I was intrigued as to what this Landmark house share would be. And perhaps in hindsight a more appropriate description would have been “House share and volunteer working week”.
The Fort’s General Manager (Ed Donohue) and his maintenance colleague (Bob Metcalf) put together a very attractive programme and were there to welcome us. I think the Crownhill Fort is perhaps unique within the Landmark estate as it is a holiday home located within a historic military centre. This includes a visitor experience, nature reserve and a local employment centre. We even had a bat detector to entertain us over dinner!
We spent two out of our three full days at the Fort participating in volunteer tasks. On the first day we helped other Landmark volunteers preparing and repointing a section of the perimeter wall of the Fort with a traditional lime mortar. We also had a conducted tour of the Fort’s extensive underground passages, rooms and equipment.
The Fort was hosting a visit the next day from members of 29 Commando Royal Artillery who had the opportunity to fire the Fort’s 32 pounder cannon dating from 1811 as well as their modern L118 Light Gun as part of a Battery birthday. We were welcome to watch and listen from a safe distance!
The third day was taken up with clearing ivy, old wire and scrub from a number of concrete fence posts surrounding part of the Fort with other Landmark volunteers. On both of these working days, our efforts seemed so small in comparison with the scale of the Fort, but both Bob and Ed seemed to appreciate our efforts.
Maintaining the Fort
The Landmark holiday flat is within the Officers’ Quarters – a bright and spacious suite of rooms with all the facilities we have come to expect of a Landmark, but with a roof covered in 7 feet of soil and turf (as protection from enemy canon fire). The Fort was built on top of a hill, with the buildings carefully contoured to be hidden from invaders. To give an idea of the size of the Fort, the military complement was 5 officers, 3 sergeants and 110 men.
We ended up with a good mixture of experiences, over and above those we have come to expect of a Landmark holiday. Thanks to the Landmark team for a great house share experience!