The very first holiday D and I took together as a couple, was to Shelwick Court. The Landmark Trust property sits in the Herefordshire countryside, near the market town of Hereford. From the outside, it looks like a regular, sturdy farmhouse. The front of the house dates back to 1700, so it’s clearly a building with a lot of history. But inside, there’s a surprise.
A walk up a creaky wooden staircase, to the first floor, unearths the property’s hidden treasure: a medieval great chamber. The 6-bay timber roof was built in around 1400, and was moved to Shelwick Court from somewhere else. The place is a puzzle, as nobody knows who lived there, or why they took the chamber ceiling to Shelwick. But it’s now a good place to have a relaxed holiday, with a historical edge.
The house slept eight, with beat-up sofas furnishing the chamber where grand dinners must have taken place, hundreds of years ago. Board games sat on the chamber’s wooden shelves, and we found antique cutlery in drawers under the chamber’s 12-seater wooden table. The kitchen was small but functional.
Shelwick Court’s small grounds backed onto a field with a friendly horse, and offered pretty views out over the countryside.
Our stay at Shelwick was my first encounter with the Landmark Trust. The charity rescues historic houses that would otherwise be lost, restores them, and markets them as self-catering holiday properties, to keep the heritage alive. Their website describes their 200 properties, across the UK and in Italy, France and Belgium, as
“picturesque pavilions and medieval long-houses, artillery forts and Gothick follies, clan chiefs’ castles and cotton weavers’ cottages, the homes of great writers and the creations of great architects, from Browning to Boswell, from Pugin to Palladio.”
Shelwick Court was on the brink of destruction when the Landmark Trust took it on. Before he died, its elderly owner lived beside it, in a caravan, as the house was unfit to live in. Instead of being bulldozed to the ground, the Landmark Trust turned Shelwick into a place that families and groups can use as a base for country walks, cider-tasting excursions or trips to see castles.
To find out more about Shelwick Court, the Landmark Trust and their other properties, visit their website.
Visit Herefordshire has information on what to do in the area.
Shelwick Court’s nearest railway station is Hereford, one and a half miles away.
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