An Athenæum of Philadelphia Symposium
December 4 - 5, 1998

Preservation for Pleasure: A New Life for Old Buildings through the work of the Landmark Trust

Peter H. Pearce 
Director, The Landmark Trust, England, UK

View selected slides from this presentation.

My talk is about the work of the LT in the field of historic building preservation, which may not be widely known about here but I hope there will be resonances  for anyone faced with the practical issues involved in the care of historic buildings, particularly the small ones which are not economically viable.  In the context of this Symposium, I believe that our approach offers an alternative to the House Museum, while both preserving public benefit and access objectives and - importantly - achieving longterm financial viability without the need for endowment.

I am going to address four main subjects -

The background of Landmark and its philosophy and aims

Founded 1965 by Sir John and Lady Smith.  Sir John retired 1991; Lady Smith still Trustee, and does decorations.
Charitable organisation with twin purposes:  to rescue small historic buildings from neglect, misuse or decay;  secondly for their enjoyment and appreciation as a source of education for visitors, mainly by letting them for holidays.
This gives them a new life, which is the key to preservation, and provides an income for their maintenance.
Now 167 Landmarks mostly in the British Isles but four also in Italy and one in Vermont, USA.

Landmark’s origins are in a very different age.  In Britain in the 1960s, the country was at last emerging from the hardship and shortages of the post-war years.  Quite rightly the main effort of those who cared about architecture was focused on our greatest treasures, cathedrals and country houses, which had suffered from actual damage in wartime, or simply from inevitable neglect and lack of maintenance.

But Sir John Smith, who has a particular gift for seeing what others have overlooked, noticed that countless smaller historic buildings were, as he put it, “falling through the holes in the preservation net”.  The National Trust had its hands full and no money to endow these small, economically unsustainable buildings.  Private owners lacked the resources and sometimes the will to look after them.  Sir John had the idea that by taking these buildings on and converting them to self-catering holiday accommodation, the problem of endowment could be avoided as the income thus received would pay for their maintenance.  Thus the Landmark Trust was born. In the 1960s, the idea of preserving historic buildings by converting them to a new use was quite a new one, and holiday use almost unheard of - the typical holiday cottage was not a distinguished building.  Here as in many ways Landmark was to be an innovator, and has now been followed by others.  However there was much more to the idea behind the Landmark Trust than simple preservation.  Sir John saw that in these post-war decades a whole way of life was being lost, and with it the knowledge of it by following generations.  Humble vernacular buildings had lost the agricultural way of life which supported them;  industry had moved on from the industrial revolution which gave so many fine buildings;  many military buildings had been left high and dry by the reduced or changed needs of the armed forces;  the mediaeval half-timbered buildings of Britain were becoming abandoned as too expensive and uncomfortable to live in;  banqueting houses, follies and other relics of an aristocratic estate life now vanished were in decay.  Sir John saw the opportunity not only to preserve these buildings but to provide a window to the modern generation of adults and children on the way of life which had created them.  While people stayed in them, they also provided an income for their upkeep.  It is one of the great strengths of the Landmark Trust that now, with 167 buildings, we can say with reasonable safety that expensive though it is to maintain these buildings, this cost is met from holiday lettings and that once restored their future is secure without a supporting endowment.

As always, the key which unlocked the door was money, specifically capital to acquire the buildings and undertake the repairs.  Once they had been put on their feet in this way and made ready for people to stay in them, they ought to be secure.  For the Landmark Trust, the key to this particular door was the Manifold Trust, which Sir John created as a solely grant-giving Trust which provided the resources to put this novel idea into practice.  In it he combined the shrewdness of commercial investment from his background in banking with his eye for buildings in the Landmark Trust. It is because of this history that the Landmark Trust is what it now is, although due to the scale of future work we would like to be able to tackle we are now engaged in more general fundraising for our projects.

