There have always been books in Landmarks. It’s another example of the sureness of touch of John & Christian Smith when they started the Trust way back in 1965. With a vision perhaps of their own perfect holiday, they decided that every Landmark should have a bookcase filled with carefully chosen books for the enjoyment of those staying there.
You know the pleasure of going to stay with an old friend and finding half a dozen books left out on your bedside table, that you can tell have been chosen specially for you? That’s the feeling we aim for with every Landmark bookcase. Whatever your own interests, we want you to feel that every book has been chosen with a reason, for that particular place.
Until 2008 libraries were put together by the late Sonia Rolt (wife of L T C Rolt) and the late Clayre Percy, two well-read women who loved their books in a pre-internet age. Many of the early libraries still bear their stamp. Today, those libraries are annually checked and refreshed with new titles by a team of part-time local ‘Librarians’. The books for our newly restored Landmarks are selected by Landmark’s Historian Caroline Stanford as she researches the building, gathering ideas from others as she goes.
There are always a handful of reliable ‘core’ books: Collins Nature Guides, the relevant Buildings of Britain volume, an OED (to play the Dictionary Game or for crosswords), a book on the constellations, a good cook book. In any Landmark, there may be others that you’ll pick out saying ‘oh, of course’ for its direct association – Wolf Hall at Cawood Castle, The French Lieutenant’s Woman at Belmont, Northern Lights or The Narnia Chronicles at The Old Parsonage in Oxford, The Da Vinci Code at Collegehill House.
But there will be others you pull from shelf thinking ‘I wonder why that’s here?’ And as you leaf through it, we hope you learn something unexpected and new about the place you are staying.
As well as some good fiction and relevant history, you might find also geology, biography, something on today’s pressing topics, poetry. All will be somehow relevant to the building and its setting, with something for every age (it’s likely Horrible Histories will put in an appearance!) All will be there for a reason, to add to your enjoyment and understanding of the building you are staying in.
The library at Llwyn Celyn
Of course, we know that some people do not even look at a book during their Landmark holiday and enjoy it no less for that. But we regularly hear from others for whom the bookcase contents are a highlight to look forward to.
And for everyone, isn’t there something deeply reassuring to see a well-stocked bookcase of well-thumbed books as part of the furnishings of an old building? They give a sense that it has roots deep in time, a promise of quiet immersion away from today’s tyranny of the online world, or of reading aloud by a fireside or from the depths of a comfy sofa.
Most of all, the books in a Landmark add to the sense that this a cherished building and one someone has thought about carefully – just like visiting the special home of an old friend.
Recently, Persephone Books have donated one of their beautifully produced novels for every Landmark – what a joy to browse their catalogue to choose the right ones.
We always welcome suggestions for books to add to our libraries. As most of our bookcases are full, or almost full, we ask that you please don’t leave books in the buildings unannounced but instead to email any suggestions to [email protected]
We welcome donations towards the running costs of Landmark’s libraries and are grateful for the publishers of our core books who support us through generous discounts.
Please don't take an unfinished book away and return it at another Landmark. Each book is specially chosen for its building.