We are finishing up our time in England and head home tomorrow. In my spare moments throughout the trip, I’ve been busily sorting and processing photos in an attempt to wrestle more than 2,000 of them into a workable number for future blogs.
The good news is I’ve managed to get the ones done for Valentina’s Lost Orangery, which was our first self-catering stop on the trip.
While it looks like it’s been around forever, the building is actually from the 1980s and forms part of Euridge Manor Farm “ridge with yews” near Bath. The owner, John Robinson, is the founder of Jigsaw, a British clothing and accessories firm (for whom, incidentally, the Duchess of Cambridge worked after leaving University).
Light, airy and tropically warm, the Orangery proved to be a wonderful base for all our exploring in the area. The only glitch in the proceedings was the rather daunting approach to the place over very narrow and extremely muddy country roads. As you may recall, we went to the Orangery straight from the Member’s Meeting at Goodwood and the roads had been engulfed in snow for two days, most unusual for England. The last time that area had seen snow was 2003, apparently! Our little rental car (an ambulatory sewing machine in some respects) was a bit challenged (?!!). We made it, however, and the roads dried out over the next few days as the snow melted.
The place was enchanting at night (sorry – no tripod, so a bit blurry).
Here is a view out over the main house at twilight. Magical.
A large stone pool of water with a shell encrusted pediment sits against the long wall, flanked by marble topped console tables and mirrors either side.
The kitchen was extremely well equipped and we enjoyed many an evening curled up with a glass of wine and a light meal after a day of exploring.
On the last day before we departed we spotted the housekeeper, Alice, giving a tour to some guests and asked if we could snap a few pictures. She urged us to make ourselves at home and we spent a lovely half hour wandering around the property.
The Orangery is built at the back of a courtyard at the very top of a hill, overlooking a terrace, which in turn drops down to an outdoor swimming pool. You can just see the edge of the roof of the Orangery at the top of the photo below. The French doors lead into a gorgeous grotto-style indoor swimming pool, located immediately below the Orangery. So cool! The pool is only open in the wintertime; the family keeps it covered during the summer which is prime wedding season. A wise move – one can just imagine the antics a lå the pool fiasco in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Moving to the right of the photo below you can see just see where the stairs go up to the terrace outside the Orangery – they’re in shadow so a bit hard to spot. The stone wall incorporates vestigial remains of an abbey cloister to give an overall “Monastic settlement” effect.
The Main house is constructed of Bath stone, and is located at the opposite end of the level grass terrace with paved areas for eating near the house.
Dropping down again below the house and terrace is the grotto style outdoor pool.
Complete with ducks…
…who have their own little duck house. You can see it tucked behind the middle planter, just below the landing section of the staircase coming down on the right. My granddaughter Juliana would have been delighted.
Looking out over the pool from that same staircase.
The thatched roof cabana has a slip either side for a small boat.
They have incorporated some delightful details, which can be easy to overlook when trying to take in all the views.
I’m not quite sure what this is. A rabbit with gloves on his ears?
The pergolas either side of the thatched cabana are massive. It’s hard to convey the scale.
A doorway in the “ruin” wall leads to another whole area of the garden…
..which includes a walled kitchen garden, currently devoid of produce, but no doubt soon to come with warmer weather.
Everywhere you turn, there is another pathway to follow and view to enjoy stretching out over the hills.
Looking back through the ruin wall toward the house.
Closer to the house we spotted a charming little domestic detail; clearly the family had very well loved pets.
A final few shots…
The boys and Penny basking in the sun.
If you’re interested to read more about Euridge Manor Farm, the project is described in Landscape of Dreams by its landscape designers Isabel and Julian Bannerman. I didn’t have a chance to delve into the book in its entirety, but noted that it includes several other outstanding properties. Yum! A great book to ward off the winter blues, when our own gardens are still frozen solid.
I can highly recommend Unique Home Stays. It was the first time we had used the service, and both properties we rented through them were exceptional. Our next stop was Old Fox Cottage, a two-bedroom thatched cottage in a small village in Worcestershire (pronounced Wust-a-shur), like the sauce. 🙂 The cottage was a very cozy, well-appointed snug after the palatial expanses of Valentina’s Lost Orangery. Variety is indeed the spice of life!
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.