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.
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,
Join me next time for our visit to Cambridge.