Dewsall Court in Herefordshire is a country house for hire that offers a wonderful escape from hectic city life. Country Life's Emma McCall paid a visit.
The saying goes that the kitchen is the heart of the home and this couldn’t be more fitting with Dewsall Court in Herefordshire. Upon arrival at this impressive yet charming country haven, you feel as if you’re dropping in to see a friend for the weekend. Finding the Aga purring and homemade ‘help yourself’ biscuits waiting for us, we wondered if, perhaps, we had made a wrong turn and stumbled into the neighbouring Duchy farm by accident.
But no, this is the character and allure of Dewsall Court, a family owned sandstone manor house (dating back to 1644) in this secluded pocket of British countryside that you can really make your own.
Overlooking the Black Mountains and nestled in rolling farmland, Dewsall Court is six miles south of Hereford, making it accessible from London, but far enough to escape from it all. The venue offers guests exclusive use of the house and grounds for weekends or longer stays to enjoy any occasion such as weddings, private parties and business functions – or just a chance for a getaway surrounded by rich farmland.
You can instantly tell that this home was lived in and loved by the Robinson family, who have renovated the house and grounds in the past 20 years to make it into the luxurious retreat it is today. There is a combination of family entertaining – note the billiards room, with stacks of Punch editions and quirky taxidermy – elegant taste in the interiors. There are eight bedrooms in the main house and two more in the Cottage Barn within the grounds – if you get the chance, though, be sure to stay in the spacious Dewsall Suite, with an emperor bed and a deep freestanding bath, and to dine in the magnificent Chinoiserie.
As well as exclusive hire, the Dewsall team hosts ‘supper clubs’ and other gastro events that bring notable top chefs to its doors. We were lucky enough to join a party of 20 for dinner, kicked off by Chase cocktails (the local and award-winning distillery down the road) and Pol Roger Champagne and wines – the UK offices of which are also based in Hereford – and followed by a locally sourced, sumptuous three-course meal hosted by owner Samantha Vaughan and her mother Jane. With the family and staff being such engaging hosts and glasses brimming for the duration of the night, it really did feel as if we were at the dinner party of life-long friends – albeit ones that happened to have Michelin-star chefs in the kitchen.
It’s clear to see why so many past guests return to enjoy evenings such as this – it’s akin to becoming part of a family or a club. This echoes the partnership Dewsall has with Canvas and Stone; a collection of five family-owned homes across the UK that have opened their doors to provide stylish countryside venues for exclusive hire. This novel concept has provided a fresh perspective on the diversification of family owned country houses – something Dewsall is also pursuing with its ‘Where the wild things rave’ summer event.
The other main attraction of Dewsall is its outdoor beauty: with 12 acres of orchards, a lake, manicured and wild gardens, you can see why it’s a sought-after wedding venue. Located past the pretty orchards is an idyllic church, now with the addition of the Wainhouse barn, a recent conversion that can take up to 140 guests for banqueting receptions and parties. It’s a lovely option for brides looking for a home feel or an eccentric wedding, rather than a standard conveyor-belt event. The professional team here is open to any request, be it a festival-themed wedding, pampering weekends or a lavish dinner parties, nothing seems impossible.
Simply put, Dewsall is the perfect escape for those who love the countryside, but enjoy a touch of quirkiness and something quite unlike routine corporate hospitality.
Dewsall Court, Callow, Hereford, HR2 8DA. The house sleeps up to 27 – with 23 in the main house and four in the Cottage Barn – with prices from £3,950 for exclusive weekends. Wedding packages start from £6,400. More details via 01432 355 058 or at www.dewsall.com.