The Old Hall, Croscombe
The Old Hall was my very first experience of a Landmark Trust building. I stayed there with four friends when I was in my twenties. I have memories of us trying to woo the famous Gurney stove into action, feasting and dancing around the great refectory table, and scrambling up Glastonbury Tor on Sunday morning with a bleary head. Happiness.
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
An English Heritage site, this is a heart stopping medieval castle, both for what it once was and as a glowering ruin. John of Gaunt's regal castle, with a vast hunting park and a great lake or mere, it was deliberately 'slighted' during the civil war. Here Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, received Elizabeth in 1575, the longest and most extraordinary of all her progresses. In 2008 when I was involved in a fascinating project to re-create the privy garden. It is mighty and magnificent and never disappoints.
The Banqueting House, Whitehall
The great audience chamber of Whitehall Palace is all that remains of Whitehall Palace, the vast complex which was the main residence of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Inigo Jones designed it and the ceilings are by Rubens, a massive celebration of the reign of James I. From a first floor window Charles I walked onto the scaffold in January 1649 and was beheaded. It witnessed the extremes of the monarchy in the 17th century. In 1999 I curated my first exhibition, here, on the execution of Charles I, and we brought together a fascinating collection of relics from that event, including the original death warrant, his skull cap and a nail reputedly from his coffin.
This magical and crumbling little building in the Elysian landscape of Cobham Hall is a rare gem. Built in the 1790s for the Countess of Darnley to oversee the making of cream and butter, it was the creation of the brilliant architect James Wyatt. This tiny neo-gothic structure, which was designed to delight, has been derelict for almost 100 years, but thanks to the support of Ecclesiastical, we at the Landmark Trust are hoping to be able to repair and restore it as a charming little holiday house for two.
The magnificent mansion of Auchinleck in the Scottish borders was the family home of James Boswell, pioneering writer and best friend of the lexicographer Samuel Johnson. I love this room because of the thought of these two larger than life figures lolling here with a bottle of claret on their return from their famous tour of the Highlands of Scotland. But also because the house was saved from ruin by Landmark in the 1990s, and is once again a wonderful place to read and talk with friends in front of a roaring fire on a rainy night.