** Read our complete list of our favourite holiday homes to rent all over Britain and Ireland

Location: Cambridge Lodge, Audley End, Essex
Accommodation: sleeps 4: 1 double, 1 twin
Contact: 0870 333 1187; www.english-heritage.org.uk/holidaycottages

Originally conceived as the principal gatehouse to the great Jacobean house, Audley End, this elegant Victorian lodge overlooks the extensive grounds of the estate, which were landscaped by Capability Brown and include formal gardens and a walled kitchen garden in which guests are free to wander at their leisure. The charming retreat also has a private garden, allowing you to enjoy al fresco meals in peaceful seclusion.

Location: The Gig House, Columbine Hall, Suffolk
Accommodation: sleeps 6: 3 bedrooms
Contact: 01449 612219; www.columbinehall.co.uk

Set in the lovely grounds of Columbine Hall, the Gig House is a converted timber-framed stable with a log fire, its own garden and access to a walled garden. It has been prettily renovated and furnished with Mouseman furniture, antiques and original prints. There are good restaurants, farm shops and vineyards close by. Columbine’s beautiful gardens are open under the National Gardens Scheme and the house is open on specified days or by appointment for groups. There are plenty of other places to see nearby, including a fine selection of National Trust properties and splendid gardens. Columbine Hall is in the centre of Suffolk and so the Gig House is the perfect base for exploring the county or visiting the coast.

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Location: The Balancing Barn, Thorington, Suffolk
Accommodation: sleeps 8: 4 doubles or 3 doubles and 1 twin
Contact: www.living-architecture.co.uk (online only)

 

This dramatic house is a 30-metre long building, clad in shiny steel tiles, which cantilevers at its midpoint over a descending slope, resulting in half the barn balancing in free space. It was commissioned by Living Architecture and designed by the Dutch firm MVRDV. Built on the edge of a nature reserve, overlooking a small lake and bordered by trees, it has been designed so that visitors can reconnect with the rhythms of nature. The reflective tiles on the outside of the building enable it to mirror the changing seasons. Dutch designer, Jurgen Bey, has designed the interiors, where the walls and floor coverings feature paintings by local artists Constable and Gainsborough that have been sampled and manipulated. The furniture collection includes some exquisite pieces designed by Mr Bey, along with others by leading contemporary Dutch designers. A hidden staircase in the middle of the barn takes you down to the garden beneath. Glass floors and full height windows provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Location: The Dune House, Thorpeness, Suffolk
Accommodation: sleeps 9: 4 doubles (or 2 doubles/2 twins) and 1 single
Contact: www.living-architecture.co.uk (online only)

 

Set amongst the dunes on the very edge of the sea, the Dune House’s idyllic location makes it an ideal spot for a beach holiday. You can step out of the living room straight on to the beach and enjoy splendid views of the sea from the terrace on the upper floor. Designed by Jarmund/Vigsnaes Architects from Norway this is a very unusual looking building with lots of geometric shapes and angular slants in the roof. The exterior walls are mainly made up of dark timber planks and vast areas of glass that allow for uninterrupted 360-degree vistas. Windows are carefully positioned on the upper floor to catch angled views of the landscape.

Location: Blo’ Norton Hall, Blo’ Norton, Norfolk
Accommodation: sleeps 17: 6 doubles, 2 twins, 1 single
Contact: 020-7592 7660; www.blonorton.co.uk


Blo’ Norton Hall near Thetford is a 16th-century half-timbered and old red brick moated manor house on an estate listed in the Domesday Book. Virginia Woolf rented the Hall with her sister, Vanessa Bell, in 1906, and was enchanted by the ‘strange, grey green, dreaming’ landscapes surrounding it. The Indian Prince, Frederick Duleep Singh-son of Queen Victoria’s friend, Maharajah Duleep Singh-made restorations and additions in the 1900s, including installing a carved church beast as a newel post, and redesigning the attic as an Indian chamber. The house is furnished with antiques and historic portraits and looks out over a garden with box hedges and topiary to the moat.

Location: Voewood, Norfolk
Accommodation: sleeps 32 in double, twin and single rooms
Contact: 01263 713029; www.voewood.com

 

‘We cannot open our British homes too generously to the sun’s light and heat’, wrote Arnold Mitchell in 1904. Built between 1903 and 1905, Voewood encapsulates the new century’s craze for sunshine and fresh air, and the daring spirit of the English Arts-and-Crafts movement. Its distinctive butterfly plan, oriented to receive as much sunlight as possible, was the domestic chef-d’oeuvre of the architect Edward Schroeder Prior. The mosaic-like surface of local stones, tiles and flints reflects Prior’s conviction that a house should be expressive of the soil on which it stands. The butterfly theme is reiterated in cabinets of specimens, some from the Natural History Museum, on display throughout the house, and appliquéd butterfly curtains in the dining room. The present owner’s stylish blend of Arts-and-Crafts and Modern furniture and the beautiful gardens are additional attractions, as is the attractive market town of Holt, on the edge of which it stands.

Location: The Long House, Cockthorpe, Norfolk
Accommodation: sleeps 10: 5 bedrooms
Contact: www.living-architecture.co.uk (online only)

 

Designed for Living Architecture by two great Modernists of British architecture, Michael and Patty Hopkins, who were inspired by the flint walled barns and churches of North Norfolk, the Long House incorporates local materials including a vast timber roof that subtly echoes the great roof of Portcullis House in Westminster, also built to Hopkins’s design. There is a great medieval-style hall in the middle and the upper floor commands views of the salt marshes and inlets of the Norfolk coast.