The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up in 1980 to save the most outstanding parts of the British national heritage, in memory of those who have given their lives for the UK. It replaced the National Land Fund which had fulfilled the same function since 1946. It received £20 million Government grant in aid between 2011–2015, allowing for an annual budget of between £4 million and £5 million.
Between 1980 and 2020, £368 million was spent by the NHMF. Nearly a third (over £106 million) was spent on buildings and monuments, and nearly £194 million was spent on paintings, furniture and other objects. A diverse list of over 1,200 heritage items have been safeguarded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, including:
National Trust country house acquisitions funded through the NHMF include Calke Abbey, Belton House, Kedleston Hall and Chastleton House. In addition, NHMF intervention helped Burton Constable Hall, Paxton House, Thirlestane Castle, Hopetoun House, Weston Park and Wentworth Woodhouse to be established as independent charitable trusts. NHMF funds were also used to rescue parts of the collections at Powderham Castle, Althorp, Castle Howard, Highclere Castle, Belvoir Castle and Mount Stuart House.
The NHMF is funded by grant-in-aid from the UK Government through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
In 1993 NHMF was given the responsibility for distributing the share of heritage funding from the National Lottery for the heritage good cause. It does this through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.