Hillary McGrady, Director-General of the National Trust, received the threats in the wake of a pushback against the organisation’s perceived wokeness. Ms McGrady, who said that many people were “really cross and angry”, did not report the intimidation to the police as she said, “it comes with the territory”. But she added: “There were also people really delighted and relieved that we’re finally looking at the history that they want to learn.”
This came after the National Trust began an effort to learn more about the history of its properties, publishing a report last year that found 93 of its properties had connections with colonialism and slavery.
But speaking about the threats, Ms McGrady said the author of the study “had a much harder time”.
People hit out at the report, claiming it to be an assault on national heritage.
Anti-woke group ‘Restore Trust’ also attempted to win seats on the National Trust’s governing council at its annual general meeting last October.
Their aim, they said, was to return the trust “back to its core purpose of looking after our heritage and countryside”, claiming that they represented grassroots opposition to the National Trust’s “woke” agenda.
Three candidates from the group were elected to the council, which has 36 seats, but one has denied endorsing the group’s values.
The Director-General said she would like to “engage” with the group, but criticised what she called a “war of words”.
She said: “I would like to engage with them honestly and openly.
“What isn’t helpful is a war of words. I’m really up for having those conversations…
“I have to accept I can’t lead an organisation of this scale and not take on these challenges.”
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“But if [people] want to come along and walk around the garden and have a lovely cup of tea, I am delighted about that.
“Why would I be prescriptive as to how people should engage with the National Trust?”
The National Trust plans to continue its mission to uncover more information about its properties’ histories, with the Director-General saying that the Trust has an “obligation” to tell the story.
She said: “Every day we uncover another bit of history.
“We have an obligation to tell this huge, complex, layered story of the history of the three countries we’re responsible for.
“The idea that history stands still is nonsense because you keep finding new things.”
She added: “The next step is, property by property, to [ask if] we need to do more research.
“And how would we weave that into the story so that we get a whole history of the place?
“It will take a long time, to be honest.”