Sleep in the four-bedroom mansion where Kipling wrote ‘The Jungle Book,’ and more.
Rental sharing sites like Airbnb make it easier than ever for travelers to live like locals during their holidays. But adventurers with an interest in history might want to consider looking into The Landmark Trust, a charity that transforms neglected historical buildings into vacation rentals.
The UK-based organization has rescued more than 200 properties scattered throughout Britain, Italy, France and Belgium. The houses range in size, location, price and historical significance: for some of the less conventional offerings, travelers can stay in mills, train stations, water towers, mines and prisons. (Seriously.)
Some of the buildings are pet friendly. If you really want to get off the grid, some have no cell service.
Every year, The Landmark Trust receives over 100 submissions from buildings asking to be restored. So they have to be selective when choosing their projects. To qualify, a building must be historically, culturally or architecturally significant.
The space must also be comfortable enough for visitors to want to stay there, and the Trust needs to believe that the building will be destroyed if the organization doesn’t step in to help. Renovations are handled sensitively, with contractors working to maintain the building’s innate charm while adding modern amenities.
The 500-year-old castle where an alleged traitor lived.
If you’re planning a trip to North Yorkshire, England, the Cawood Castle sleeps four. This 500-year-old building is where Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the Pope’s man in England in the 1500s, was arrested by order of King Henry VIII.
Wolsey, a high-ranking church official and member of King Henry’s cabinet, was arrested because he’d failed to get official permission from the Pope for King Henry’s divorce fast enough. The Crown accused Wolsey of treason and ordered him to London. Poor Wolsey died during the journey south.
But hey, the space is pet-friendly. So feel free to bring your non-treasonous dog!
The mission of The Landmark Trust, which was founded in 1965 by a husband and wife team, is to preserve historic buildings that are too small to qualify for government aid. And, of course, to make them accessible to the public.
To subsidize their work, Landmark relies on donations from individuals and businesses, as well as on grants from places like the Heritage Lottery Fund, a trust that gets money from the UK’s national lottery.
Stay in a house designed to look like a tropical fruit.
Located in central Scotland, this 18th-century summer house sleeps four people. But its history is way more interesting than the real estate.
Here’s the story: John Murray was an Earl of Scotland who sailed to the British Colonies to govern Virginia on behalf of the Crown. Murray, aka Lord Dunmore, was in the American colonies as tensions rose and eventually broke out in war between rebels and English forces.
Murray was a Loyalist through and through. He fought Indians and revolutionaries alike, even, at one point, offering freedom to slaves who agreed to fight for the King of England.
Lord Dunmore fled back to England after the British started losing a few too many battles. In those days, people who traveled sometimes put a pineapple or other fruit on top of their door when they returned home. It signified they’d been to “exotic” places.
This slightly phallic pineapple was Lord Dunmore’s version of that.
Relax in a former pig sty.
A local English squire named John Warren Barry, who was from the moors of northeast England, built this after traveling in the Mediterranean in the 1880s. (Hence the Greek motif.)
“The Pigsty” (that’s its official name) has been recently renovated to accommodate travelers:
Stay in a house where a literary icon worked.
The Landmark Trust USA, a separate organization from The Landmark Trust based in the U.S., has restored and renovated five historical properties, all in Vermont. For a little over $50 per person per night, you and seven of your friends can split Naulakha, the home where Rudyard Kipling wrote “The Jungle Book.” If you’re not too busy penning your own classic work, you can enjoy unlimited access to the game room and WiFi.