I don’t remember how we learned about the rental self-catering cottages managed by the National Trust, but in 2000 we stayed in 3 of their cottages: the coast guard cottage on the Isle of Wight, the lighthouse keepers’ cottage at Dover and the Morris Apartment in Standen, an arts and craft house in West Sussex. We loved those accommodations so for this trip we decided to stay in 6 more Trust apartments in places we planned to visit.
Organized in 1895 to preserve “lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and preserve the natural aspect, features and animal and plant life,” it owns 200 historic houses that are open to the public and gardens. It also owns mills, workhouses and the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. It is the largest private landowner in the United Kingdom including 610,000 acres (985 square miles) of land, 300 houses and gardens, 41 castles, 39 pubs, 25 medieval barns and 9 lighthouses.
During the 2 trips to England where we used the National Trust holdings, we have stayed in 1 lighthouse, 1 barn, and 7 houses of varying sizes. Each one is so interesting. The rent we pay for our stays in these holiday cottages is one way the Trust supports it’s programs and maintains the buildings. Not only do we get insight into some British history, at each cottage where we stay, there is a pint of local milk in the fridge and fresh flowers. We have been given crumpets, Welsh cakes, cookies and jam on the welcome tea tray. Often we can also visit a nearby National Trust facility, tour the building we are staying in, or enjoy a free cream tea in the tea room at the property.
We didn’t realize it before, but there is a National Trust in the US which protects and promotes historic places, including 27 sites open to the public. We will have to explore that when we return home.