It was the little things that caught our eye, and provided a lovely distraction to the huge challenges of last Christmas. From the gold mosaic floor, to the lovely window latches, the birds and trees on the air vents, the elongated hearts on the fireplaces and the stunningly printed curtains and cushion covers. Robert would have loved this place.

In the late summer I knew that Christmas at home would be too difficult for me, but also knew I wanted to be with my amazing step-daughters. So we decided that somewhere new, and somewhere with plenty of space for everyone to have ‘me time’ as well as family time would be perfect. Booking though that late in the year for a Christmas adventure for six adults, a cute dog and one gorgeous toddler might be a challenge, as well as expensive. But then I remembered The Landmark Trust.

The Landmark Trust was founded in the 1960s when historic listed buildings in the British Isles were being demolished at a rate of 400 a year. The National Trust was unable to respond to the loss of so many smaller and modest buildings, especially those that were needing renovation. But there was an individual, namely Sir John Lindsay Eric Smith, who felt that a smaller and more nimble organisation might be able to both save the buildings and come up with a sustainable plan for their future. And so The Landmark Trust was founded. From the beginning the properties were restored to their original design, including the interiors and were set up to be let out as self catering. Instead of televisions and music systems each property was provided with a collection of books that reflected that particular property, as well as a history album detailing the story of the building. Their buildings vary from castles to gate houses to towers to small cottages to lighthouses to cottage hospitals.

And it was the latter that I found. We stayed at the Grade II* listed Winsford Cottage Hospital in North Devon, with 4 bedrooms, three bathrooms, four living spaces, a kitchen and a wonderful long corridor it was just perfect for us. We could even access the other wing which now houses the community rooms. The layout was not overwhelming in size and all the little touches made it a calm and nurturing setting. Just what we all needed as some days were extraordinary hard, especially for me. I couldn’t open any presents, not even my Christmas stockings on Christmas Day, and often had to escape to my bedroom. But even when my grief was overwhelming I could feel the love and care from the building as much as from my family. I also knew that Robert would have both adored the fact we were all together and also the history and architecture of the place we were staying in.

Winford Cottage Hospital was named after Winsford Tower, a sprawling late Victorian property near by. The property had been built by George and Maria Medley, a wealthy London couple in the 1880s. In 1898 George died and Maria decided to follow in the footsteps of other wealthy Victorian philanthropists and build in her late husband’s memory a cottage hospital in the village. Health care and in fact ordinary homes at this time in rural settings were pretty bleak, with many dying of treatable conditions because their homes were not much more than hovels, hospitals were far away and doctors expensive. Cottage hospitals were transforming lives by offering medical treatment in clean and homely settings close to people’s homes.

Winsford was a bit unusual though as it was designed by the renowned Arts & Crafts architect C F A Voysey. It was the only hospital he designed as usually he worked on private houses for affluent middle classes. He incorporated many of the features he used in houses, but also took on board what a hospital setting needed. It is truly a wonderful building; click here to discover more about its history and its nurturing powers.

“The delightful Cottage Hospital of 1899 at Halwill is CFA Voysey at his most characteristic.”

Pevsner (1991, with Bridget Cherry)

42 thoughts

  1. Great find Becky, though if I slept in one of those beds I’d worry someone might come and take my temperature or worse! I’m glad you had a good Christmas with family.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad you found a nice place to share with your family though I must say those hospital beds don’t look that comfortable. Where’s the duvet to snuggle up in? Did you manage a visit to Rosemoor?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hee hee, I know but they were considered a luxury at the time the hospital opened!

      And yes we did, was a lovely but very wet evening.

      Like

  3. I’ve heard of the Landmark Trust but never stayed in any of their properties. This looks beautiful (I love Arts and Crafts styles) and the perfect place for your getaway Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How is it that after four trips to England, we have never heard of staying on a Landmark Trust?? Thanks for sharing this lovely location. I am glad it enveloped you in its calm and peaceful nature to help you cope with this difficult time. Bernie

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful place with such an interesting heritage. The green tiled fireplaces are just lovely. I love unusual and interesting places to stay, must look at The Landmark Trust.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This looks perfect, and full of interest. But last time we investigated Landmark Trust – a long time ago now – they were super-expensive. Just off to investigate. Interested! So glad it was just what you all needed.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am doing the same. I want to try out some of their places which are for just 1 person but timing and location are going to be key to ensuring it’s affordable. Do keep me posted how you get on, and I will do the same x

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful that you now feel able to write about it Becky. The only Landmark Trust building that I’ve come across was in Richmond, Yorkshire and it was a beautiful folly. I always thought it would be a great place to stay šŸ¤—šŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

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