When I first came across the non-profit organization Landmark Trust, I couldn’t quite believe it. Here’s the premise: they restore beautiful buildings all over Europe that have been neglected by the local authorities, which is amazing, but what’s even more fantastic is that these amazing properties are for rent, meaning you can literally have a vacation in a castle. How cool is that?
But beyond my obsession with living out a childhood dream of being in an actual castle, the charity organization also does really amazing work. Established in 1965 by building and restoration enthusiast John Smith with his wife Christian, the foundation got to work on their first restored building, which was called Church Cottage. From there, they went on expanding their work to other amazing old sites that were not getting the love and attention they really needed. Now, decades later, the organization continues “saving places and promoting the public enjoyment of buildings.”
The roster of properties has now grown to an impressive list of old country estates, villas, watch towers, and of course, castles. Restoration is taken very seriously, never imposing a new modern style, but restoring the style and the feel of the building to modern living standards. This results in beautiful classic interiors, all fit almost exactly to the era of the original building, some of which are as old as the 14th century! But don’t worry, they’ve been updated with all the modern conveniences. In this way, they are also working to keep traditional craftspeople thriving, contracting artisans utilizing age-old techniques to do justice to these master pieces. They also accept volunteers to help on restoration projects as well. Any volunteers out there?
I just love they have made all of these amazing properties available, and that each one is a little slice of European history preserved. Staying in these houses is like going back in time – some centuries back, which is just breathtaking!
At another point in time, I will tell you in more detail the time my husband and I stayed with friends at a historic house on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace that was totally haunted. Not by scary ghosts per se, but totally haunted. So yeah, there is that part of old houses that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is exciting. It’s not often that we can stand on a castle wall that was built hundreds of years ago, and then cozy up by the fire, have a lovely meal, or skip down to the beach after. It’s got all of the ingredients for a perfect vacation, sight-seeing, comfort, beauty, and yes even some ghost stores, all under one roof.