The inspiring women behind our cottages

This year we’re marking 100 years since women first gained the vote in the UK by exploring women’s history. From best-selling author Agatha Christie to suffragette Amy Sharp, our holiday cottages have connections to inspiring and influential women.

Stay at one of these special places and discover the stories of the pioneering women who once called them home.

Agatha Christie's rural retreat

Greenway was the beloved holiday home of the much-loved author and playwright, Agatha Christie. Agatha bought Greenway in 1938 and the house was owned by her family until 2000 when her daughter donated it to the National Trust.

Agatha called Greenway 'the loveliest place in the world' and would spend her summer and Christmas holidays there with her friends and family, relaxing by the river, playing croquet and reading her latest mystery novel to her guests. 

Agatha Christie and her family sat outside Greenway
Agatha Christie and her family sat outside of their holiday home Greenway
Agatha Christie and her family sat outside Greenway

The family were great travellers and collectors, and the house is full of their original belongings, including archaeological treasures, letters and books.

Greenway was also a source of writing inspiration for Agatha, and the house and gardens inspired the setting for her story Dead Man's Folly.

Amy Sharp's Lake District sanctuary

Silverthwaite holiday cottage was built by suffragist and literary critic, Amy Amelia Sharp.

Amy was among the early female students at Newham College, Cambridge, studying there from 1879 – 83. Although Amy attended the university, Cambridge denied women the honour of graduating with a full degree until 1948. She had to wait until 1905 to be awarded a BA degree by Trinity College, Dublin. 

Amy Sharp designed Silverthwaite so that every room catches the sun and has a view
Double bedroom of Silverthwaite holiday cottage, Lake District
Amy Sharp designed Silverthwaite so that every room catches the sun and has a view

When Amy moved to the Lake District in 1896 she took an active part of the women’s suffrage movement and co-founded the Ambleside branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). 

In the early 1900s, Amy arranged for Silverthwaite to be built to her specifications. An admirer of the Arts and Craft Movement, Amy designed the house so that every room, save the kitchen and bathroom, catches the sun and has a view.

Vita Sackville-West's garden paradise

Priest's House holiday cottage sits in the garden of Sissinghurst Castle, the former home of writer Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson. Born in 1892, Vita was a prolific fiction writer, prize-winning poet and gardener.

Vita and Harold purchased Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, a then run-down Elizabethan mansion in Kent. Together they renovated the house and gardens, transforming them into a place of tranquil beauty.

Vita Sackville-West created this beautiful garden at Sissinghurst
The White Garden in summer at Sissinghurst Castle
Vita Sackville-West created this beautiful garden at Sissinghurst

As well as creating a world-famous garden, they adapted several of the buildings to provide their living accommodation. Vita had her writing room in the Tower, Harold his study in South Cottage and Priest’s House held the kitchen and dining room. As Vita’s health began to fail in the early 1960’s she moved into Priest’s House and spent her final years there. 

Fanny Wilkinson's country manor

Middlethorpe Hall is the former home of Fanny Wilkinson, one of the first women to have a professional career as a landscape gardener. 

Fanny worked as a landscape gardener for the Kyrle Society. A forerunner of the National Trust, the Kyrle Society was founded by Miranda Hill, sister of National Trust co-founder Octavia Hill. As part of her role, Fanny was responsible for designing and laying out Vauxhall Park in London.

The house and garden at Middlethorpe Hall Hotel and Spa
The house and garden at Middlethorpe Hall Hotel and Spa, Yorkshire
The house and garden at Middlethorpe Hall Hotel and Spa

Fanny's family owned Middlethorpe Hall and she moved into the house after her father's death in 1878. Set in acres of beautiful Yorkshire countryside, Middlethorpe undoubtedly served as a source of inspiration for Fanny's garden designs.

As Fanny said, ‘When my father died we went to live at our own place, near York [Middlethorpe], and there I began to devote myself to gardening in a practical way’. 

Stay somewhere extraordinary

Our holiday accommodation are handpicked for individual character and unique locations. From gatehouses to lighthouses, gardeners’ cottages to country manors – each one has its own story to tell.

100 years of female suffrage

Discover more about what we're doing to mark 100 years since the Representation of the People Act. Uncover the untold stories of the women who helped shape our places with exhibitions, installations, podcasts and more.