A Landmark celebration
PUBLISHED: 10:30 23 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:30 23 June 2015
Catherine Larner meets a team at the forefront of preserving the nation's forgotten historic buildings, including a few in Suffolk
The usefulness of a tower on a hill overlooking the river, a battle defence on the coast, or even a medieval great hall, might have long since disappeared, but these buildings remain familiar and distinctive focal points in the Suffolk landscape.
Freston Tower at Ipswich, Aldeburgh’s Martello Tower and the New Inn at Peasenhall are all buildings that have been saved from ruin by the work of The Landmark Trust, a charity celebrating its 50th year.
“Suffolk is a perfect Landmark county,” says director Anna Keay. “It had a great affluent past in the Middle Ages with the wool trade, which created a lot of buildings, and it is somewhere people love to go and stay because it is so beautiful and full of interest.”
You can’t pay for a ticket to tour one of these properties, however. Landmark Trust buildings are self-catering holiday lets where you can stay for three nights or more, immersing yourself in these unusual historical locations.
“Our buildings are accessible through people booking them, and staying in them,” says Anna. “The income we generate in this way pays for their maintenance.”
There are 200 properties in the Landmark collection, all over Britain as well as a few in France and Italy, and one in Belgium. Each location has comfortable furniture, a well equipped kitchen, modern bathrooms and usually an open fire or stove, but you won’t find a television, radio, telephone or wi-fi.
“They appeal to people with a sense of adventure, a sense of romance, someone who is going to find the thought of staying in a tower on a clifftop with a log fire burning rather wonderful, not rather inconvenient,” says Anna.
The trust was formed in 1965 by conservationist John Smith, who realised that historic buildings that were not of interest to the National Trust or the government were in danger of being lost forever.
Using charitable donations, buildings are rescued if they fulfil three criteria – they are important architecturally or historically, are genuinely at risk, and people will like to stay in them.
In this the 50th anniversary year, many more people are likely to hear of the organisation and its proposition.
“Lots of people in the locality of a Landmark building may never have been inside, so this year, to mark the anniversary, we are running a number of open days giving people access,” says Anna.
As part of the celebration Suffolk will enjoy a year-long installation by the highly acclaimed sculptor Antony Gormley.
“We are hugely excited to be working with Antony,” says Anna. “He had the idea some years ago to join the British Isles together in one installation, and we are thrilled that Landmark can make this idea a reality through our amazing site.”