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Planning Retirement Online

A wonderful excuse to go on holiday!                     

                                           June 2010  


The Landmark Trust

A wonderful excuse to go on holiday!

Gothic templeA girl friend of mine goes off every year with a few friends to stay in Landmark Trust properties around the UK. I never really gave it much thought, assuming it was a similar scheme to the National Trust; but recently she announced she was going to stay in a Landmark Trust’s beautiful historic villa just outside Rome. When she mentioned the villa had been begun in 850 AD but had walls from an earlier villa that may have been owned by the poet Horace, I began to take more of an interest.

Asking other friends, it seemed few of them had heard of the Landmark Trust, yet what a great job it does. It is actually a charity that was started up in the 1960s by Sir John and Lady Smith who were concerned about the number of historic and architecturally interesting buildings falling into decay.

They came up with the idea of acquiring the properties, doing them up, and then letting them out for holidays. The money made from holiday lets would then plan for future restoration and maintenance of other buildings. Many of us have great ideas that come to nothing, but Sir John and Lady Smith persevered and gradually the charity took off. More buildings were acquired, more holiday bookings came in, and today the Landmark Trust is a thriving organisation, offering a wide selection of unusual and remarkable buildings around the UK and now overseas as well for holiday lets.

Landmark Trust property interiorHelping a worthy charity is a wonderful excuse to go on holiday!
The properties they offer are all distinct in some way for their architecture, history or setting. Some are tiny with just two bedrooms, others are mansions that can cater for large parties. You can stay in castles, follies, towers, and banqueting houses.

There is certainly no uniformity among the properties. Tangy Mill, for instance, situated on the southern end of Kintyre in south west Scotland, has all its machinery for dressing, drying, hoisting and grinding in place; the stones, shuts and backshot wheel have been kept, little has been changed from when it was a working mill apart from the necessities to make a comfortable stay for guests – in a totally unique atmosphere. Bath Tower, in Caernarfon, North Wales, offers a totally different experience. The tower is one of the towers of the medieval town wall overlooking the Menai Strait; its entrances alone are not something you normally encounter – one along a narrow alley from the street behind and the other from the sea wall. The large rooms have thick curving walls and the sitting room is reached by a steep spiral staircase.

If that is too mundane for you, what about a gothic temple! This Landmark property, in Stowe in Buckinghamshire, was built as one of the last additions to the famous landscaped gardens at Stowe formed for Lord Cobham. Inside, the rooms are all circular, with moulded stone pilasters and plaster vaults – the main vault of the central space being gorgeously painted with heraldry. To be on the first floor gallery surrounded by so much important architecture is exceptional; and at the top of the staircase there is a belvedere with stone seats. Like to many Landmark Trust properties, it is quite an experience to stay here.

Landmark Trust castleDespite the unusual surroundings, each property is fully furnished for a comfortable holiday let with well –equipped kitchens. Towels and linen are provided and beds are made up in advance ready for guests.

Altogether there are around 190 extraordinary properties under the care of the Landmark Trust, 190 exceptional locations for an exciting and unusual holiday! While most are in the UK, they do offer a growing selection in Italy now and they also have a property in France – the former weekend resident of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

What better excuse for a few days away than saying...well, I think this weekend we ought to go and help a charity!



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