As Autumn crept in, we drove down a beautifully lit tree-lined gravel drive, leading to a manor house that looked as if it had stepped straight from a period drama. It undoubtedly has the wow factor and some! Even the downpipes have a surprising, delicately sculptured sailboat on them. Once through the fabulous wooden front door, the surprises continued, into the Entrance Hall, replete with a vast stone fireplace that has seen many centuries of service.
What has been done at The Manor so well, is to adapt, with a gentle, lightness of touch, a listed Tudor building into a country house hotel. Whilst its origins are even older, there’s an impressive medieval hall, you can imagine Bertie Wooster (with Jeeves of course) spending a weekend here, tootling about the grounds, taking breakfast in the charming Morning Room, and enjoying billiards after dinner in the Tudor Room. The ambiance is such that you feel as if a local aristocrat has opened the house to guests, and indeed, many of The Manor’s previous owners have been those very folk: several Earls and Lords among them. As was fitting for such a residence, it was surrounded by a moat full of fish and ducks, though it’s now sadly gone. When you visit, be sure to ask about the ghosts, mad Maude being one. Which property of such an age can escape them?
After a jolly aperitif in cosy Bertie’s bar (named for one of the esteemed families who owned The Manor), where tasty snacks and meals are available, we went through to The Baron’s Hall for dinner. This is quite an astonishing high-ceilinged room, most likely the very place where late 15th century local courts were held. And it seemed little changed, with fine linen fold oak panelling and a minstrel’s gallery to one end. The space lends itself to a special occasion and is used for intimate weddings just perfectly. The dinner menu uses fresh, local produce as befits a hotel in the Oxfordshire countryside. The grilled asparagus, crunchy but not hard, with a runny soft poached egg hit the spot, as did my main course of chicken and rabbit tarragon pie, with lusciously light puff pastry, fluffy, buttery mash and sweet hisbi cabbage, exactly right for an evening with a chill edging round it. The sticky toffee pudding clung gently to my ribs, exactly as it ought to, a million light years from that lump of schooldays!
The rooms at The Manor are divinely quirky, no two are the same given the building. You can stay in the old house, beware those ghosts, or across the courtyard in the stable block. All are charmingly appointed, with a scattering of tasteful cushions and there’s a honeymoon suite which offers a truly wonderful start to married life! The building may be old, however the bathrooms are modern and the beds comfortably well sprung. Corridors and staircases meander around corners, then to left and right, however every room is pleasantly light with pretty views over the grounds.
The morning brought real joy: the honey coloured stone weathered and aged hotel, sitting contentedly amidst such delightful gardens. A secret knot garden, perfect for a lovers’ tryst, along with beautifully maintained hedge gardens, with height and topiary, low, tracing patterns and all set in in lovely lawns: ideal for croquet I imagined. And of course, idyllic for summer weddings. All this is seen to perfection from the terrace, ideally situated for afternoon tea or an early evening glass of champagne. That said, this is a great hotel for families, with interconnecting rooms, space to run about, a tennis court (ask about the Wimbledon connection) and a swimming pool in the summer. It was a smart home in the past but one where families lived and played.
If you have a fondness for history, good food, friendly service and a guilty desire to stay in a hotel that could be a film location, try The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green.
About 60 miles from central London, easily reached from Marylebone into either Bicester station in under an hour.
20 minutes from Oxford.
An ideal base for the Cotswolds.
Handy for Bicester Village shopping, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens, Blenheim Palace, Broughton Castle and Hook Norton Brewery.
The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green