Six Landmarks under two hours from London

With 198 special Landmarks spread across the UK and Europe, and each one entirely unique, it is not always easy to decide where to venture first. Here we handpick a selection of Landmarks within easy reach of central London, each perfect for a weekend getaway. Next month we'll be looking at Landmarks close to Leeds; with Glasgow and and Cardiff coming later in this new series of blogs. 

Warden Abbey

The last fragment of a once-great Cistercian Abbey, Warden Abbey stands isolated in the quiet fields of rural Bedfordshire. Above the asymmetrical building's charming patchwork of red brick walls, its magnificent barley twist chimney reaches towards the heavens. Through a satisfyingly heavy wooden door, a turreted spiral staircase leads to an open living area with a warming wood burning stove and views of the surrounding tree-dotted countryside.

Lying close to the model village of Old Warden (where there are two other Landmarks, chocolate-box Queen Anne’s Summerhouse and woodland-retreat Keeper’s Cottage), Warden Abbey is within easy reach of the handsome and popular Hare and Hound village pub. Slightly further afield is the magnificent Woburn Abbey with parkland, a folly-filled garden and a cheery café.

Under an hour and a half drive from London, or a 20 minute taxi journey from Bedford train station, Warden Abbey sleeps up to five and is available at prices from £360

 

Methwold Old Vicarage

In a quiet Norfolk village, Methwold Old Vicarage’s chief glory is its unique brick gable end with a patterned and octagonal chimney stack. To stay here is an opportunity to pad about on gleaming terracotta floor tiles and uneven creaking wooden floors, to admire 16th-century wall paintings and to stoke the open fire under moulded wooden beams. You eat, sleep and laugh in a 15th-century jettied timber-framed range within which 21st-century cares drift from the mind.

Directly opposite the Old Vicarage lies the magnificent village church, St. George’s, while a pub and a fish and chip shop - handily open until 9pm on Fridays – also await you in the village. Only a 12-minute drive away is the charming moated manor house Oxburgh Hall, complete with a secret priest’s hole, for a quintessential National Trust day out.

A two hour drive from London, or a 15 drive minute taxi journey from Brandon train station, Methwold Old Vicarage sleeps up to five and is available at prices from £305

 

Obriss Farm

A mix of timber, brick and tile, Obriss is a picture-perfect farm situated on the lower slopes of Toys Hill in Kent. The farmhouse and its surrounding buildings – smoke house, threshing bar, byres, stable and sheds – look south over the Weald, almost blending into a landscape largely unchanged since the 1840s.

The farmlands remain in use. As such, it seems almost a necessity to dine well while staying within Obriss’s red-brick walls. Generous full English breakfasts should be followed by roast dinners; puddings, hot from the oven, should be eaten in front the sitting room fire. In the large and ancient farmhouse kitchen, washing up seems less of a chore than at home. Intersperse the feasting with visits to nearby Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s family home, or to Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home.

One hour and 20 minutes' drive from London, or a ten-minute taxi journey from Edenbridge train station, Obriss Farm sleeps up to five and is available at prices from £406

 

The Old Parsonage

A rectory was first built in the elegant Oxfordshire village of Iffley in the 12th century. The current building, The Old Parsonage, has significant fabric surviving from before the Reformation, in addition to alterations made in the 19th century.

During daylight hours the great joy of The Old Parsonage lies in its location: it sits next to the enchantingly beautiful St Mary the Virgin Church and from a nearby towpath you can walk into the centre of Oxford within 40 minutes. An unexpectedly long garden runs from the kitchen door down to the River Thames: perched on a perfectly positioned water-side bench you can watch the world go by over a cup of Clipper tea. Lavender, rosemary and a seemingly-ancient mulberry tree bloom immediately in front of the sitting room window and its cushioned window seat.

As dusk falls you retreat inwards, fastening window shutters and closing curtains. The wood-panelled sitting room and dining parlour come alive with the flickering light of warming fire. Play monopoly and feast; fall asleep reading a book.

Under an hour and a half's drive from London, or a 15-minute taxi journey from Oxford train station, The Old Parsonage sleeps up to six and is available at prices from £752

 

Peake's House

A merchant’s house with late-Elizabethan interiors, evenly set wall timbers and long mullioned windows, Peake’s House is one of Landmark’s quiet gems. It exudes character and sense of place. The luxuriously sized sitting room calls out for a roaring fire in its ginormous grate, for champagne to be popped and for celebrations to be enjoyed late into the night. The bedrooms meanwhile save their best for mornings: you wake up, enveloped by your timber-framed surroundings, with a sense of living in history.

Peake’s House is located in the historic Dutch Quarter of Colchester, once the centre of the town’s prosperous cloth trade and which has retained its old street layout. Only a few steps away from the high street, you can pop to the shops for the morning paper and return before anyone notices you're gone. The historic town has much to offer, such as Colchester Castle - the largest Norman Keep in Europe.

Less than an hour and a half's drive from London, or an eight-minute taxi journey from Colchester North train station, Peake’s House sleeps up to four and is available at prices from £251

 

Wilmington Priory

A picturesque medieval site, enhanced by many subsequent additions and alterations, Wilmington Priory was once a cell of a Benedictine Abbey in Normandy. Situated in the rolling South Downs, the site remains partly ruinous: large and comfortable rooms (including a kitchen roomier than many London flats) are framed by ruinous outer walls around which you can wander, mug of coffee in hand. The remains of a vaulted 13th-century entrance porch, a great chamber and a stair turret stand as though curiosities in the garden, while mullioned windows encase today’s welcoming living quarters.

Life in the village of Wilmington is watched over by the famous Long Man, who glistens and gleams in morning sunlight. Numerous walks and a characterful pub are on offer to all, while the sublime Charleston - the colourful and atmospheric home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant - is only minutes away. Also on the doorstep is Berwick Church, to which a pilgrimage must also be made by all Bell and Grant aficionados, while further afield is the Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, a worthy finalist for the 2014 Art Fund Museum of the Year Prize.

A two hour drive from London, or a ten-minute taxi journey from Polegate train station, Wilmington Priory sleeps up to six and is available at prices from £489