What is the Landmark Trust, and what is it not?  It may seem a little perverse to describe an organisation by what it is not, but in what is now a crowded field of activity thronged with preservation trusts, pressure groups, grant givers, single interest specialists and the like, perhaps it is helpful to start from this.  The Landmark Trust is not part of any government;  it is an independent charity, although it is entitled to receive the same grants for the preservation of buildings as any other private owner.  It is not part of the English National Trust, a confusion which is occasionally made;  however as would be expected there are many areas of common interest and indeed partnership, in that a number of properties we manage belong to the National Trust but have been restored by us on a long lease.

Unlike the National Trust however, we are not a membership organisation.  Anyone can book a Landmark and we both welcome and succeed in attracting people from all walks of life to stay in our buildings.
We are not a pressure group, but would like to feel that we pursue the cause of conservation through our actions by showing what can be done.  We work for the same end but are pragmatists and not persuaders.

Lastly of the things we are not is a holiday company.  It is only a minor distortion to say that we encourage our visitors to fit our buildings rather than adapting our buildings to fit in with what market researchers might tell us the average holiday-maker would like.  We see ourselves first and foremost as a building preservation charity or not-for-profit and the considerations of preservation come first, and provisions for public access by whatever means are subservient to them.  That said, of course many or even most people’s first contact with us is as a potential customer and inevitably they will see us as operating within a certain sector of the holiday cottage industry.  Our main publication, for which we make a charge refundable against a booking, is the Landmark Handbook, a book designed both as a serious introduction to our buildings and philosophy towards them,  and as a brochure.  We sell over 15,000 of these a year.
The Landmark Trust is overseen by six Trustees, now chaired by Sir John’s son, Barty Smith, all of whom have been associated with the Landmark Trust for many years.  Its main office is in Berkshire in England, in a group of converted vernacular buildings, from which all of its buildings are overseen except for North America, where a separate not-for-profit organisation has been created which operates Naulakha in Vermont and has several other exciting prospects in the pipeline. More of that later.

The first building tackled by the Landmark Trust was a very small and humble one, next to a church in a remote part of Cardiganshire in Wales.  SLIDE Church Cottage however is typical of a strand of Landmark’s buildings which are not grand or ostentatious, but good examples of simple local architecture.  Since then, Landmark has grown steadily at a rate averaging the addition of five new buildings a year, although sometimes a large project has dented this rate a bit and in other years it has been possible to tackle several smaller projects.  At one stage in the eighties, we had twenty projects on site which was stretching to say the least. Often, particularly in the early years of our existence, projects could last for a number of years while craftsmen we trusted worked steadily and patiently on them. This was an expensive way to work, although it produced magnificent quality. Nowadays our project planning has to be tighter partly on grounds of cost, but not so as to sacrifice the quality of the result.

A holiday use has other benefits which may not be immediately obvious.  It requires only the minimum alteration to equip each building for modern life for a short holiday. The trappings of late twentieth century life, which would be out of place in, for example, a parkland setting, can be omitted; conservatories, alarm boxes, external floodlights, sealed doubleglazed porches and extensions, garages and greenhouses, television aerials and satellite dishes and even flower gardens and their fences. As a preservation organisation, Landmark adopts the principle that the buildings should come first;  thus people are fitted around the buildings rather than the reverse, which sometimes leads to some rather surprising results.  If you are only there for a week you don’t need a large convenient kitchen;  and the bathroom can end up in some pretty peculiar places.  At Swarkestone Pavilion SLIDE in Derbyshire, a little building with twin turrets, you have the pleasure of a view of the night sky as you cross the roof under the stars (or sometimes otherwise) to reach the bathroom. There was no other way to accommodate it.  While no-one would tolerate such inconvenience for long were it their home, it is a quirk by which one will remember the place with, it is to be hoped, affection when on holiday.  More important still, the unsympathetic alteration of the building has been avoided.

