Historic holiday homes: look inside these 5 weird and wonderful buildings

Unusual historic buildings including a former Victorian railway station are proving a hit with holidaymakers


The Landmark Trust, a charity that preserves small historic properties all over Britain by transforming them into unique holiday homes, has seen business increase by 15 per cent in the past 12 months, the Telegraph reports.


Some of its 194 buildings, which also extend into France, Italy and the USA, are now fully booked until 2016.

The range of quirky properties includes a Georgian folly, a former Victorian pigsty, and a Victorian railway station building.

Here, we give you a glimpse of some of the unusual historic holiday homes:

Warden Abbey

Old Warden, Bedfordshire

This quirky building is all that remains of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1135. Little is known about the abbey, but the Landmark Trust says it was “highly respected for its spiritual life and religious discipline”.

The abbey was dissolved in 1537, and a large house was built on the site by the Gostwick family. The main part of the Tudor house was pulled down in about 1790, leaving only a short wing that ran back from its north-west corner. This wing is the building known today as Warden Abbey.

The entire first floor of the building – which stands alone in a meadow – is taken up by a bedroom with a Tudor fireplace and oak ceiling. Groups of up to five people can stay at the abbey.

To find out more, click here.

Appleton Water Tower

Sandringham, Norfolk

This Victorian water tower was established in the 1870s to provide a clean water supply to the Sandringham Estate. The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) – who in 1871 fell ill with typhoid (a disease transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person) while at Sandringham – asked engineer Robert Rawlinson to report on the drainage of the castle.

When tests revealed that the castle was underlain by numerous cesspools, the estate had to be provided with a sanitary water supply as a matter of urgency.

Today, accommodation – a twin and a double room – is stacked on the lower floors of the tower. A separate steep cast iron spiral staircase leads to an open viewing terrace atop the water tank.

To find out more, click here.

Astley Castle

Nuneaton, Warwickshire

This 12th-century fortified manor owned by Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV, is proving to be the most popular of the Landmark Trust’s holiday homes.

The site has been in continuous occupation since the Saxon period. By 1420 it had passed, through marriage, to the Grey family, and became entangled with the succession to the throne of England. In doing so it earned its association with three queens. The first Yorkist queen, Elizabeth Woodville, probably lived at Astley in the mid-15th century.

The moated site, which had fallen into disrepair, was restored in 2007. Today up to eight people can sleep in the manor house, which is set across two floors, with two double bedrooms and two twin rooms. Large glass walls frame views of medieval stonework and the adjacent church and surrounding countryside.

The building also boasts underfloor heating and an open fire in the courtyard, as well as a woodburning stove. The castle won the 2013 Riba Stirling Prize, a prestigious UK architecture award.

To find out more, click here.

Clavell Tower

Kimmeridge, Wareham, Dorset

This four-storey, circular tower stands on the Smedmore Estate above Kimmeridge Bay. Built by the Reverend John Richards Clavell in 1830 as an observatory and folly, the tower later became a destination for picnics, family expeditions and courting couples.

From the 1880s until 1914 the tower served as lookout post for coastguards, but was then left empty while cliff erosion took its toll, says the Landmark Trust. By the late 1980s the tower was in real danger of falling off the edge, leading to it later being dismantled and re-erected further back from the cliff.

Today each room in the tower is on a different floor. The bedroom – on the first floor – has a door onto a balcony that encircles the entire building.

To find out more, click here.

Alton Station

Alton, Staffordshire

Alton Station was built in 1849 as part of the Churnet Valley branch line for the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR). It is the only Italianate (a distinct 19th-century style of architecture) railway station in Staffordshire.

After nationalisation in 1948 the line began to decline, and in 1960 services were slashed. Over the coming years the waiting room suffered from neglect and vandalism, and Staffordshire County Council bought sections of the line with the station buildings in 1969.

The ticket office has been turned into a double bedroom, and six other guests can sleep in the stationmaster’s house. Cooking takes place in the small private waiting room, and the main waiting room boasts an open fire and a long table for dining.


To find out more, click here.