In little over one month we shall be opening our 201st Landmark, an elegant manor house close to the Dorset coast. Nestled down a leafy lane, Dunshay Manor will be a Landmark sleeping up to nine guests and is set to become a firm favourite. Lucky holidaymakers will be able to enjoy views of Corfe Castle and, when timed right, might hear gentle toots from the nearby Swanage Steam Railway.
Dunshay Manor was bequeathed to us by Mary Spencer Watson, a mid 20th-century sculptor once renowned but now largely forgotten. Mary spent much of her life living and working at Dunshay, taking inspiration from the landscape and the limestone found throughout the stone-quarrying district of the Isle of Purbeck. Mary trained at the Royal Academy and at the Central School under John Skeaping (then still married to Barbara Hepworth), plus spent time studying in Paris. A significant retrospective of her work was held in 2004 across Salisbury Cathedral and Salisbury Museum, and her figurative sculptures can still be spotted in both the Cathedral and the neighbouring Mompesson House.
With Landmarks speckled across a map of Europe, Dunshay is just the latest in a long line of our buildings which have sparked creative inspiration in former owners, visitors and holidaying guests alike. During the decades Mary Spencer Watson was sculpting in Dorset, author John Fowles was living and working at Belmont in Lyme Regis, and renowned artist John Piper painted several Landmarks - including Clytha Castle and Clavell Tower.
Before Mary’s time, to name but two examples, Robert and Elizabeth Browing were composing poetry in Casa Guidi, Florence, and Thomas Hardy was learning masonry at Woodsford Castle before he turned his hand to writing. More recently, artist, illustrator and printmaker Ed Kluz holidayed in many Landmarks and crafted a series of works depicting the buildings, many exhibited in our 2017 exhibition ‘Inspiring Landmarks.’ And to mark our 50th anniversary, Antony Gormley created a multi-site installation of abstract human forms near five Landmarks, and GRIP still gazes out across Saddell Bay.
We know that the legacy of all this creativity is very much still alive. On the bookshelves of every Landmark we have a Log Book, where we encourage guests to leave recommendations for the benefit of those who follow. We are often delighted that many guests leave inspiring words, poems and even drawings in these treasured leather-bound tones, a creative whisper to future generations.
Love your Landmark: what makes our buildings so special