The Landmark Trust, which will mark its 50th anniversary next year, has announced its plans for nation-wide celebrations and major new projects in 2015.
The charity, which was founded in 1965 by radical politician Sir John Smith (probably the only Conservative politician to have been a member of the union for fairground showmen), preserves historic buildings around the UK and Europe that are classed as "at risk" and partially funds their restoration and upkeep by letting them out as holiday homes to the public.
The eclectic portfolio includes Astley Castle in Warwickshire - one of the Trust's few properties with contemporary interiors - which won the Riba Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2013 (and is consequently fully booked for years in advance); an 18th-century house in Penzance with an elaborate Egyptian façade; "The Pineapple" in Dunmore, Scotland; an apartment in the same building as Keats's house by the Spanish Steps in Rome; and the island of Lundy in the Bristol Channel.
The three new restoration projects are Belmont, a Georgian seaside villa in Lyme Regis; St Edward's Presbytery built by Augustus Pugin (of the Palace of Westminster fame) in Ramsgate; and Llwyn Celyn, a seriously dilapidated 15th-century manor house in the Black Mountains, for which an urgent appeal for funds has just been launched. Belmont and the Presbytery will both open to guests next year.
If it all sounds exclusive, it isn't. The average rental cost of the Trust's 200-strong properties is £45 per person, per night. A last-minute three-night break at the Egyptian House costs £209 for three guests, or £23 per person, per night and many of the houses are family- and dog-friendly. And as part of the 2015 celebrations, the Landmark Trust is offering 50 free stays for charities in a handful of its houses next March, including Lutyens' Arts and Crafts masterpiece, Goddards in Surrey. Applications must be made by 4 January.
More accessible will be Land, Antony Gormley's only solo exhibition next year, which will be held exclusively at Landmark Trust properties. Five life-size human sculptures will be on display at sites personally chosen by the artist in Suffolk, Dorset, the Mull of Kintyre, Warwickshire and Lundy. The sculptures will be unveiled as part of a special Golden Weekend of celebrations on 16-17 May, when 25 Landmarks will also be open to the public.
For more information, see landmarktrust.org.uk