The Landmark Trust - 50 for free

When I visited the Landmark Trust's Astley Castle last year, it left a powerful and lasting impression on me, so I was pleased when Witherord Watson Mann's restoration project was, to widespread popular approval, announced as the winner of this year's Stirling Prize. The combination of the emotional power of the ruins and the history associated with the building, and its contemporary transformation into an intelligent piece of modern architecture, offers a thought-provoking experience for those lucky enough to visit and/or stay in it.

"Staying in a beautiful and important historical building can be an inspiring, uplifting and transformative experience" says Anna Keay, Director of the Landmark Trust, who have today launched a new scheme called 50 for Free. Thanks to a generous philanthropic donation the Trust will be giving away completely free breaks in outstanding buildings to the nominees of charities and other not for profit or educational organisations.

The Landmark Trust is inviting these organisations to apply for the 50 free breaks on behalf of individuals and groups or individuals they think would benefit - groups such as carers, volunteers, struggling families unable to afford a holiday, the bereaved and educational and non-profit groups.

It's a sad fact that as many as one in three families in the UK can't afford a simple break away from home. The Landmark Trust hope that those finding life hard, for whatever reason, will feel restored and reinvigorated by this opportunity to experience staying in one of these special buildings.

Unfortunately, Astley Castle is so popular that it is already completely booked up for the coming months, but the 50 for Free scheme does include some of the Trust's most popular and spectacular buildings. Amongst them are The Pineapple, an ornamental folly near Stirling, Anderton House near Barnstaple, a Grade II* modernist building designed by Peter Aldington, and Goddards in Surrey, an Arts and Crafts masterpiece built by Edwin Lutyens as a retreat for working women in the 1890s.

The 50 short breaks will take place between 10th and 17th March 2014. If you know someone who you think deserves to be nominated you can find out more at

Image: Astley Castle - The Landmark Trust