National Trust members reject pressure group proposals at AGM - Museums Association

National Trust members reject pressure group proposals at AGM

Restore Trust unsuccessful as voters turn out in record numbers
National Trust
Voters rejected a proposal to fully restore Clandon Park House, which was devastated by fire in 2015
Voters rejected a proposal to fully restore Clandon Park House, which was devastated by fire in 2015 Wikimedia Commons

National Trust members have voted against five election candidates endorsed by Restore Trust, the pressure group set up three years ago to oppose the current direction of the charity.

The breakaway group, which says the trust is being steered away from its mandate by “modish, divisive ideologies”, also failed in its attempt to get two resolutions passed, amid a record voting turnout of 156,000 members at this year’s AGM on 11 November.

Restore Trust ran a concerted campaign in the run-up to the AGM, including paid-for adverts on social media featuring well-known figures such as Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and regular media coverage.

In spite of these efforts, candidates endorsed by Restore Trust for the trust’s council elections – Philip Gibbs, Andrew Gimson, Violet Manners, Philip Merricks and the former supreme court judge Jonathan Sumption – were unsuccessful, receiving less than 50,000 votes each. 

The five members elected to the 36-person council were James Dixon, Inga Grimsey, Sarah Hollingdale, Simon Kearey and Michael Salter-Church.

Meanwhile, two resolutions proposed by Restore Trust were not carried.


The group had proposed the removal of the trust’s “unfair” quick vote system, which highlights to voting members which motions are in line with the wishes of trustees. The resolution did not carry, with 60,327 voting for and 69,715 against.

Members also rejected Restore Trust’s resolution for the full interior and exterior restoration of Clandon Park House in Surrey, which was destroyed by a fire in 2015. The trust’s current plans are for the exterior conservation and reroofing of the building. The resolution did not carry, with 49,065 voting for and 74,298 against.

A further resolution on the removal of council election recommendations also failed to carry, with 51,071 in favour and 73,503 against.

Voters supported a resolution to improve walking and cycling access to properties, which was carried by 114,422 votes in favour and 7,966 against.

Trustees will consider the outcomes of the resolutions later this autumn before updating members.

René Olivieri, chair of the National Trust’s board of trustees, said: “Our AGM is a celebration of everything it means to be a National Trust member […]


“I would like to thank all our members who took the time to join us today, either in person or online. The board of trustees will now take some time to reflect on the outcomes of voting and we will be back in touch with members through our usual channels in the coming weeks.”

Hilary McGrady, director-general of the National Trust, said: “I’m very proud of our democratic traditions at the National Trust […]

“As another AGM draws to a close, it’s important for us to reflect on the questions, observations and experiences that members have shared with us today. These opportunities to listen, debate and inspire are part of what makes the National Trust special and I encourage all our members to make their voice heard by taking part in next year’s AGM.”

Comments (8)

  1. J Michael Phillips says:

    I am surprised to find the MA supporting the decision of the National Trust to pocket the £63,000,000 insurance payout rather than restore Clandon House. The fire destroyed the Surrey Infantry Museum whose artefacts are now condemned to repose in a cramped storeroom above the Surrey History Centre in Woking, which I have visited. I would have thought that the MA should be seeking to support this museum.
    J Michael Phillips MSocSc MA AMA

    1. Elliott King says:

      I fail to see where in the article it is stated that MA support the decision, they are simply reporting a matter of fact, without making a comment on it. It is a matter of fact that the resolution did not pass.

    2. John Orna-Ornstein says:

      Just to correct a factual inaccuracy. No insurance money from Clandon will be ‘pocketed’ by the National Trust. The full insurance payout, and more, will be used at the site.

    3. Geraldine Kendall Adams says:

      Hi there, thank you for your comments. Just to clarify, the MA has not made any response to the National Trust’s position – this is a Museums Journal news story reporting on the outcome of the AGM, not a position statement.

      I’d be happy to chat if you’d like to discuss further news coverage of this situation, please do get in touch with me at

  2. Ben Jones says:

    I’m always saddened and amazed how much of a voice entryist groups like Restore Trust are given in the mainstream media compared to their actual popularity, level of respect or influence within their sector, which is invariably incredibly small.

    1. Robert Norton says:

      Each one of the Restore Trust resolutions attracted more than 40% of the members votes – indicating that Restore Trust has a considerable amount of popularity, respect and influence amoung the National Trust members.

      So it looks like your real issue is the fact that people outside of your self congratulory clique have dared to challenge the status quo.

      1. Ben Jones says:

        The directorate of Restore Trust are mostly Oxbridge educated/employed or have existing channels to positions of power.
        One of the recurring thing with populists is to position themselves as outsiders whilst coming from decidedly inside, establishment positions.

  3. Robert Norton says:

    Initially, you accused them of being subversive and them went on to say they are part of the establishment. The view from your ivory tower must be pretty out of focus for that kind of twisted logic.

    A large number of National Trust members support Restore Trust, which in itself explains the level of media coverage. Just because you disagree with them doesn’t mean that their views don’t count.

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