The National Trust, formally the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the largest membership organisation in the United Kingdom. The trust describes itself as "a charity that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces—for ever, for everyone". The trust was founded in 1895 and given statutory powers, starting with the National Trust Act 1907. Historically, the trust tended to focus on English country houses, which still make up the largest part of its holdings, but it also protects historic landscapes such as in the Lake District, historic urban properties, and nature reserves. In Scotland, there is an independent National Trust for Scotland. The Trust has special powers to prevent land being sold off or mortgaged, although this can be over-ridden by Parliament. The National Trust has been the beneficiary of many large donations and bequests. It owns over 350 heritage properties, which includes many historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments, and social history sites. Most of these are open to the public, usually for a charge. Others are leased, on terms that manage to preserve their character.
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