Tuesday, 13 August 2013

I'm back....

after a great week away.

Our latest trip was four days staying in the beautiful Down Hall Country House Hotel in Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire.

The first Down Hall was a tudor house, once owned by poet Matthew Prior.  Prior was acquainted with landscaper Charles Bridgeman, who he commissioned to landscape the estate's gardens.

 Down Hall is surrounded by 110 acres (0.45 km2) of woodland, parkland and landscaped gardens, some of which is protected by the Essex Wildlife Trust.

After Prior's death in 1721 (just one year after buying the property), the house was passed to his friend Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer,  who undertook further rebuilding. Twenty years later, and with the house still unfinished, Harley died.

Upon Harley's death in 1741, the house was purchased by William Selwin for £4500.    The estate remained in the Selwin family until 1902, where – on the death of Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, 1st Baron Rookwood (who had commissioned its full rebuilding in the late 1860s) – the Selwin and Ibbetson lineage died out.

During the First World War, the house was used as a sanatorium for wounded soldiers.  The estate was affected by the post-World War I recession and was subsequently sold at auction.   Following its sale, the house was used as a school (Downham School, 1932–c.1967) and an antiques business and conference centre (1967–1986).

In 1986, the estate was purchased by the Veladail Group, who have operated the site as a four star hotel, conference centre and wedding venue since.   British television personality, Jade Goody wed her partner Jack Tweed at Down Hall on 22 February 2009, there was a wedding held at the hotel whilst we were staying there.

The interior of Down Hall is beautiful, decorated in keeping with the house's grandeur.

Our bedroom was located on the ground floor,

overlooking the gardens.

Dinner was scheduled for 6.30 p.m. so we just had time to change before heading for the lovely dining room.

Just as a taster for you,  this was the menu for dinner on the first night.

Leek & Potato Soup
Potted Chicken Liver Parfait with Red Onion Chutney and warm toast
70's style Prawn Cocktail

Roasted Plum Cherry Tomato and Mixed Pepper Pappardelle, Buffalo Bocconcini and Herb Salad
Roast Breast of Corn Fed Chicken, Wild Mushroom and Parsley Risottto, Chorizo Oil
Pan fried fillet of Sea Trout, Spinach and Spring Vegetable Broth

Strawberry Eton Mess
Warm Apple and Blackberry Crumble with clotted cream
Selection of English and French Cheese with biscuits and chutney

We enjoyed a nice bottle of Merlot with dinner, which we finished drinking on the terrace as it was such a warm evening,

before retiring to our room for the night.

Join me next time for our visit to Cambridge.


Melanie said...

I just love when you return from a trip!! I always enjoy the photos!!

CrystalChick said...

Beautiful... inside and out! Quite a lovely four days, it certainly seems.
The giant chess board looks fun.

Banker Chick said...

This looks like it was a delightful 4 days...can't wait to hear more.

Ron said...

Wow! Wow! Wow!

What a STUNNING place - inside AND out!

Great photos because you really get a sense of the elegance and grander!

Love the outside chess board!

And those last two shots of you and MWM are a perfect expression of how much you enjoyed yourselves.

Oooo...and that Merlot sounded yummy!

Great pictorial tour, m'dear! Thoroughly enjoyed!


Beach Bum said...

My wife would freak. she would love that place it's everything she wants in the trip we are planning! Going to email her the your link.

nitebyrd said...

So beautiful!

And the food ... YUM!

Cloudia said...

So glad to see you enjoying, dear:-)


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

wow. fabulous!!!

smiles, bee

Valerie said...

And you didn't invite me to dinner... shucks.

Loved the pictures, Pearl. It looks a fabulous place and well worth visiting.

Valerie said...

Meant to say, have you ever thought of being a travel writer... you should because you've very good at describing all the places you've seen.

Akelamalu said...

So glad you enjoy my photos Melanie x

It was a lovely 4 days CrystalChick, we didn't actually play chess. ;)

Yes it was BankerChick, more to come. x

The hotel was really lovely Ron, my pics don't really do it justice honestly.

If your wife wants any more information about the place I'll happily furnish them Beach x

Yes it was and so was the food Nitebyrd :)

Thanks Cloudia x

It really was Bee x

Oh yes it is worth a visit Valerie the only downside was the drinks were way overpriced! I'm so glad what I write about the places we visit comes over well, thankyou. x

Sandi McBride said...

Envy, thy name is Sandi! I would love to walk the hills of England once again and plan to do so before I go...the is breath taking
Welcome home

mrsnesbitt said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Loved the menu! Hotel looked fab too Pearl!

Travis Cody said...

Looks lovely.

MorningAJ said...

That looks amazing. A little luxury never hurts, does it? What did you choose from that menu?

Akelamalu said...

Oh yes, it is beautiful Sandi x

Both were fab Denise!

It was Trav :)

I had the Chicken Liver Parfait, the Trout and the cheese and biscuits AJ. Only complaint - could have done with more toast to eat all the parfait. I suppose I could have eaten what was left with a spoon but the place was a bit too posh to do that! LOL

politelyinsulting said...

I love these pictures, so beautiful. I am especially grateful for you posting them as it's very close to where I come from... Although Cambridge is closer so I'll be back for that installment :) You always seem to make the most of everywhere you go, well done for that!

Akelamalu said...

Oh I'm glad the pics have brought some good memories for you politelyinsulting, I hope the ones we took in Cambridge will bring back more. x

Secret Agent Woman said...


Do you guys ever just hang out at home?

Akelamalu said...

Oh yes SAW we're at home when we're not away! ;)

Daryl said...

you always have the best holidays

Akelamalu said...

We try our best Daryl xx