The Ollerod

96 Reviews

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January, 2019

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We recently stayed in The Ollerod, formerly known as the Bridge House Hotel in the delightful town of Beaminster, in West Dorset.

Beaminster is known for its historical heritage and is home of some talented artists as well as the location for the 2015 Hardy adaptation of ‘Far From The Maddening Crowd.’

The Ollerod (which means ‘cowslip’), was bought by former Michelin-starred chef Chris Staines and his partner Silvan Bandini.

Upon arrival, we were met with a friendly greeting and shown to Room 6 located on the ground floor . This was a superior, spacious room tastefully refurbished with a comfortable King sized bed and with Italian Frette bed linen. A large TV in one corner and coffee/tea facilities with home-made biscuits made up into a special little bag. Wardrobe facility was spacious and a couple of chairs with a table. View from the window was looking into the rear garden. All bedrooms are individually styled.

The en suite bathroom was a good size with a great, corner bath/shower and with organic toiletries.

We enjoyed a really good evening meal and could not fault any of it. An adjoining room leads off from the dining room with bar and restaurant which can be opened up to accommodate additional diners when necessary.

A covered terrace can be used for functions for up to 30 guests. Produce is sourced from surrounding areas as well as the Ollerod’s own garden which grows vegetables and herbs. The menu is always evolving and changing with new dishes introduced every 2 weeks. I had a pressed terrine of confit chicken, shitake mushrooms, potato capers & mustard as a starter, followed by a moist, delicious Sea Bass. Being diabetic, the chef kindly made up a fruit salad for me as a dessert.

Breakfast was good with a variety of cereals, seeds and yoghurt etc. We had a very nice full English but there were other choices available. Smoothies, home-made bread, croissants – all enjoyable.

The history of the house is interesting. I usually ask for information when visiting places.

The Ollerod was once a clergy house, and although now stylishly renovated, it still retains many features, including stone mullioned windows, inglenook fireplaces and oak beams. It is possible that ten or twelve priests could have lived there, serving the Minster Church and taking other services in the surrounding villages. Shortly after the reformation, it seems the house belonged to a Catholic family who employed a priest – a matter of great danger at the time. There is a Priest’s hole in the house, possibly located at the top of an original staircase that has been sealed off, leaving no access to it, apart from an attic room which could have been the priest’s own bedroom. In the attics are evidences of two earlier roofs, the earliest between 1600-1700 during which time a wing was added to the house to provide a kitchen and scullery and two upstairs rooms. Sah windows were put in the newer wing in late Georgian times. A room at the East end of this wing has a good georgian ceiling and an Adam mantelpiece of which the mouldings are covered with silver pewter. A single, Georgian staircase leads from the hall. A downstairs sitting room was panelled in white painted pine and the oak beams encased in pine to match the panelling. The Adam mantelpiece was moved to the panelled room downstairs in 1946-47.

The original coach house was restored and converted into bedrooms in 1988 and in 1991 an extension to the newer wing was built to provide five new bedrooms.

So much character and generations of history passing through this oldest building in Beaminster. You can snuggle up to a warm fire in winter, or enjoy a garden supper in the summer. It is family friendly and the hotel can even provide a ‘potty’ if you forget to pack one!

Caroline Hutchings

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