The promotion of enjoyment and appreciation of such places and their surroundings is a fundamental aim of the Landmark Trust.  For the time that you rent one of our buildings, that building is yours;  there are no roped off areas, you don’t get sent away at 5.30 p.m., you can study it in your own time, helped by the books and information that we provide for you to look at if you want to, but equally that you can ignore, unlike some room guides.  We find that after living like this, even for a short time, in a building that is likely to be very different from the one you live in all the time;  after sleeping in it and cooking in it, lighting an open fire, seeing it in all lights and weathers, coming back to it after a day out, or just being there, enjoying the view from its windows, very few people will fail to find themselves enriched and rewarded by the experience, having learned something new about some aspect of our past, and perhaps with a new resolve about our present and future.  This is as true as we approach the new Millennium as it was three and a half decades ago.

We have always regarded the setting of buildings as of paramount importance.  Indeed we have spent quite a lot of money acquiring buildings to demolish them and restore their sites to grass so as to free a good building from later additions or obstructions which obscured its qualities. Most of our gardens are of grass without elaborate flower beds except where that is part of their character and worth. We do our best to remove, or do without, the clutter of modern life;  we dislike wirescapes and remove them wherever possible although sometimes we cannot go as far as we would like;  the detailing of services is addressed with particular care to hide vents, flues, and pipes.  Many buildings do not even have an outside light unless their architecture and character mean that this is in keeping, or part of the historic building which we found.  To some this may feel somewhat extreme but we would prefer to ask everybody to bring a torch and enter into the spirit of the thing rather than add an ugly or unnecessary fitting where it was not there before.

What do we provide at our buildings?  We provide for comfort, but not for luxury.  It is important for us to get this across; sometimes those of our American visitors who are used to high standard hotels can find this unexpected, particularly as the variety of character and type in the buildings is often reflected in the way the facilities of modern life are provided. However all our buildings have modern kitchens and bathrooms, in styles to suit each one,  and all are heated, often augmented by open fires or stoves.  The larger ones have dishwashers and washing machines too. We do not provide, as a matter of deliberate choice, things like televisions, microwaves, and telephones.  We find that the great majority of our visitors appreciate this, and even seek it out.  Often the result is that they relearn the art of conversation with their children - or perhaps more accurately, their children relearn the art of conversation with them.

Paint schemes are modest and simple unless the building calls for opulence.  They are furnished according to the style and history of each building, with carefully chosen antique furniture which is old, strong and good of its kind, often with rather quirky touches.  Carpets and rugs are bought second-hand and “run-in” and many of the curtains are hand-printed by Lady Smith, picking up a theme in the house - perhaps from a carving in the building, or the unusual shape of a wrought iron hinge.  All furnishings are designed to be comfortable but not to distract the attention, and to allow visitors to relax and appreciate the building around them.  Indeed “run-in” is perhaps a good description of our whole approach to presenting our buildings; they should feel comfortable but not new, and not - in Sir John’s words - “like a small boy scrubbed by an overtough mother”.  We do not present  buildings in what Queen Victoria used to call “a very high state of preservation”, which is perhaps an interesting concept to get across in America  where restoration can mean making new rather than conservative preservation.  Perhaps also novel is that people are allowed, and indeed encouraged, to actually use precious historic buildings rather than look at them; to step over the rope, as it were.  This is perhaps not an easy line of thought for anyone operating in the museum sector and many people ask if we worry about allowing it; but this is the whole point, and the vast majority respect the buildings and the trust placed in them, and so we do not worry.  It is very rarely that we have a serious problem although, the world being what it is, occasionally problems can arise.

What kind of buildings do we take on?  The answer is almost anything which is good of its kind and at risk or in need of a new use.  Our portfolio of buildings is eclectic and this arises largely from the nature of the threat which presented us with the opportunity to save them in the first place, combined with Sir John’s particular areas of interest.  The most common situation is that a building has simply moved beyond the point where the cost of its repair is justified by the income that it might make, or it is beyond the reach of the resources available to support it, for example from a private owner.  Many of our buildings were reduced to shells when we acquired them.  The Banqueting House at Gibside TWO SLIDES is one of many such examples.

