Once a Rectory and then a cherished family home, Barnsley House has a rich history dating back many hundreds of years. More recently, it became the passion project of Rosemary Verey, who loved and adored the house where she and her family lived for 51 years, and transformed its gardens into a National jewel which eventually accommodated 30,000 visitors a year, all coming to marvel at her green fingered creations. A self taught gardener, Rosemary used her natural creative talents, pulling on styles from the 16th and 17th Century, and eventually went on to achieve an OBE, awarded by her client, Prince Charles.
In the summer tide of 2009, that The Calcot Collection eagerly jumped at the chance to take Barnsley House under their wing.
With its reassuring countryside aroma (a heady mixture of cow dung that wafts from the farm next door), the rolling verdant hills, the cheerful tweeting of garden birds, punctuated by meows from two sleepy farmyard cats bathing in winter sun, you might fall in love with Barsnley House from the moment you arrive. Or perhaps it will take you another few minutes, until you arrive at your bedroom. Ours, nestled in a secret garden complete with a small pond and panoramic glass windows, was a state of the art, calming refuge from the world. A modern four poster bed, a capacious stone bath, two flat screen TV’s for your guilty pleasures, a lounge area, a sleek modern bathroom with wet room and two sinks. I would happily be exiled here for months. We did pop out for a quick walk to make the most of the light, and borrowed a pair of Hunter wellies from the hotel’s large assortment. A really nice idea.
Before dinner, I made a quick visit to the Spa, walking through the pretty gardens down a winding path in my dressing gown. It was quite liberating really, and deeply refreshing. In that magic afternoon sun just before the it sets, bathed in a golden glow, Barnsley House is stunning. I had a relaxing steam and sauna, a few glasses of restorative cucumber water, and then watched the sun go down from the hydrotherapy pool outside. The Spa facility makes use of large glass windows to give the feeling of being truly immersed in the countryside. Like everything here, its modern design melds seamlessly into its surroundings.
After a cocktail in the ultra cool bar, near a warming log fire, we dined. Highlights included Hand dived scallops with aromatic pineapple carpaccio and chilli jam, a winning combination, and I couldn’t resist the Haunch of Venison, locally sourced and served with rosti potato, cavolo nero, poached quince and red wine salsify. Well balanced, truly delicious.
The next morning we had an early start, but we couldn’t miss breakfast. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, a really good flat white coffee, and a view of the stunning gardens that all added to high levels of contentment for a Monday morning.
To stay at this brilliant country house hotel, visit www.barnsleyhouse.com or call 01285 740000.