About the NHMF

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is a resource of last resort used to save some of the UK’s finest heritage which is at risk of being lost to the nation.

Early days

In 1946, the-then Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton set up the National Land Fund, allocating it £50m to purchase land and buildings for the nation. He described it as a ''thank-offering for victory and a war memorial … finer than any work of art in stone or bronze''.

However, the fund remained largely unused and by 1957 it had been reduced to only £10m a year.

National Heritage Act

In 1977, the sale of the historic Mentmore Towers caused great public outcry and triggered the rejuvenation of the National Land Fund.

On the death of the 6th Earl of Rosebery, the government had declined to buy the Grade I listed country house and its contents in lieu of death duties. As a consequence, the collection of precious art and objects was sold through a public auction.

The loss sparked the passing of a new National Heritage Act in 1980. As part of the Act, the NHMF was launched as a “memorial to those who have died for the United Kingdom”. It was given an independent board of Trustees and allocated the money remaining in the National Land Fund as well as an annual grant.

This new Fund was to be used for grants to help acquire, maintain or preserve for the nation any land, building or structure, or any object or collection, which is of outstanding scenic, historic, aesthetic, architectural, scientific or artistic interest.


In 1994, the NHMF and its Trustees was appointed distributor of the heritage share of the National Lottery’s funds for Good Causes, which it now operates through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

HLF is the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK. It offers opportunities for conserving the nation’s heritage with emphasis on improved access, learning and engagement.

The NHMF continues to act as the fund of last resort for some of our nation’s greatest treasures.

It receives grant-in-aid of £5m annually from the UK government.

Find out more on the HLF website.