We are always on the lookout for new buildings and types of building.  This is not to say we are short of projects and indeed we have a full programme, which I will come to later.  We often work in partnership with other organisations which may have responsibility for the care of a building which they either cannot sustain financially, or where their desired use is not resulting in the quality or quantity of public appreciation that they would wish for.  A prominent example is buildings housing a small museum or collection and recently we have taken leases of several good buildings which were beginning to cost more than the meagre resources of the local organisation concerned could afford, where the creation of a Landmark proved to be an ideal solution for all.  Thus the building was preserved, the owning organisation was spared the cost and responsibility of maintenance, there was an income for its maintenance, and public access objectives were achieved to the benefit of both organisations. In the USA, with its greater tradition of small House museums, perhaps Landmark’s approach might similarly offer a solution for a small house museum which is struggling, or is perhaps not the ideal solution for that particular building but where previously no alternative existed.  The beauty of Landmark’s approach is that once a restoration scheme is funded, because of the annual letting income there should never be a need for fundraising to meet the annual deficit on running costs, and there is no need for an endowment for this either. Once up and running as a Landmark,  each building is self-supporting and this means that a very positive and persuasive case can be made to potential donors to the restoration, who need not be approached again.  I would be happy to talk afterwards to anyone in such a situation who feels we might be able to help.

What philosophy do we apply in restoring our buildings?  The answer is that we have always applied well-established conservation principles to our work.  We use traditional methods and materials wherever this is practicable, which it almost always is. We work closely in Britain with a small group of architects skilled in this type of work and with our style of conservation and regard their work as part of the history of each building.  We take the view that buildings must evolve to continue to be preserved and used and that our work is but a chapter in each building’s history, so we are prepared to make changes of our own  after much careful thought and research.  We also feel that it is often better to have the courage to remove later work, for example where it obscures a much finer original.  This is often not a straightforward decision, and can occasionally lead to prolonged debate with the regulatory authorities.  Usually a solution can be found.

We regard it as important to support the work of craftsmen working in the methods and materials of which our buildings are made, so that the skills can be passed on to the next generation. So that we can contribute in our small way, we operate a small direct labour team well versed in these skills, operating in the West Country, which has recently completed the repair of one of our most recent Landmarks, 28 South Street, Torrington (SLIDE) to the highest standards.  We intend to sustain this team, and would like to develop the principle in other parts of Britain to contribute in a small way to the retention and nurturing of these skills.  Otherwise, we employ contracting firms with a track record in conservation work on competitive tender.

How do we go about the process of acquiring buildings?  Buildings come to our notice in all sorts of ways and the paths of the negotiations to acquire them are similarly varied.  So is the length of time that this process takes. We have been trying for the past 17 years to secure the future of one building in Yorkshire.  Sometimes persistence pays and sometimes it does not but we tend to try hard not to give up because we know that with buildings like this they are on the cusp of final decline, and if we do not manage to save them then they will be lost forever.  Other negotiations of course go much more easily or at least quickly but always there are many issues to be thought through;  access both for visitors and contractors and later service vehicles such as trash lorries and laundry vans when the building is running as a Landmark;  the extent of ownership and boundaries;  possible threats across the boundary from adjoining owners, such as the risk of new and inelegant buildings which would spoil the view or the history of the surroundings;  rights of other people over the land we want to acquire;  and so on.

Our strong preference is to own each building as we are committed to preservation in the long-term and this is obviously the best method to achieve that.  Where that is not possible we have taken long leases of buildings where there is a good reason why the owner cannot part with the building but is prepared to lease it to us.  The terms of course will vary but generally we seek a long lease, often 99 years or even more.

While common practice in Britain, other cultures can find this too long and we are not inflexible if so, but the point of seeking this length of interest goes back to philosophy; we aim to preserve buildings for public use and enjoyment in perpetuity.   We take control of the restoration ourselves and indeed this is usually a relief to landlords as well as reassurance to grant-giving bodies who know that a preservation organisation is in charge of the work.  However before a trowel is lifted on site the necessary research into the building must be done both in documentary archives and where necessary through archaeology on site.  This essential precursor to the preparation of a scheme guides our hand in deciding how to treat each building. The research, and the scheme which flows from it, are documented in a History Album which we leave in each building for the enjoyment and education of our visitors.

