This summer, many of you will be traveling overseas. A resource you should know about is England’s Landmark Trust. For more than 30 years, throughout this island, the Trust has been rescuing buildings that have fallen into disrepair or are in danger of demolition. Many are not suited for permanent, year-round residences, or their conversion would be too expensive. So the Landmark Trust acquires and lovingly restores them as vacation rentals.
Accommodations are not meant to be luxurious. All are electrified, have modern plumbing and kitchens and are comfortably furnished. However, it’s not the Trust’s intent to create museums but to give guests the feel of living in a historic home. As their handbook explains: “A stay in a landmark is meant to be not just a holiday but an experience of a mildly elevating kind, a fresh window on life, to be looked through or not, as you please.”
The advantage of actually living in a historic building, as opposed to renting a room in a hotel or inn, is that you get the flavor of the town and its surroundings while also being able to study, first-hand the architecture, construction and methods of restoration-a a sense of living in a bit of history.
The Trust has more that 200 buildings-most in the country, but some in the cities and a few in Scotland and Rome. For those interested in a certain architectural style or time period, there are many choices. A few of the unique ones include:
Egyptian House in Penzance, Cornwall-constructed in 1835 in the style favored after Napoleon’s 1798 Egyptian campaign. Originally built with a geological museum on ground level and residences upstairs, it showcases the varieties of stones deposited on Penzance beach by early glaciers.
Gothic Temple in Stowe, Buckingham-triangular in plan with turrets at each point. The round turrets house the bedrooms, bath and kitchen. The center of the triangle is a large, round two story room with an elaborately painted ceiling.
Hill House in Helensburgh, Glasgow- designed, along with everything inside, by the famous Scottish architect C.R. Macintosh in 1902. The Trust rents out a flat.
Lundy Island, off England’s southwest coast- a secluded spot reached only by boat or plane. Featuring granite cliffs topped with heather and picturesque stone walls, the island has only 20 permanent residents- and no cars. The trust has renovated 20 of the numerous buildings, including two of the island’s three lighthouses. Stay n a castle built by Henry III in the mid- 1200’s or at classically inspired Millcombe House built is 1835 with an inward-slopping roof designed to catch rainwater.
Pineapple House in Dunmore Stirlingshire, Scotland-aesthically, the most unusual of the buildings available through the Landmark Trust. Built in 1761 as a two–story summer house, it has a large pineapple rising above the entrance of the otherwise classically designed structure.
The Trust rents its properties year round. Many sleep more than two-some as many as 12 to 16-which makes them ideal for family vacations or large groups. A few even accommodate “well-behaved” pets. For more information or a handbook with detailed descriptions of the buildings, write the Trust’s U.S. office at 28 Birge Street, Brattleboro, VT. 05301 or call (802) 254-6868.
*Published in NFocus magazine July 1998