The absence of formal titles needn’t be a barrier to experiencing the life of a lord or lady. Whether you would like a romantic break or a big family gathering, it’s wonderful to have run of a refined estate.
My partner, Tom, and I arrive in the small Wiltshire village of Upton Scudamore. I spot ‘our’ manor house sitting behind a great steel gate and, excited, call Audrey the housekeeper to let her know we’ve arrived.
As if by magic, the gates slowly open – revealing our medieval treasure in its full glory. The sprawling stone house has a path of elegantly trimmed trees leading up to it and creepers winding their way around its arched mullion windows.
Audrey leads us in, past a deep old well. Breathing in the nostalgic air of wood smoke we are soon enchanted. To the left is the kitchen but straight ahead, through a medieval timber door, is the Great Hall.
We walk into the hall and see the Minstrels Gallery – accessed via the second floor. This is where entertainers would have performed on high for visiting guests. It’s hard to take it all in at once, and my gaze flits from the chandelier hanging from the truss ceiling, to the coats of arms above the fireplace.
Built in 1350, the Grade II-listed six-bedroomed house has lived many lives. Walking along the creaking, uneven floorboards upstairs, I imagine the stories they could tell. Even the owners are still making new discoveries – when getting the chimney swept they discovered another 18th-century fireplace buried inside the wall, 12 feet up.
To the manor born
Having undergone various restorations, including a major one in the 1980s, Scudamore’s interior is a fusion of eras.
In 2007, the current owners decorated and furnished the gargantuan property in just six weeks, filling it with antiques, gold-framed paintings and personal trinkets and photos, so the house feels today like a much-loved family home.
It doesn’t take long for us to settle into our palatial residence. We soon fill the three storeys with classical music – Bach feels somehow fitting – and although we have stooped to cooking (a chef can be arranged), we bask in our unlikely surroundings.
Tom cooks up coq au vin on the Aga, and we sit at opposite ends of the dining room-length table for our candlelit meal. Before retiring to our sumptuous four-poster, we finish our evening with a tipple from the drawing room’s Honesty Bar.
To clear our heads in the morning, we head out for a turn in the garden, as I imagine any self-respecting lord and lady would. Frosty grass crunches underfoot as we walk down through the neatly tiered gardens, and we relish the crisp morning air.
We wander among peaceful ponds and cherub statuettes, and feel strangely at home.
FIND OUT MORE
Stay in one of many luxurious properties all over the country. Scudamore sleeps up to 12; prices vary depending on the size of your party and the date and length of your stay.
Upton Scudamore, Wiltshire BA12 0AG
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