The early years of letting a building can vary quite widely.  A famous building for which there has been much publicity will often be very popular from the start.  Goddards in Surrey by Edwin Lutyens was instantly popular. THREE SLIDES Partly it was popular because of the present enthusiasm for the period but also because of its proximity to London and the towns of the South-East, from where many of our visitors come, and from the beauty of the house itself and its setting.  Some other buildings can take a while to build up bookings but often when they do develop a steady support of people who stay there regularly.

Landmarks appeal to people from all backgrounds and incomes and this is something which we are keen to maintain.  It is still possible to stay in a number of our buildings for as little as 15 dollars per person per night, particularly in our larger buildings.  This must be encouragement to anyone who is interested in historic buildings but feels that he or she cannot afford it.  Of course as in any such business, at peak times peak rates apply.  Conservation costs a lot of money and this is our primary source of income for that purpose so we obtain as much of it as we can;  this is also what as a charity we are obliged to do.  However where else could one have the unique experience of staying in a perfectly restored villa by Palladio as at the Villa Saraceno in northern Italy, one of only sixteen of Palladio’s buildings surviving intact and the only one available for people to stay in in this way? THREE SLIDES Moreover, one can do so for as little as 26 dollars per person per night.  While this is not a sales pitch, or at least it is not meant to be, this does demonstrate that these buildings are within the reach of everyone, and that is how we would like it to be.  As well as those who stay in them, many thousands more each year come to our buildings on Open Days, of which we have an annual programme to offer a glimpse of buildings not otherwise open as an introduction to our work.

A tour of Landmarks

Some of the slides from this presentation are available on the web.  Click here to view the images.

The Pineapple - 2 slides
Example of a long lease, from NTS
Took on in 1973

Built 1777 when Lord Dunmore returned from serving as Governor of Virginia - a joke, as sailors would put a pineapple on the gatepost to announce their return home - he built one instead
Purton Green - 2 slides
Example of collapsing half - timbered mediaeval building, bought 1969
Lost Suffolk village
Rare mediaeval hall of 1250
Derelict inserted floor removed to reinstate hall
Reached by 400 yards by wheelbarrow
You live in high end of 1600 - rest repaired and left
Langley Gatehouse 2 slides

Jacobean, hall demolished 1880’s, gatehouse part of farmstead and falling down - one corner post held up by no more than a wine bottle
Probably the estate steward’s house
“Patching a cobweb”

The Chateau 2 slides
On the edge of Gate Burton Park, Lincolnshire
Built 1747 by John Platt of Rotherham
After use as weekend retreat and picnic house, altered then neglected
Pigsty 3 slides

Inspired by buildings seen by Squire Barry of Fyling Hall in the Med in 1880’s
Built for a pair of pigs
Owner no longer farmed like this ! so gave us a long lease
St. Winifred’s Well 2 slides
Tiny mediaeval well chapel above holy well
St W. brought back to life after being decapitated by an angry suitor in 7th century - body taken to Shrewsbury Abbey, miraculous healing powers
Then Court House since Reformation
Well was enlarged to make cold bath
Declining as cottage so we bought and restored - tiny, bath in separate building
Wortham Manor 2 slides

V fine mediaeval and Tudor hall
Moulded oak beams from 1500 in hall ceiling
Original plan restored, farm buildings cleared away
Crownhill Fort 5 slides

