Reviews

PRESS REVIEWS

OWLPEN MANOR continues to receive widespread coverage in the international press, guide books and topographical literature, from Japan and South Korea to Sweden -- and of course the United States of America. We reprint below some of the more recent articles to give a flavour of what the books and papers are saying about this special Cotswold estate -- manor house, holiday cottages and restaurant.

"The beauty of the Owlpen estate defies words"
Known as one of Prince Charles's favourite places in England, the beauty of the Owlpen estate defies words.  Its so hidden you cannot even see it from Uley Bury, despite the "whole" of the Ewelme valley being laid out before you.  The Tudor manor house is an architectural gem that was left untouch for centuries until sympathetic restoration began in the early 20th century during the Arts and Crafts Movement.  

The house is open for tour groups by prior arangement. The gardens, however, are open, and, like the house, have received acclaim from many of Britain's greatest garden designers Vita Sackville-West and Gertrude Jekyll.  Of historical importance, it's the most complete surviving garden of the Stuart period open to the public, containing seven formal hanging terraces together with further additions made by the present owners along 'old English' traditions.  Box parterres, imaculately clipped hedges and moss-lined stone walls frame borders rich with colour.  Visitors can wander through the idyllic estate-owned village and peaceful valley too, with miles of walks through the surrounding bech woods.  

 

fodorsGreat Britain Guide

Owlpen Manor: The Most Beautiful Place in the Cotswolds?

Some magical spots capture -- like the phenomenon of experiencing the ocean in a single drop of water -- the essence of an entire world. Owlpen Manor seems to concentrate all there is to know about rural England into one enchanting package. Tucked away in the Cotswold hills, it was long known only to a select few. "Owlpen in Gloucestershire -- Ah, what a dream is there!" rhapsodized Vita Sackville-West in 1941. Some decades later, Prince Charles, who ought to know -- his Highgrove manor is just a few miles away -- called it "the epitome of the English village." The secret was out.

Fairy-Tale Hamlet

This fairy-tale Cotswold hamlet centers around a picturesque church, a Tudor manor house, and cottages, all set against an equally picturesque mountainside. The seignorial bearing of the manor house is softened by a graceful grouping of pearl-gray stone cottages, tithe barns, garden buildings, and grist mills.

What makes the village (population: 35) the Cotswolds' Shangri-la is that it has remained uniquely unspoiled by the modern world, and for this its guardian mountain must be thanked. Owlpen not only lies deep in archetypal English countryside but deep in history as well; it was first settled in Saxon days as Olla's Pen (meaning valley).

The triple-gabled stone manor house was built between 1450 and 1720, its south elevation asymmetrical, yet "illogically satisfactory" in its appeal, according to the noted architectural historian James Lees-Milne. The house's medieval embrasures and 17th-century gables were restored decades ago by local Arts and Crafts-period artisans, who also created some of the furnishings found within.

Treasures Inside and Out

Inside are oak chests fashioned by William Morris, family portraits, Georgian doorcases, unique painted cloths from the Tudor and Stuart eras, and Queen Margaret's Room, said to be haunted by the spirit of Queen Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI, who visited here during the War of the Roses. The garden is hardly changed from the days of Queen Anne; its great yew "ballroom" was the everlasting envy of gardening greats, such as the renowned Gertrude Jekyll.

Today, the house and garden are open to the public from April until mid-October, daily except Monday (unless it's a national-holiday Monday), 2-5. The restaurant is open from noon. Admission charges are £4.50 for the house and grounds, or £2.50 for the grounds only.

Why Not Just Move In? - At Least Temporarily

But -- gasp, pause, imagine -- all this can be your very own home-away-from-home. Several of Owlpen's cottages have been converted into luxurious guest accommodations, including a studio flat in the Tithe Barn; Summerfield Cottage, overlooking a murmuring brook; a gorgeous Cotswold-stone farmhouse nestled deep in the woods; and a dollhouse-size Stuart-era garden building (prices start at £80 for a weekend break per person, while a week in a larger accommodation ranges from £215 to £780 for a double room).

Nicholas Mander -- descendant of Sir Geoffrey and Lady Mander, the noted Pre-Raphaelite art patrons -- and his delightful family oversee this tiny kingdom, with Karin Mander in charge of the Cyder Press restaurant.

A storybook village, a sequestered forest -- with a story or two to tell -- and meadows full of getaway space and privacy spread throughout: These three elements come together unforgettably at Owlpen Manor to form the ultimate Cotswold hamlet. Picturesque in its timelessness and singularly romantic, Owlpen Manor could well rank as the loveliest place in England.

Directions and Contact Info

To get to Owlpen Manor from Painswick, head south on A415 to Stroud, then head west on A419. