I’d never heard of the National Art Pass until I saw it on offer through my employer’s benefits scheme. It’s open to anyone, you just pay a yearly membership fee and you get free and discounted entry to museums and art galleries across the UK.
When my membership pack arrived in the mail and I started flicking through the Art Guide, I realised that you also can get free entry to a number of English Heritage and National Trust properties including Eltham Palace, Chiswick House, Knightshayes, Osborne House and loads more. If you’re tossing up between an English Heritage membership and a National Trust membership, a National Art Pass might be a good option as it gives you a taste of both.
In order to get the most value out of my National Art Pass, I’ve set myself a goal of visiting at least one property per month. During May I’ve used my membership to gain free entry to two English Heritage properties:
Also known as Number One, London, Apsley House is the London townhouse of the Dukes of Wellington. It’s located on Hyde Park Corner, just across the road from the Wellington Arch. I must have walked past this house dozens of times but only recently learned that it’s open to the public. It doesn’t really grab your attention from the outside so the grand interior really took me by surprise. Unfortunately they don’t allow photography inside so I can’t show you how amazing it is but I thoroughly recommend you check this place out. Apsley House is open Wed-Sun from 11am-5pm, admission is £8.30 for adults or free with an English Heritage membership or National Art Pass.
Located on the edge of Greenwich Park, Ranger’s House is a pretty 1720s villa, once the home of aristocratic and royal park rangers. It now houses the The Wernher Collection, a remarkable art collection assembled by Sir Julius Wernher who was a diamond magnate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I think I was expecting something a bit more like Apsley House before I visited and Ranger’s House itself is definitely not as spectacular on the inside, but The Wernher Collection was quite fascinating to see, even for someone like me who’s not all that into art. I’m not sure I’d make a special trip for it but if you were having a day out in Greenwich then I’d say it’s worth stopping by. The Pink Drawing Room and Gallery Room are definitely the highlights. Again, photography is not permitted inside but some of the rooms are quite small which would make taking nice photos a bit tricky anyway.
Ranger’s House is open Sun-Wed but is only viewable by guided tour, tours run at 11am and 2pm and last about an hour. The English Heritage website recommends that you book in advance but I didn’t do this as it was a bit of a last minute decision. I just showed up for the 2pm tour on a Sunday and nobody was turned away.