Banqueting House, The Cotswolds
I’ve been bursting to share this place with you.
It was a last minute find on a particularly dreary afternoon in London, I had a hankering for rolling hills, crackling fires, muddy boots & crumble. An itch only the British countryside can scratch.
Idle thumbs tapped The Landmark Trust into the web, where I found their spectacularly well organised “last minute” page. I spotted and immediately fell in love with The West Banqueting House of Chipping Campden (not to be confused with Chipping Norton, which I may have done on the sat-nav…. and you can imagine my husband’s delight upon finding we’d gone to the wrong place!) I booked it immediately and we set off that very weekend.
It rained the whole way there, through both Chipping villages, but as soon as we arrived we had a brief respite from the drizzle, giving us just enough time to unpack the travelling circus.
The key was left under a stone in the garden, and you’re advised to transport your luggage by wheelbarrow.
Fancy, it ‘aint. But goodness it is beautiful.
Hidden away behind an old wall, it’s kept private from the village.
Your own secret little world.
Built entirely from cubes of golden Cotswold butter.
No sooner had we thrown the last suitcase over the threshold, than it started to rain again.
But what I had assumed would be a cold, draghty old house, was remarkably warm and cosy.
The Landmark Trust do the most incredible job of rescuing old houses and bringing them back to life, while they value historical integrity over aesthetics, they have at least stretched to the luxury of underfloor heating. Which to anyone who’s spent time in old English houses is quite the surprise, a welcome one at that!
West Banqueting House is made of up one large living area, with a bedroom and bathroom upstairs.
The sofas & armchairs are big and sumptuous, but the rugs are truly filthy so if you’re bringing someone who likes to roll around on the floor (who doesn’t?!) then come prepared!
You’ll need to bring your own groceries, I brought some homemade cottage pies and such as I didn’t know how good the kitchen would be, but it was great so I needen’t have bothered.
The housekeeper kindly leaves a couple of teabags and a little jug of milk.
The bedroom upstairs is simple & comfy.
With a view of The Almonry, which is yours too!
With the light fading we pulled on our wellies and went out in search of puddles.
Excited to be out in the fresh air with the whole weekend stretched out before us.
We ducked into the little Almonry which comes as part of the rental.
A charming little sitting room, leading into a little castle-like stone staircase…
…that leads up to another bedroom.
Where you could wave to your friends in the master bedroom!
The most charming little honeypot cottage.
After a wet trudge around the grounds, we headed back into the warmth for supper.
And bedtime stories beside the fire.
All about a princess who ran away from London to find their own little castle in the country, complete with dragons and adventures along the way, and no prince to rescue her, because real princesses don’t need to be rescued.
Once said princess was safely tucked into bed, the king & queen tucked the baby monitor into a pocket and took themselves for a romantic stroll in the last of the evening light.
In 1613 wealthy merchant Sir Baptist Hicks built a new house in Chipping Campden in the very latest style with equally fashionable formal gardens. Just 30 years later retreating Royalist soldiers burnt his mansion to the ground; only a single fragment remains. Other lesser buildings on the site survived. Two pepperpot lodges frame the gateway beside Campden’s wool church, and two exceptional Jacobean banqueting houses with exuberant strapwork parapets and barley sugar twist chimneys face each other across a former terrace. The skeleton of the Jacobean gardens is still visible beneath the Cotswold turf. Today the two banqueting houses provide the main accommodation for two Landmarks, with the Almonry, a fine little building of unknown purpose, acting as an annexe for one.
In the seventeenth century Sir Baptist’s guests would have retired to this building for their ‘banquet’ (or dessert course) at the end of the meal to drink rare wines, eat dried fruit and sweetmeats and admire their host’s domain.
Across the former terrace (now just a field) you’ll find East Banqueting House, which you can also rent.
In 1613 the newly enriched Sir Baptist Hicks began work on a house here in Gloucestershire. It was designed in the latest Court fashion, which probably seemed rather flamboyant to local masons who were used to the simpler local architectural tradition. The East and West Banqueting Houses stand at either end of the broad terrace that ran along the garden in front of Old Campden House. They serve as a reminder of the richness and quality of the main house before it was razed to the ground. Today it is one of the most important Jacobean sites in the country and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Both properties overlook the local church and surrounding countryside.
It feels like such a treat to have so much space just for you.
And there’s just no better feeling that cosying up beside the fire with a good book and cup of tea.
There’s no wifi and very little phone signal at the house, so a reminder of the simple pleasures in life.
Come morning the light floods in through the master bathroom windows, leaving you bathed in gold while you soak in the generously sized tub.
We were relieved to find that the clouds had finally rained themselves dry, so pulled on our winter woolies and headed out in search of breakfast.
But more on that next time!
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