One of Palmerston’s ring of forts to protect Plymouth - 1880’s
One of two largest surviving in good order
Acquired 1987, steadily restored
Volunteer soldiers
Educational and day visit value
Saddell Castle 3 slides
Castle and several cottages - matchless setting
Built 1508 for Bishop of Argyll - important Abbey ruins nearby
Fine and complete towerhouse, including bits of Abbey stone
When we acquired, trees growing from parapet and windows gone
Very popular
Egyptian House 1 slide
Rare survival of style popular after Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign of 1798
Dates from 1835: similar to the former Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly by P. F. Robinson, who probably designed this too
Built as geological museum and repository for John Lavin
Coade stone enrichments
Alton Station 1 slide
Only  Italianate station in Staffs, notable example of vanishing class of building
In heyday, took 12 coach trains from the Potteries
Near to Alton Towers
Flue found blocked with porters old waistcoats
Fort Clonque 1 slide
Built 1840’s to defend Alderney against French
Reached by tidal causeway; original complement 10 64-pounder guns
Occupied and rearmed by Germans in 1940 - one huge casemate now a bedroom
Fabulous setting
When we tackled it in 1966, such buildings disregarded
Mackintosh building 1 slide

Comrie north of Stirling
Built by Charles Rennie M in 1903-4 for local ironmonger and draper
Shop with flat above - we bought separately
Faint Scottish baronial influence
Tixall Gatehouse 2 slides

Built by Sir Walter Aston in 1580 to stand in front of an older house now gone - remnant
we bought for £300 in 1968
“an Elizabethan ruin, without roof floors or windows, used as a shelter for cattle”
Fine landscape
Mary Queen of Scots imprisoned  here 1586
Lundy 5 slides

Next, our most recently completed schemes:
28 South Street Torrington

Built 1701 for town merchant
Fine stucco ceiling in dining room
Once Masonic meeting hall
Done by our team, Sir John in charge
Sackville House 2 slides

Rescued from decay in 1919 by Geoffrey Webb, whose daughter left it to us - one of many examples of gifts to us
Fine hall with chambers, remodelled
Huge plot called a portland, not built on

Kiplings home 1893-6
His own design, although drawn by H. R. Marshall
Called it a ship; his study at the bow.
Wonderful views
Many rooms exactly as Kipling knew them, including the study where he wrote the Jungle Books.

What of the future?  We find there is a continuing succession of important buildings for which Landmark could provide a solution which ensures both preservation and public use and enjoyment.  Currently there are about forty buildings, mostly in Britain, which we have identified as being of potential interest to us. We feel there is great potential in the USA too. Of these a number are either under negotiation for acquisition, or where we are about to start work having acquired them.  I would now like to show you some slides of some of these, starting with the schemes where we have either started work or are about to do so.
Wilmington Priory 4 slides - this is the first of several schemes which we are tackling with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Wilmington Priory is the 14th century remains of a Benedictine Priory ruined at the dissolution of the monasteries, and into which a Georgian farmhouse was later built.  From its setting on the fringe of the village of Wilmington beneath the South Downs one looks out to the chalk figure of the Wilmington Long Man.  We have taken a long lease from the Sussex Archaeological Society which has been operating a small local agricultural museum but increasingly finding that the upkeep of the building and the costs of running the museum were simply not met by the meagre income that this activity provided.  As a result the building had become a source of serious concern in the village and its upkeep was beginning to suffer, and they asked us to take it on.  We will stabilise the ruins and restore the house, reversing some rather poor later work but essentially keeping the present layout intact and expect to start work here in early 1999. There will also be increasd general public access.

Astley Castle 4 slides - Astley Castle is something of a cause celebre.  It stands in the Arbury Estate near Nuneaton in Warwickshire and has stood as a ruin since 1978, when one of those mysterious fires occurred on the last day of a tenancy which was not to be renewed.  The building had been a hotel but it was not restored after the fire and its continuing deterioration as a Grade 1* building was causing increasing concern and criticism.  It is a building which is very far gone and is a project which will cost over £1 million.
The Castle has a long and eventful history:
1266 original fortification
I. 1420 owned by Grey family - one member of which was Lady Jane Grey
Slighted and rebuilt 17th century
Added to and rebuilt in early 19th century
occupied by the army during WWII

