Heavenly holiday homes in central England

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Location: Warden Abbey, Old Warden, Bedfordshire
Accommodation: sleeps 5: 1 double, 1 triple
Contact: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk

The abbey was Cistercian, founded in 1135, and dissolved in 1537. The Gostwick family built a large house on the site but little remains of either the house or the abbey except for a building that formed part of the house and incorporates some remains of the abbey. It stands on a meadow which undulates with grassed over ruins. During the course of the Landmark Trust’s repairs, one of the finest 14th-century pavements ever discovered was unearthed; it can now be seen in Bedford Museum. Attractive features include a heavily moulded oak ceiling, an oriel window and a Tudor fireplace. And it’s surrounded by some of the finest countryside in Bedfordshire.

Location: Hunting Tower, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Accommodation: sleeps 4: 1 double, 1 twin
Contact: 01246 565379; www.chatsworth.org

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Designed by the famous Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson and completed c.1582 for Bess of Hardwick, forbear of the Dukes of Devonshire, the Hunting Tower may have been a banqueting house or summerhouse. It was also once used by the ladies to watch hounds at work during hunts in the park some 400ft below. Larger parties can also make use of a one-bedroom stone annexe alongside the tower that can sleep an additional two people.

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Location: East Lodge, Hardwick Old Hall, Derbyshire
Accommodation: 4: 1 double, 1 twin
Contact: 0870 333 1187; www.english-heritage.org.uk/holiday cottages

For an immersion into the heart of historic Hardwick, stay in this lodge built into the walls of the Old Hall. It dates from the 16th century and has generous mullioned and transomed windows with leaded lights and a balustraded parapet, giving it a grandeur that belies the cosy interior. The roofless Old Hall was a medieval manor house, home of the family of Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and most remarkable women of Elizabethan England. Beside it stands the New Hall, which she built in the 1590s to the design of Robert Smythson (now a National Trust property). The East Lodge has views of both, and guests have the grounds of the old house to enjoy all to themselves once the gates have shut to the public.

Location: The Château, Gate Burton, Lincolnshire
Accommodation: sleeps 2: 1 double
Contact: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk

Designed in 1747 and thought to be the earliest recorded building of John Platt of Rotherham, the Château, on the edge of Gate Burton Park, was built by a lawyer from Gainsborough as a weekend retreat, and later used for picnics and as a summerhouse. The charming little building has since been restored to its original, elaborate French appearance. There are views across the Park and along a shining reach of the River Trent.

Location: The Flat at Asthall Manor, Burford, Oxfordshire
Accommodation: sleeps 5
Contact: 01993 824319; www.onformsculpture.co.uk


The flat above the ballroom at Asthall Manor, where the older Mitford children (Nancy, Pamela, Diana and Tom) stayed while the family lived in this handsome early 17th-century house from 1919-1926, is now available to rent. With murals by Nancy in the main bedroom, this is a treat for Mitford fans, as well as a lovely place to stay in the Cotswolds, thanks to its sweeping views of the Windrush Valley, with its water meadows and stumpy willows. Here is a picture of Nancy Mitford’s bedroom in the flat above the ballroom, complete with mural painted by her while she was at The Slade.