8 January 2016

Quirky, intriguing and full of charm.

By Rachel Sloane

Happy 50th birthday to the historic holiday homes of the Landmark Trust

If you want to stay in a luxury apartment or a five star villa for your holiday, The Landmark Trust’s properties may not be for you. If, however, you would enjoy a break in an historic building, comfortably well-equipped and located in some of the most beautiful parts of the UK (and with a few overseas), then one of the 200 Landmarks will be perfect. If I also explain that the historic building might be a stationmasters cottage, a folly in the shape of a pineapple or the engine house of a mine, then I am certain to have whetted your curiosity.

This month the charity, The Landmark Trust, are celebrating 50 years of saving historic and unusual buildings and turning them into self-catering holiday accommodation. In 1965, philanthropist and conservationist John Smith, with his wife Christian, set up the Trust, after deciding  "a body was required to tackle cases too desperate, troublesome or unfashionable for anyone else."

The first property to be opened was Church Cottage, in Cardigan Bay in Wales. Over the fifty years since, the charity’s portfolio of properties has expanded as unusual or historically important buildings of all shapes and sizes have been saved.

In Suffolk and Norfolk there are eleven “Landmarks”. In Suffolk they include the six-storey Tudor tower over-looking the River Orwell at Freston, near Ipswich, and the fortified Martello Tower on the beach in Aldeburgh. In Norfolk, you can stay in a Victorian water tower near Sandringham, or in a Jacobean Porch at Alwalton, near Peterborough.

When you book a Landmark the explanation of what you can expect is made very clear,

“We seek to ensure all our buildings have comfortable furniture, a well equipped kitchen, modern bathrooms and good quality bath and bed linen. All beds are made up ready for your arrival with sheets and blankets. Most Landmarks have at least one open fire or stove. In other respects they are quite different from the mainstream and none has a television, radio or telephone. Given their mainly remote locations, we are not able to provide wi-fi.”



To mark their 50th anniversary year the Landmark Trust have made some of the properties available to people who would not usually have a holiday (50 for Free) and charities applied for some of the free holidays offered. Manor Farm, in Norfolk, is where eight chosen nominees will have a well-deserved holiday and Methwold Old Vicarage, also in Norfolk, is where another five people will have a short break, courtesy of the Landmark Trust.

This month the Trust will also open 25 Landmarks for a special, celebratory open weekend across England Scotland and Wales and the buildings have been carefully picked so that 95% of the British population will be within 50 miles of an open Landmark. Two of them are in Suffolk.  


At 3pm, on 16 May, local groups, community choirs, bands, bell ringers and musicians of all sorts will simultaneously perform a specially commissioned 'Lines Loops Bones and Stones: An Anthem For Landmark' by acclaimed young composer Kerry Andrew. At Cavendish Hall, the Stour Valley Singers will perform the specially-commissioned piece, while in Aldeburgh at the Martello Tower, The Rabble Chorus, a community choir of around 250 singers, from Easton, near Framlingham, Woodbridge, Saxmundham and Needham Market, will sing.

In a ground-breaking collaboration, sculptures specially designed and created for the anniversary by Antony Gormley will be in-situ at 5 of the open Landmarks, including the Martello Tower in Aldeburgh. The life-sized cast iron sculptures, together entitled LAND, will be Antony Gormley's only solo outdoor installation in the UK in 2015 and will be there until May 2016, and not just on the Golden Weekend.


This article was first published in Suffolk Norfolk Life magazine, May 2015