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The National Trust transforms medieval manor into holiday house


The National Trust has announced that holidaymakers will have the chance to stay in a medieval manor house thanks to a transformation that has created the grandest and oldest holiday property in the National Trust’s portfolio.

Shute Barton, near Axminster in east Devon, dates back to the 13th century and is part of what was a larger family house owned by the Bonville family. It has stood through a staggering amount of history from the dissolution of the monasteries through to the Second World War.

The house - which has reputedly the largest fireplace in England where two oxen could be roasted at once - was given to the National Trust in 1959 by the Carew Pole family. Cousins of this family, the Pole Carews, lived there until 2009.

Gareth Dempster, holiday cottage supervisor for the National Trust, said: “The family had chosen to move out and it became clear that the house required some extensive renovation work including stonework restoration to the battlements outside and new heating, electrics and decoration inside. After two years of hard work, we are proud that the house still retains its fine original features.”

The features include 17th century panelling in one of the master bedrooms and a great hall on the top floor dating from 1450 that is reached by a tiny spiral staircase. The room has a garderobe in the corner and an incredible hammer beam roof which can be enjoyed by guests today when they holiday at Shute Barton.

Gareth continued: “The Trust decided that making Shute Barton a place where people can stay and enjoy holidays was a great solution to keeping the house a family home, as it has been for over 500 years. By booking holidays there, people are also contributing to the upkeep of the Trust’s work in the East Devon coast and countryside. And as we are still opening the house to the public on weekends throughout the year, day visitors can get to come and enjoy its unique atmosphere.”

Guests can dine under original paintings belonging to the Carew Pole family, sleep in antique beds and look out of the original windows to views little altered over the centuries. The house is approached through an ornate gatehouse - a scheduled monument in its own right - and there are formal gardens which stretch out to the back of the building.

The house, which accommodates ten people, is an ideal venue for a special family holiday in incredible surroundings, and is well located for the sites such as the Jurassic Coast and the attractive coastal villages of Beer and Seaton. It is available for bookings from February 2011.

About the National Trust:
The National Trust is a charity with a love for preserving historic places and spaces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Our commercial activities raise much-needed income to support our conservation work. Our income-generating activities include shops (both at properties and on the high street), restaurants and cafeterias, plant centres, holiday cottages, a brand licensing programme, corporate partnerships, wedding and function hire, publishing activities and a film location business.

The National Trust Holiday Cottages offer a number of beautiful properties across the UK, including holiday cottages in south Devon, dog friendly cottages, holiday cottages in Dorset and holiday cottages in the Isle of Wight.

PR Contact: 
Jane Travis
National Trust Press Office
Kemble Drive
07796 191280 / 01793 818506


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