In September 2010, Landmark France was established as a separate, not-for-profit organisation set up by the Landmark Trust in Britain to assist in the preservation of historic buildings in France. In a very clever endeavour, a cross-cultural partnership agreement was signed between Landmark Trust and the French government coastal conservation agency, le Conservatoire du littoral. Together they will pursue the restoration of historic buildings owned by the Conservatoire round the French coast.
Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, the main house
The couple was still in exile after the war. Banned from Britain and with no meaningful jobs, the Windsors had to settle for a very active social life on the international scene. The official home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from 1950 was a C19th villa in the Bois de Boulogne, on the western outskirts of Paris. Belonging to the Paris town hall, the house was given to the Windsors at a nominal rent to encourage them to move to France. But they never liked it much because it was too public. So Le Moulin de la Tuilerie became their "country weekend residence", although it is only 35km south of Paris (on the edge of the town of Gif-sur-Yvette). They used their rural estate from 1952 till 1972.
Edward loved the 18th century mill site and commissioned English garden designer, Russell Page, to design the gardens. Apparently the Duke tended the gardens himself. The three buildings are set around a courtyard behind huge oak gates, and the grounds open onto views of the valley beyond. It was the Windsors who expanded the guest accommodation into the mill’s outbuildings, so it was important that these cottages should retain a sense of their simple, utilitarian spaces. And in any case, much of Wallis’ garish and charmless decoration inside the main mill house was stripped out by the person who owned the property in the 1980s and 1990s. Each Landmark has a private terrace, and visitors can sip wine on the parterre and wander around the extensive landscaped gardens that the Duke had loved.
I haven’t been there, but Charlotte Higgins says the faces of the former king and his spouse leer from photographs on almost every wall of La Célibataire. This was/is the sweet little guest cottage in which Cecil Beaton is said to have stayed when he visited the couple. Even better, the artist Fernand Léger lived in the town, staying in a handsome house close by, just when the Windsors bought the Moulin from the artist Etienne Drian.
Francophiliac blog said that in addition to properties in the UK, The Landmark Trust has four spectacular properties in Italy, including the Florentine home of Robert and Elizabeth Browning, plus places with connections to the poets Shelley and Keats.
The Gardener’s Eden blog visited Scott Farm which belongs to the Landmark Trust USA, an organisation dedicated to the preservation of historic places. It is a 626 acre property with buildings and historic orchards. Some of the buildings on the large property are available for holiday rental, including the Dutton Farmhouse overlooking Scott Farm, Rudyard Kipling’s former home Naulakha, and Scott Farm Sugarhouse.
The French organisation Le Conservatoire du littoral already has active restoration projects underway in coastal Brittany and Charente-Maritime, places that should be ready for letting in the next couple of years. The former will be based in old sardine fishery offices on an island off the Breton coast at Douarnanez, just south of Brest. Douarnenez was blockaded by the British fleet in Napoleonic times and was for centuries a base from which French privateers raided British shipping.