Review: Huntsham Court, Tiverton in Devon
Words by Lara Bevan and Natasha Heard.
Nestled within the Devonshire countryside stands the Victorian manor house, known as Huntsham Court, whose closest neighbour is the local wildlife.
The exclusive use self catering venue proudly stands within 5 and a half acres of maintained grounds that come with the property and reflect the ever changing seasons of British countryside. If you are looking for a place to say ‘I do’ or merely escape the rat race of modern life with family and friends then you need look no further, as Huntsham Court can offer elegance and tranquillity all in one.
Huntsham Court was built on the Huntsham Estate of over 5000 acres back in 1868 under the guidance of Benjamin Ferrey. Benjamin Ferrey’s main architectural passion focused on churches around England during the 1800’s, but he was also commissioned to design stately homes. One such example is the Bath Hotel, which to this present day is still standing and now known as the Royal Bath. His work was described as a rare charm of simplicity that did not lack interest. Renowned works of Benjamin Ferrey are St Paul’s Cathedral and the Church of St Stephen in Westminster.
Huntsham Court was commissioned to be built due to the marriage of Charles Arthur William Troyte who the estate had passed to and his bride’s family felt that the derelict building on the estate was not fit for their Daughter. The manor was passed down through the family tree until it was sold and throughout the 1970’s it became a hotel. The current owners purchased the manor and 5 and a half acres in 2012, which had fallen into disrepair and was likely to be demolished in the near future. Since 2012 the owners have lovingly restored the manor to its previous Victorian glory and created a place awaiting memories of you and your guests.
Huntsham Court prides itself on offering a ‘home away from home’ and it does just that. The atmosphere is relaxed from the moment you drive through the gates to the moment you reluctantly head back to reality. This relaxed attitude will show prior to your arrival at Huntsham, as the manor is offered to guests as a blank canvas, therefore you organise whether you wish to have caterers or waiting staff for the duration of your stay. If you and your guests simply wish to roam the great rooms in lounge wear and cook your own meals in the fully furbished kitchen then you are able to do just that.
Quite simply the house is available to use as your own with one hire fee and no hidden extra costs. If you wish to use the property as is or cover everything up including the floors and walls like a Saudi princess did for a New Year’s Eve party – go for it! The owner’s want you to enjoy the place as you wish without the worry that you will upset them by having your event the way you want it.
If caterers or waiting staff are required to make the stay even more relaxing (after all who goes away to cook!) then the owners can recommend local companies due to their strong links with the surrounding community that have been established over the years. During a recent stay, we were able to experience these links for ourselves in the form of exquisite food by Peter Mundy and The Devon Pantry to a massage from Tam massage company after a very ‘stressful’ day of relaxing!
The Manor has 34 bedrooms that are all uniquely themed and the property itself can cater for 120 guests. From a room in a turret to the exquisite double bathed suite,vibrant wallpapers, stunning fireplace features, sweeping staircases, decorative four poster beds and chandeliers galore (between 45 and 50 throughout the house), the opulent style and original features shine through.
As explained by the owners: “We have hand picked quality fabrics and wallpapers from thousands of suppliers and collected hundreds of homely knick-knacks like clocks, books and arts and antiques which we have dotted everywhere. We want it to be enough of a blank that you can really make it your own yet with enough personality that reflects the essence of the best manor house wedding venues.”
Our rooms reflected the outdoors with decorative fabrics and colourful butterflies adorning one set of walls with pale purple and vintage drawings resting on the other room’s walls. A two seater sofa, armchair and foot stall in beige offset the colourful cushions and curtains well and dark wood furniture, decorative mirrors, large ornate fireplace and a vintage radio completed one room. Similar features were reflected in the other room with a two seater sofa and plentiful magazines offering a nice relaxation space. A large glorious comfortable bed offered up the luxury needed along with a walk in shower, and the rooms offered pleasant views of the glorious grounds.
Comfort is key throughout and it combines well with the grandeur of the house. There are five main reception rooms with period features including 500 year old Jacobean oak panelling resting on the great hall walls and a divine library with hundreds of book and cosy sofas to indulge some time in. The double height vaulted octagonal kitchen and second kitchen in the butler’s pantry are there for you to use or better yet for a hired staff to cater for you while you sit back and enjoy the occasion.
As well as the library and great hall, which houses an ornate working fireplace, there is the yellow room with a mural ceiling and great views, the tapestry diamond room – often used as the dining room and the snug bar,which resembles an old man’s club with its taxidermy, leather chairs and dark green walls mixed with contemporary artwork and lighting and a great sound system.
The gardens comprise of gravel and stone terraces, a croquet lawn, children’s play area and tennis courts as well as seasonal flower beds and 4 beehives. There are complimentary outdoor and indoor games for you to use including a boules set, table tennis, chess board, badminton, Frisbee and many board games.
For something a little more physical you can enjoy pistol shooting, archery, group dance classes, fencing, wine tasting, falconry displays, yoga and more as arranged with local outside professionals. During our stay we thoroughly enjoyed pistol shooting and archery on the lawn put on by Birds Hill Days as well as a wine tasting session from Majestic Wines – you can have or do as little or as much as you wish during your stay but the options are there should you require them.
To summarise in the words of the owners themselves : “We believe in finding the unique blend of several key ingredients to hit the perfect spot to be an exclusive use country house rental: a combination of the interior style, the approach of the team and the overall vibe of the place to work with the physical architecture and footprint of the building. We’re not your ordinary manor house rental.” They have hit the nail on the head.
Cost and how to book:
Huntsham Court costs from £8,500 for two nights’ exclusive weekday hire (on a self-catering basis) with 19 of 34 bedrooms (sleeping 44 plus six infants) available for use.
Address: Huntsham, Tiverton EX16 7NA / 01398 361277