Wednesday, 30 November -0001
House about that?
As Downton Abbey returns to our screens, Wendy Gomersall reveals how you, too, can live in a house like thatBerkshire’s Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey in ITV’s splendid drama, is one hugely impressive home – but think of the dusting! Book yourself into one of these stately hotels and holiday homes for a few days instead and you can have all of the grandeur with none of the grief.
Leeds Castle (top) One of our most beautiful castles, built on islands in a lake in Kent, dates back to 1119. It was the favourite residence of King Edward I in 1278 but much of the original building has disappeared – most of what you see dates from the 19th century. It is nonetheless a pretty spectacular sight. It was used as a hospital during the Second World War, and in 1949 became the location for the fi lm Kind Hearts And Coronets. Who wouldn’t want to stay there – and now you can: five properties, including 16th-century Maiden’s Tower, can be rented as holiday homes; B&B can be booked in the stable courtyard rooms (from £90 per person, per night). Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent: 01622- 765400, www.leeds-castle.com
Stapleford Park, a 17th-century stately home near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, overlooks 500 acres of parkland created by Capability Brown. It has 55 bedrooms and offers guests the chance to try country pursuits, including falconry, archery and clay-pigeon shooting. One night costs from £90 per person, including breakfast and a morning paper. 0800-089 3929, www.prideofbritainhotels.com
The Ickworth on the 1,800-acre Ickworth Estate, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, is one of only a few hotels in England that sit within a property owned by the National Trust – it was gifted in 1956. The Italianate mansion comprises a central Rotunda, now a NT museum, the West Wing, an events venue, and the East Wing, where the family once lived. This part has been transformed into a luxury family hotel. There are 27 rooms, from the Butler’s Retreat to the Marquis’s bed chamber, from £165 per room, per night, including breakfast. 01284-735350, www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk
National Trust-owned Hartwell House & Spa in Lower Hartwell in the Vale of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was once home to the exiled Louis XVIII. The 18th-century Grade I-listed stately home, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels, has 90 acres of gardens and parkland, plus an orangery-style spa building with large indoor pool, spa bath, steam room and sauna. There are 30 bedrooms and suites in the main house, and other accommodation in adjacent buildings. One night in a double room costs from £103 per person, including breakfast and the spa. 0800-089 3929, www.prideofbritainhotels.com
Capheaton Hall, a privately owned Jacobean mansion 20 miles from Newcastle, has been occupied by the same family for 700 years. Will and Eliza Browne-Swinburne have converted the West Wing into luxurious, self-catering accommodation with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, drawing room, dining room and kitchen. Guests can picnic by the lake, play tennis, barbecue on the terrace and explore the grounds. Trout fishing costs extra; stabling for your horse is available. Three-night breaks cost from £700 for up to eight people, including a hamper of fruit and veg from the garden; B&B is also available, from £120 per room, per night. 01830-530159, www.capheatonhall.co.uk
Sopwell House Hotel, Country Club & Spa, a Georgian country retreat in 12 acres of gardens near St Albans, Hertfordshire, was once the home of Lord Mountbatten. It has 129 rooms, suites and apartments and two restaurants and bars. Afternoon tea and cocktails can be enjoyed by the fireplace in the Library or in the Terrace Bar, overlooking the gardens. The Country Club & Spa has a 14.5-metre swimming pool, children’s pool, high-tech gym and a spa offering ESPA and Clarins treatments. Rooms cost from £109 per night. 01727-864477, www.sopwellhouse.co.uk
Prices given are lead-in, per person, or room, based on two sharing and subject to availability.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“PEOPLE cannot help being influenced by their surroundings and their environment; therefore how all important it is that both of these should be healthy and cheery, for health and happiness both go hand-in-hand.”The Lady. The Blessing of Old Health, 18th November 1920
PRIVATE HOUSE in Andover/Winchester area requires personable, experienced, professional cook with own transport (live-out). Must be calm, adaptable, energetic, happy to use seasonal produce from garden and able to provide healthy, imaginative dishes. In addition to producing meals for owners, required to provide lunch for estate staff during week. Usual hours 0800-1600, Monday-Friday, but flexibility required for w/e and evening work. Salary negotiable. Contact: Apply Box 15495Apply now
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