Our plan here is to reconstruct part of the Castle, removing a 19th Century addition which obscures a finer front, to create Landmark accommodation.  Much of this in this case will have to be a reconstruction of the historic layout from archaeological evidence.  The rest of the Castle will be stabilised as a ruin, and the scheme will enable a degree of general public access on changeover days to the Castle site which has never been possible before owing to the dangerous state of the building.  Again this is a scheme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, which stepped in with a sizeable grant to revert a scheme for local housing in the village nearby which was to have provided partnership funding to the Lottery grant.  As this was less desirable than necessary if the scheme was to come off, this intervention is very much to be welcomed.  We reckon we have well over a year’s work here, the first phase of which is consolidation of the structure which will commence within the next month.

The Grange, Ramsgate 2 slides - this is one of the most important domestic buildings in Britain.  It is the home of Augustus Welby Pugin, built for himself in 1843 on the cliffs at Ramsgate, and comprising possibly the best preserved example of his domestic buildings.  However perhaps its greatest importance is the influence it has had on the generation of domestic architecture in Britain which it followed, in which it has been of seminal importance.  It was altered quite substantially by Edward and then Cuthbert Pugin, Augustus Pugin’s sons, and we are currently developing a Conservation Plan to establish how best to treat these later additions, in discussion with English Heritage.

We bought the Grange, with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, from a developer who had acquired it at the peak of the housing market with the intention to convert it into flats which was then quite rightly refused.  When we acquired it it was beginning to deteriorate in two ways - firstly, through lack of maintenance, and secondly, from the improvements of a DIY nature done by its owner.  The process of developing the scheme has had to be done with particular care as appropriate for this Grade 1* building, and the task is not made easier by Pugin’s habit of destroying all his working papers on completion of a building.  Our plan here is still being decided but we see Augustus Welby Pugin’s composition as central to the house’s importance and that will guide our philosophy.

Auchinleck 1 slide - Auchinleck in Ayrshire is famous as the family home of James Boswell, and was built by his father, Lord Auchinleck.  It is a fine 18th Century Villa rather than mansion, described rather cuttingly during a visit by the Duchess of Northumberland as a middling sort of house, which to everyone else’s tastes it is not.  The architect is unknown and an interesting conundrum.  It is another house which has been a cause of concern for many years;  after standing empty the lead was robbed by vandals and the resultant water ingress was not checked, leading to the near destruction of the interiors by dry rot.  At this point the building was acquired by the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust which was able to repair the roof and the shell and stop the dry rot, but only by stripping much of the interior, a great deal of which is now in storage.  Various efforts to find a new use for the building which would be appropriate and retain its character came to nought, after which the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust approached us and we have just acquired it from them.  As a result, we are about to embark on one of our largest projects with very substantial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and a splendidly generous American benefactress.  The result will be a Landmark for twelve people probably in two years’ time when they will once again be able to dine under the fine freehand stucco ceiling in the dining room, savour James Boswell’s study where he wrote much of a journey through the Western Isles, and sit in the library where his father once famously came to blows with Dr Johnson.

The Ancient House , Clare 1 slide - this is another example of a partnership with a small museum, this time operated by Clare Parish Council in Suffolk.  The Ancient House is one of the finest examples of high relief pargetting in East Anglia, where this external decorative technique is commonplace.  The 15th century building is small, and once again the small museum was struggling so we have taken a lease of half of the building to create a small Landmark for two people and the remainder will remain a museum after a joint scheme to restore the building.  As the schemes I have mentioned this far are at the larger end of the scale that we tend to tackle it is perhaps worth noting that this is an accident of opportunity rather than deliberate plan - we still intend to tackle smaller buildings as well, and indeed those are often the ones best suited to our approach.  We expect this building to be finished and ready for occupation in late Spring of 1999.

