The Egyptian House
It's over twenty years now since we started having holidays in Landmark Trust properties. It began when we were living in Germany then Belgium and found it difficult to squeeze the five of us into grandparents' houses on visits to England (not mention having to apologise for the disturbances in the night). Instead, we turned the trips into holidays, becoming tourists in our own country. We would book a LT place knowing that it would be suitable for children (no pale fabrics, no knick-knacks, lots of opportunities for hide-and-seek and playing outside) and for us (no TV, but a corkscrew and lots of relevant books in fantastically interesting buildings and locations) and for family to come and visit and/or stay. We liked the concept so much, we carried with LT holidays when we came back and even though it's just us two now, we haven't stopped.
Landmark Trust properties force you to think and be local in a way you might not be in everyday, ultra-connected, global life. We find out about traditional tradespeople and suppliers of odds and sods we thought had disappeared. We read in the log book about the dozens of wild flowers/birds/butterflies that previous visitors have found and we realise just how much we generally fail to notice. We make fires, go for muddy walks, wander round nice towns like Ludlow or Skipton, try local beers, and read local newspapers. For a few days, we happily cut ourselves off from daily life (no WiFi or TV or radio) and immerse ourselves in an alternative micro-universe.
Sancreed stained glass
We have just been to Penzance to stay in the wildly colourful and decorative Egyptian House. We found amazing fishmongers and ate fantastic fish and crab, enjoyed little saffron buns for breakfast and huge pasties for dinner, went to the Newlyn and Penlee art galleries, saw the Patrick Heron exhibition (hmmmmm) at Tate St Ives and revisited the Barbara Hepworth studio (wonderful) twenty years on, found some stained glass featuring Cornish flower pickers, bought Cornish flowers, and were surprised by just how interesting a museum devoted to telegraphy could be. We were blown about by strong winds and lashed by rain, and experienced real end-of-the-land Cornish weather.
And we read. I discovered Helen Dunmore via the highly atmospheric Zennor in Darkness and read about the etymology of Cornish place names. But the greatest joy was reading A Cornish Childhood by the historian AL Rowse which was by turns a fascinating account of Cornwall in the early twentieth century and a hilariously egotistic account of his own brilliance.
It's an essential part of each holiday to spend time going through the LT Handbook, looking back at all the places we have stayed - and planning future breaks. Each Landmark is associated with a personal landmark discovery, event, book, image or memory, and we are always happy to add to the stock.