Anger as National Trust car parks now charge per passenger at Dunham Massey and Lyme Park

Furious customers have criticised the National Trust after it switched from a per-car parking price – to a per-person charge at Dunham Massey and Lyme Park.

In the past, customers paid one price to park, no matter how many people were in the car, when they wanted to stroll the grounds of Dunham Massey and Lyme Park. Similarly, if one adult in the car had a membership, the whole party could park for free.

However, after changes introduced following Covid-reopening, now only the member is free – so any non-members in the car, including children, have to pay to park, CheshireLive reports.

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As you might expect, this means families are hit hard by the changes.

For a family of two adults and two children who weren’t members, this would be an increase from £7 per car to £24. For a similar family where one adult was a member, it would go from being free to park to now costing £16.

But, customers do get an additional bonus – entry to the house and gardens is now free as part of the parking charges, although for those who wish to walk their dogs, this isn’t an option.

Others have complained that the houses and gardens are not appealing to younger children, who come primarily to access the parks and play areas, which were previously free.

Angry customers have taken to TripAdvisor to complain.

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Reviewer Ian C visited Dunham Massey earlier in the summer. He said: “National Trust at Dunham Massey have now changed their parking policy from free parking for members and their passengers to members only, and £8 each for non-members, even in the same car.

“Therefore a member and two none member passengers have to pay £16. This is just to enter the grounds whether you want visit the house or not. Membership now well and truly cancelled.”

Reviewer AnnLou15 also went to Dunham Massey: “Partly my fault for not researching the prices before visiting but I feel the need to warn others in case they too arrive here on impulse.

Members of the public walk in the grounds of the National Trust’s Dunham Massey Park
(Image: Getty Images)

“Arrived on a Monday morning joined the queue for the car park, no signs indicating prices until you are 2 cars away from the toll booth with no way of turning round! We were the told price for 2 adults and the car ‘£16 please”'(£8 each) – gardens, grounds and house included.

“Only thing is we only wanted to park the car and walk around the grounds, apparently, this wasn’t an option! Too embarrassed….again my fault…I paid the price but it left a sour taste despite the park being beautiful. You can ordinarily walk around the grounds for free, the house wasn’t worth a look if I’m honest though the gardens were lovely. Therefore the price tag was not warranted in my opinion!

“I suggest Dunham Massey is more transparent about its prices earlier on in the drive down towards the car park with an option for people to change their minds and turn round if they deem it too expensive.”

Reviewer Barbara F had a similar experience at Lyme Park: “National Trust seem to have brought new pricing policies at some of their car parks. Both at Lyme park and Dunham Massey the cost to park for non Trust members is £8 per adult and £4per child. As N.T. members not a problem unless you have non N.T. passengers, in our case 2 grandchildren. We did not want to visit the house and as the playground is closed, I think the charge is extortionate!

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“Lyme Park has public footpaths running through meaning pedestrians and cyclists do not have to pay. It makes sense to leave only the driver in the car, with any non members walking in. Both here and at Dunham the pricing policy isn’t displayed until you are stuck in the traffic jam of a queue.”

A statement for the National Trust said: “As a charity, admission fees help us fund vital conservation work at our places. These fees go directly to properties, allowing us to care for these special places for many years to come.

Lyme Park
(Image: Linzi Perriman)

“By moving to a per person single admission price at Dunham Massey and Lyme, we have brought these two important places in line with other local attractions. We think this pricing model represents good value for money for a full day out, giving visitors an opportunity to explore these vast estates, including historic houses, gardens, and parklands.

“For frequent visitors who enjoy walks in the parkland at these places, an annual membership would be a cost-effective way to enjoy unlimited visits while also supporting our work to care for Dunham Massey and Lyme.”

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