Historic House Holiday – English Cottages

I love a charming, magical cottage – as I’ve mentioned before. Not having the means to own a historic house can be disappointing but there are ways to experience the feeling of owning a magic cottage, without the 30 year mortgage. One possibility is to rent a house. Not for long term, mind you, but a short holiday stay. Just to get a taste of the house being yours.

The UK is well known for its holiday cottages. You can spend a week in the Welsh countryside, sleeping soundly in the quiet night, exploring local villages, eating artisanal cheese and heirloom wheat bread, sipping whiskey made by a women-run mill, and just be at home away from home. France and Italy have gites and farmhouses for rent, if you are looking for a slightly different historic flavor.

In her fabulous book England As You Like It, Susan Allen Toth recommends renting historic cottages and flats from preservation organizations such as The National Trust or English Heritage (both UK based). It can be a bit pricey if it’s just two of you staying in an eight bedroom estate house, but there are a few little places you can rent for the same price as an impersonal business hotel.

Here are a few that caught my eye (disclaimer: this is not a review as I haven’t stayed at any of these places… yet!):


Mortuary Cottage in Devon, England
Photo and Description from the National Trust site:
“This cosy 200-year old cottage approached down narrow Devon lanes on the edge of the hamlet of Loxhore, near Arlington Court, on the banks of youthful River Yeo. Unusual name dates back to the Second World War when it was set aside for air-raid victims – fortunately it never needed to be used. There is a secluded garden behind the cottage.”
[200 years old, on the banks of a youthful river, with a secluded garden? Who cares if the name is a bit creepy? Plus this cottage is near the lovely Barnstaple which has good markets and friendly pubs.]


Ivy’s Cottage in Somerset, England
Photo and Description from the National Trust site:
“Ivy’s Cottage is a delightful cosy thatched cottage situated on the picturesque Selworthy Green and offers pretty views of the surrounding countryside. This is a perfect opportunity for a quiet break in the beautiful surroundings of the Holnicote Estate and Exmoor National Park. The Holnicote estate offers miles of footpaths through fields, woods and moorland with an abundance of wildlife and rare species. Ideal location for fishing.”
[You had us at “thatched cottage”.]


Refectory Cottage at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, England
Photo and Description from the English Heritage site:
“Built in the early 20th century for the custodian of the Abbey, but using reclaimed abbey stone, this cottage is a reminder of the original medieval masons who built the Abbey. Their marks can still be seen on many of the blocks used in its construction. Tucked into a corner of the car park, the cottage stands conveniently close to the entrance to the Abbey and a short walk from the River Rye.”
[While the cottage is not quite as old as the others, this is certainly a historic site and in one of the most beautiful parts of England.]

This is just a sampling of the fairytale locales where you can rent a holiday cottage in England. Hopefully it has stirred up some spark of desire for a chance to experience the magic of a historic house, however briefly…

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