Sunday

Days out in London - A peek into the past with Landmark Trust open day in Spitalfields

The area of Spitalfields, London is full of architectural charm from the past. Hawksmoor's Christ Church sparkles overhead while at street level the buzzing market offers hand-made curiosities while in the surrounding streets early brick terraces from the 1700s still survive.

Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac



This weekend Landmark Trust gave the general public an opportunity to see inside some of their restored properties. As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations they had opened 25 of their 200 buildings right across England, Scotland and Wales. Many had never been opened like this before or are so only rarely. The 25 properties chosen had been carefully picked so that 95% of the British population would be within 50 miles of one of them.

Founded almost 50 years ago by philanthropist John Smith and his wife Christian, the Landmark Trust was set up to try and prevent the loss of smaller historic buildings that the National Trust and the Ministry of Works could not restore.

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac


Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

From the first the Landmark Trust had two goals: saving places and promoting public enjoyment of historic buildings. A descendant of the great 19th-century travel pioneer Thomas Cook, the founder John Smith conceived a simple but original model to enable ordinary people to experience living in extraordinary buildings for short periods of time, the holiday let.

Over time the number of amazing properties they have restored has continued to grow. From a Gothic Temple, a Pineapple Pavilion, a House of Correction and a Pigsty to the 23 buildings on Lundy island, with its fragile eco-system in the Bristol Channel.

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust, Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust Days out Spitalfields, London photo by Modern Bric a Brac

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust


The property that was opened for those within reach of London was in Princelet Street, Spitalfields.

The street had originally been home to the thrifty and hard working Huguenots, a Protestant religious denomination that had suffered persecution in France in the eighteenth century. They brought with them skills in clock and jewellery making, silver smithing and silk weaving.

The weavers used hand-looms to weave raw silk imported from Italy and brought with them a newly invented technique to give thin silk taffeta its glossy lustre. The Huguenot weavers found inspiration for their designs from insects and flowers, and were fond of hanging window boxes outside their houses and training singing birds. 

Princelet Street, Landmark Trust


Princelet Street is available to book as are all of the other restored properties of Landmark Trust.

The Landmark is also still involved in new restoration projects and their latest appeal relates to a rare medieval building in the Brecon Beacons region of South Wales. 

Once part of the Llanthony Priory estate, Llwyn Celyn is thought to have been built in the late 15th century, at a time when Wales was recovering from the devastation left after Owen Glyn Dwr’s unsuccessful revolt against English rule.

Built as a grand 3-bay hall, it retains its late medieval floorplan, with cross passage, service rooms, central hall and solar wing.

Although in the 17th-century, a first floor was inserted into the hall, together with a staircase and chimney flue the status of Llwyn Celyn gradually diminished over the centuries, with further modernisation grinding to a halt.

As a charity Landmark Trust requires donations to raise the funds required to restore properties like this. When successful they become amazing places to stay in or even visit for the day as was the case, this weekend. 

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