West Banqueting House Chipping Camden 1 slide

One of a pair built in 1613 by Sir Baptist Hicks, prominent mercer and moneylender to the King
We have already restored, in 1980’s, the East Banqueting House as a Landmark
Site of Camden House, ruined by the Royalists in the Civil War
Gift of whole site, including buildings

North American schemes

Canada - the Hurtubise House
Built around 1700, just outside the city wall of Montreal - brave move due to Indian hostility
Long lease from Canadian Heritage of Quebec
Used as a House Museum, but struggling and hard to manage
Remarkably untouched interiors - rare survival

The Bastille, Royalston, Massachusetts
Gift from Fleur Weymouth and Fair Alice McCormick “...the right organisation to give new life to our childhood home”.
Royalston, “the most perfect example of the New England white farm village in existence” - Boston Globe
Built in 1840’s

In addition to new buildings, there are always some substantial projects on our existing properties.  As just one example, we have recently completed a major improvement at Crownhill Fort, the largest of Palmerston’s ring of forts comprising Plymouth, England’s landward defences, to restore the Soldiers’ Quarters providing barrack room displays, a major new education hall in the main magazine, and most intriguingly a recreation of the Moncrieff Disappearing Gun SLIDE, the centrepiece of the Fort’s late 19th Century defences.  This huge gun worked on a spring cantilever principle and was jacked up by the gunners sheltered behind the fire wall to fire over the top of it, whereupon the force of the recoil brought it back down to be reloaded.  This is now fired regularly, causing a certain amount of excitement for the nearby residents of Plymouth although they are becoming used to it.  It is my ambition one day to aim a live charge at the McDonald’s Restaurant right in front of it whose garish yellow sign just beyond our boundary provides an unwelcome reminder that Crownhill Fort has late 20th Century surroundings.

Although you will see from this that we have a full programme, we are always considering more buildings and intend to tackle as many as we can.  I am sure this process will continue and indeed the aims of the Landmark Trust are not just to preserve those buildings which we have already saved but actively to save more.  Last year we considered well over 100 buildings, from which a nucleus is on our wish-list of buildings that we would like to take on.  As is always the case, the question then is to find the resources to tackle them but where there is a will there is a way and there is no doubting our will to do so.

So, to end, I'd like to leave you with three key messages:

The Landmark Trust (USA) Inc.,
707 Kipling Road,
Tel 802-257-7783 (President David Tansey)

The Landmark Trust
Berkshire SL6 3SW
Tel +44 1628 825920 (office) (Director Peter Pearce)
                      825925 (bookings)
                825417 (facsimile)

Website, including Handbook order form -

Selected Slides from this Presentation

Swarkestone Pavilion, Derbyshire
(after restoration)

The Banqueting House, Gibside
(before restoration)

The Banqueting House, Gibside
(after restoration)

Villa Saraceno, Vicenza, Italy
(after restoratio)

Villa Saraceno, Vicenza, Italy
(after restoration) - interior view

Purton Green, Suffolk
(before restoration)

Purton Green, Suffolk
(after restoration)

Langley Gatehouse, Shropshire
(before restoration)

Langley Gatehouse, Shropshire
(after restoration)

Fort Clonque, Alderney,
Channel Islands
(after restoration)

Saddell Castle, Warwickshire
(future project, before restoration)

Wilmington Priory, East Sussex
(future project, before restoration)

Astley Castle, Warwickshire
(future project, before restoration)

Auchinleck, Scotland
(future project, before restoration)

Ancient House, Clare, Suffolk
(future project, before restoration)

West Banqueting House 
and Almonry,
Chipping Campden, Gloustershire
(future project, before restoration)
All images presented here
are copyrighted and
may not be reproduced
without permission.
More information on
image rights may be
obtained from
The Landmark Trust
see address below).


The Landmark Trust (USA) Inc.,
707 Kipling Road,
Tel 802-257-7783 (President David Tansey)

The Landmark Trust
Berkshire SL6 3SW
Tel +44 1628 825920 (office) (Director Peter Pearce)
                      825925 (bookings)
                825417 (facsimile)

Website, including Handbook order form -