Wellies by the door, an excitable Timmy-esque dog bouncing around and the smell of crispy bacon frying lend a sense of coming home that’s sealed by a cheerful welcome from owner Brock at York House, the new boutique B&B in Tetbury. In turns a chapel, a school and a private house, the building dates from about 1690 with additions of about 1790, and discoveries made over the years of coins, bones and-oddly-thousands of dressmaker’s pins tell of a long and varied history. Now, however, the whole is devoted to comfort, and this newest addition to Tetbury’s visitors’ scene looks set to become a firm favourite.
The drawing room
I arrived on a sunny March morning and was whisked straight into the garden to relax with coffee and the papers. The buds on the magnolia were still closed and the tree above the nodding daffodils was still bare, yet the sun soon lulled me into a sleepy contentment. A late breakfast: full English with all the trimmings-cooked using locally sourced food-revived me enough for the journey to Siddington, a few miles away near Cirencester, for the VWH point-to-point. The weather was more suited to sunbathing than horse-racing, and my luck had definitely flitted away to colder climes. Not a single horse came in for me, but a glass of cider and a cuddle with Bean, Brock’s gorgeous curly coated dog, staved off the gloom.
* Subscribe to Country Life and save over £50 a year
Back at York House, we settled down for a cup of tea on the lawn. The garden is unexpectedly huge, stretching away to a steep slope hidden by an old stone wall and a crumbling folly, which Brock intends to rebuild. A vegetable garden and greenhouse show promise of great culinary efforts to come, the well-established borders offer sweet scents and colourful fish in the pool set into the stone terrace hold Bean’s gaze for hours; in addition there are plans for a fabulous garden room.
The garden from the master suite
A luxuriously hot bath later, we crossed the road for dinner with some of the many friendly neighbours, and collapsed into bed at last with only the knowledge that the clocks were going forward to mar a glorious evening. Waking in the morning proved the hardest thing to do, as my bed, in the enormous Master Suite, is one of the most comfortable I have ever experienced.
Each room is different, with quirks such as the ancient cupboard set in the wall of the former chapel, now the Chapel Suite. It has a counterpart in the British Museum and once held the Sacrament. With impeccable taste, Brock has fitted out each of the four rooms with all the necessities: hairdryer, tea and coffee facilities, gorgeous Penhaligons toiletries, and Freeview. Inviting furniture and a great selection of reading material means those wanting to while away an hour or two with a book will be spoiled. This care extends to the public areas, with atmospheric photographs of Brock’s grandfather, winning Le Mans, hunting prints and the odd stuffed badger, the original Mr Brock.
A wander round the antique shops and bookstores of Tetbury ended above the old market hall. There, an exhibition of sporting art from Eggesford, including gems by Lionel Edwards, Snaffles and contemporary photographer Charles Sainsbury-Plaice, reminded me that Tetbury is in the heart of Beaufort country. This was later confirmed when, walking Bean in the golden light of early evening (British Summertime has its advantages), the presence of neatly built walls and trimmed hedges was as inviting a hunting landscape as a rider could wish for. The fields of the Duchy Home Farm were neatly marked with different vegetable varieties but, sadly, we were passing too late for the Veg Shed, where aficionados can buy the highest quality accompaniment for the Sunday roast.
Leaving the comforts of York House was almost impossible, but with so many things to do in the area -Westonbirt Arboretum, Badminton, Beaufort Polo Club, birds at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and endless decent pubs – it will be easy to find an excuse to come back.
York House, 8, Silver Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire (01666 504508; www.yorkhousetetbury.com). Prices start at £70 for one night, mid week
* Follow us on Twitter