new places

We're not a substitute for a season ticket but we help you find hidden gems

There are so many places that offer free entry to our members, and most are virtually unknown. We really want you to discover and visit the less famous ones. Our houses and gardens are all over the UK – you might just as easily find one on holiday at other end of the country as you might on your own doorstep. Going off the beaten track and calling in at places that you’ve never heard of and might never have seen otherwise is the perfect way to get the most out of membership.

The flip side is that, because of the way the scheme works as we’ve described it above, you you should not join it because you especially want to visit one particular place, especially if you aim ti go there on a regular basis.

You’ll find the added restrictions that come with our card put you at a disadvantage compared with those who’ve joined the property’s own loyalty scheme. They might even have to withdraw their offer of free entry unexpectedly, leaving you having to pay anyway. And we would rather you supported a member property of ours directly where that’s more appropriate – after all, we exist only for their benefit. So in that instance, get the attraction’s season ticket instead.

You might want to be savvy and flexible with the dates you can visit on, too, to get to the most interesting places. Some attractions open on a regular basis for the majority of the year, and have the car parks and cafes, guides and gift shops you might expect from a tourist business. But most are essentially people’s private homes, into which they invite the public on a fascinating and often quirky journey of discovery for anything from a few days to a few weeks a year. These places aren’t your average day out, but a visit will reward those who keep their eyes peeled for the dates the doors open.

Become a Historic Houses member

Explore the nation’s heritage from just £68 per year.

Hundreds of the most beautiful historic houses, castles, and gardens across Britain offer our members free entry.

Also: receive a quarterly magazine, enjoy monthly online lectures, get exclusive invitations to buy tickets for behind-the-scenes tours, and take up a range of special offers on holidays, books, and other products you might like.

Join now
Forde Abbey in Somerset

Not yet a member?

You can get access to hundreds of our amazing member places right now.

More reasons to join

Become a Historic Houses member

Explore the nation’s heritage from just £68 per year.

Hundreds of the most beautiful historic houses, castles, and gardens across Britain offer our members free entry.

Also: receive a quarterly magazine, enjoy monthly online lectures, get exclusive invitations to buy tickets for behind-the-scenes tours, and take up a range of special offers on holidays, books, and other products you might like.

Join now
Forde Abbey in Somerset

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