[photos taken at Lengthsman's Cottage]
Oh, the internet is a marvellous thing indeed, and for a while I wasn't sure it was necessary to carry on buying the Landmark Trust Handbook now that so much of the information is on the website. But old habits die hard, good wrting lives on, and the Handbook is undoubtedly still the best way to read about the Landmark Trust and its properties.
[all LT places have the same 'Old Chelsea' china]
We have been taking LT holidays since Phoebe's first summer, and have stayed in follies, priories, forts, palaces, cottages, towers, and a railway station. It all began when we were living in Belgium and wanted to spend our holidays abroad ie the UK so we could also see family. We continued with LT holidays when we moved back because they were/are excellent places for children (no TV, lots of space, brilliant locations, enormous imaginative possibilities, endless games of hide-and-seek, nothing fancy or breakable) and for adults (no TV, well-equipped kitchens, good choice of books, plenty of architectural interest, entertaining and informative log books, the chance to explore little-known, underdiscovered parts of the country, no worries about children wrecking the place).
[They also all have interesting, location-related pictures. This is Grand Junction Canal (1938) by Lynton Lamb from the Contemporary Lithographs series.]
On our recent LT break, I spent time reading the Handbook as I always do in a LT place as it's the perfect time to indulge in imagining future holidays, but this time I also analysed just why it is such a successful piece of writing.
The Handbook has it own individual style and vocabulary. Unlike other holiday brochures, it never goes in for excitement, overtstatement, exclamation marks, and hyperbole. Instead, it builds up the image of a thoroughly sensible, thoughtful, balanced, and civilised business which chooses not to exaggerate, and to treat its readers as intelligent, interested, and literate. I made a list of frequently used adjectives and phrases because I wanted to understand why the Handbook makes me want to book a stay in a LT property for every week of the year, and they include: fine, important, 'old, simple and good', handsome, impressive, magnificent, curious, sober, 'solid and gracious', elegant, noble, remarkable, well-mannered, splendid, 'unusually well built', pleasant, distinguished.
It's all very unshowy, yet completely unstuffy. When you consider the immense architectural and historical value and significance of its property portfolio, the Trust could so easily slip in to BBC Four-style drama and excitement (Lucy Worsley would be in her element dressing up and living in the style of any place she booked). Instead it concentrates on fact (very Pevsner) while at the same time conveying the special character of each location, and suggests that you, the discerning reader, will be capable of enjoying yourself there. It's clever and persuasive, and even though I may never have thought of staying in a water tower/pigsty/ruin/gatehouse, I certainly want to after reading the Handbook.