Curious Landmarks - not your usual holiday getaway!

From grand gatehouses to surprisingly splendid stables - The Landmark Trust collection is definitely not the standard offer of holiday home options! They restore historic sites to create fabulous self-catering stays and regularly open for Heritage Open Days to delight and intrigue visitors. As applications open for one of their charitable offers we thought it was about time we we learnt a little more, so here's Fiona Keyte, to tempt us with some of her favourites!

Palace? Museum? Guess again... this stunning building at Silverton Park was originally designed to stable horses! © Artography - Andrew Tucker

Fiona Keyte - Engagement Coordinator at The Landmark Trust

When I applied for a job in the Landmark Trust Bookings team almost 11 years ago now, I’d never heard of them or the important work they do in preserving our history. I began researching them ahead of my interview and bought a copy of their Handbook - poring over its contents feeling like a child let loose in a sweet shop, excitedly slapping a ‘wish-list’ post-it note on almost every building I wanted to visit from tiny curious follies to sublime country estates.

Myself and my two young children have stayed in around 50 Landmarks now and that sense of intrigue and exploration when you open the often centuries old, creaky doors, never seems to dissipate; you truly feel as though you’ve been transported back into simpler times. Here are some of my highlights..

Shute Gatehouse has quite the ceiling to inspire you as you lie by the log fire and dream! / © Artography - Andrew Tucker

My 1st Landmark

Shute Gatehouse, Axminster, Devon

An imposing Elizabethan gatehouse complete with its own turrets and crenelated battlements, Shute Gatehouse was the first Landmark property I ever had the joy to visit and will forever be engrained in my memory. The feel of the enormous, weighty key in my palm, waving at passers-by from the battlements as if we were royalty, laying down on the floor next to the log-burner staring up at the Jacobean plasterwork that adorns the sitting room ceiling and watching for deer in the park opposite as I did the washing up are memories etched in my mind for eternity.

Never intended as a means of protection, the gatehouse acted as a status symbol for the owners of Shute Barton house and boy does it impress – turrets, battlements and unusual stone gargoyles all add to its intrigue. Landmark first saw the building in 1978 in a sorry state of decay and dire disrepair; without their intervention the gatehouse may have been lost forever, instead it remains standing, a proud sentinel over sleepy Devon hills.

Behind a humble exterior The Music Room is designed to inspire. / © Jill Tate

A festival Landmark

The Music Room, Lancaster

As Engagement Coordinator it’s my responsibility to decide which Landmarks to share with the public as part of the Heritage Open Days festival (HODs); we opened The Music Room for 2019, and impressive visitor numbers coupled with my own musical background urged me to volunteer to staff the open days this year. Despite the five-and-a-half-hour drive to reach it and the fact that I’d forgotten to pack my flute, the building did not disappoint!

A delightful Georgian building in the very centre of Lancaster, originally a garden pavilion for viewing bowls games in the garden, the exterior gives little clue to the grandeur that awaits you inside; I had no trouble in enthusing to our guests the amazing restoration of this building - the repairs to the plasterwork alone took 6,000 man hours to complete! Visitors voiced their disbelief that you could holiday in this amazing space, and as I readied myself for bed that night marvelling at the ceiling festooned with mythical creatures, various muses and Greek gods, I quietly thanked the Trust for saving this spectacular room so it could be shared with generations to come. The Music Room will be opening again in 2022 if you’d like to share in that same ‘take-your-breath-away’ experience as you enter.

Step into some spectacular stables at Silverton Park / © John Miller

An unexpected Landmark!

Silverton Park Stables, Devon

When you think of stables, do you think holiday accommodation? No? Me neither, that is until I saw Silverton Park Stables. Landmark is well versed in transforming buildings intended for one use into another – as well as a stable we’ve also got a pigsty built in the Classical style! However bizarre it sounds, the concept works and on a sunny day in that large open courtyard at the centre of Silverton, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in an Italian Piazza – something many of us are probably missing since the dawn of Covid.

The stables are all that is left of a large 19th century mansion built for aristocrat George Francis Wyndham, the 4th Earl of Egremont (1785-1845), although neither the mansion nor stable block were ever completed. The Earl passed in 1845, heavily in debt and the unfinished buildings were sold off when his widow died; Sir John refused to see the stable block turned into flats, as was planned, and decided it would be much better suited as a holiday let for all to enjoy and soak up its rich atmosphere – it’s top of my wish list for a getaway with friends next year!

Find out more

Piqued your curiosity? Head to our website and lose yourself in the treasure trove of buildings that Landmark has to offer as I did many moons ago, and still do to this day. Will your imagination be sparked by our prickly pineapple, will you find surprisingly quiet salvation amidst London’s hustle and bustle at Princelet Street, or perhaps the sleepy hamlet at Coombe will tickle those proverbial tastebuds.