DEVON’S GRAND COUNTRY HOUSE HERITAGE – OUR FAVOURITE FIVE
DEVON’S BLESSED with some of Britain’s finest grand country estates. The gentry’s long been drawn to this beautiful county’s stately homes, country estates, manors, mansions, and castles.
Steeped in history, they tell the story of Devon and its Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses, wealthy merchants, and more.
What’s even better is that so many are open to everyone to have a look around. And, not only can you see how the other half lives, why not indulge your family and friends with a luxury homestay at a grand country house and garden – and have it all to yourself?
The breathtaking ASHLEY MANOR (pictured above) is nestled between the stunning North Devon coast and the wilds of Exmoor and welcomes up to 14 guests (for a look inside and to book, click here). We can even arrange for a private chef to give you a unique culinary experience with bespoke menus at home or arrange delivery of breakfast, ready-to-go roasts, or barbecue boxes.
And, while you enjoy an exquisite epicurean experience, why not plan a visit to some of the other magnificent mansions?
Here are five of the best…
For the world’s greatest crime writer, Greenway was the perfect getaway. The holiday home for Agatha Christie and her family, Greenway is one of the National Trust’s many Devon delights. Dive into the 1950s inside this grand Georgian home. Then explore the walled gardens and woodland before reclining in a deckchair to take an elevated view of the River Dart as it makes its way to the sea. Why not couple it with the celebrated annual Agatha Christie Festival held biannually in nearby Torquay, where Christie was born?
Not far from Greenway is another National Trust gem. This 1920s time capsule is an art deco dream. Built as a country retreat for the D’Oyly Carte family (of Savoy Hotel and Gilbert & Sullivan light opera fame), you get a real sense of their vibrant Jazz-era lifestyle. It’s got glamour, contrasts, and elegance throughout. You can really lose yourself in the gardens, too. Sheltered by giant trees, giving the gardens their own micro-climate, paths weave through an abundance of plants and flowers, past tranquil ponds, and glimpses of the sea down the Dart Valley.
Listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, there’s history everywhere at Ugbrooke. Still the private residence of the Honourable Alexander Clifford and his wife, the family open the doors to all during the summer with daily guided tours. This house has gone through good times and bad before being rescued from disrepair in the 1950s. Take in the formal gardens and the Capability Brown landscaping, enjoy a Devon Cream Tea in The Orangery, or picnic on the lawns.
Let’s raise a glass to this Totnes treat. The original home of the iconic Dartington Crystal handmade glassware, this 1,200-acre estate today is a bustling hub for the arts, ecology, and social justice (there are short courses on farming, arts, and crafts). While you can only admire the Grade I-listed hall from outside, the Grade II-listed gardens will fill the day. There have been gardens here for a thousand years, now boasting unique plants, ancient trees, stunning vistas, riverside walks, and a deer park. There’s also eclectic boutique shopping at the sympathetically-restored Cider Press Centre, where you can also charge up your EV.
It must’ve paid to be a good sommelier in Tudor times – this sumptuous, substantial abbey was gifted by Henry VIII to the Keeper of his Wine Cellar. And it really wears its history well. Inside, the furniture and artworks are a journey through the ages – mediaeval, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency, and Victorian. There are woodland and walled garden walks, and a restored circular path takes you on a short walk down to the sea and a rugged Atlantic cove.