Sir Charles Trevelyan

About the end of 1928, forty-six people formed the Northumbrian Trampers Guild to provide places where their members could stay when out walking. The group of keen walkers and cyclists, many of them members of young people’s organisations, in Newcastle picked Sir Charles Trevelyan as their President.

His support was vital to the guild. He was a generous man, willing to share his wealth, his home and its grounds. One of the six shelters they opened was in the grounds of Sir Charles’ home at Wallington Hall.

He encouraged workers on the estate to borrow books from the hall’s library and in 1936 he gave the estate to the National Trust. He was one of the first do so. He had seen too many estates broken down, stripped and their contents sold. He thought a vital part of England’s heritage was lost when those houses were sold off and he wanted to stop that happening to his home.

Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, third baronet, was born on 28 October 1870. He was the eldest son of Sir George Otto Trevelyan (1838–1928), a politician and historian, and his wife, Caroline.

Sir Charles and his brother George Macaulay Trevelyan, were educated at Harrow and Cambridge. His brother became a historian but Sir Charles went into politics. He had served the government in Northern Ireland and then, bored, gave up the job, and returned to England.

He was elected as the Liberal MP for Elland, Yorkshire in 1899. He was one of the first MPs to bring a bill before parliament to give legal access to open countryside.

When the first world war began, he opposed the war and resigned from the government, losing his seat as an MP in the 1918 General Election. In 1922 he returned to parliament as Labour MP for the Newcastle Central constituency.

He was president of the Board of Education in Labour governments between January and November 1924 and between 1929 and 1931. He fought to lower sectarian barriers in schools, to raise the school leaving age, and to make the universities accessible to all. Trevelyan resigned in March 1931, when his education bill was defeated, and he lost his seat as an MP in the 1931 election.

He inherited Wallington, along with his father’s baronetcy, in 1928. Trevelyan was well suited to be a supporter of the Trampers Guild, and of youth hostels, with his love of walking and the countryside, particularly the wide open spaces of Northumberland and its moorlands.

In 1930 the Trampers Guild gave its hostels and funds to the new Northumberland regional group of youth hostels.  The hostel at Wallington became one of the first in the north east of England with Lady Trevelyan as it hostess and Sir Charles as first president of the group.  Until his death in 1958 Sir Charles was an ardent supporter of youth hostels giving funds, property and support, most memorably for the youth hostel at Once Brewed.

This is an extract of notes made while writing Open to All, how youth hostels changed the world, the story of Sir Charles’ involvement in youth hostels is covered in the book along with the story of others like his brother George Macaulay, first president of YHA.

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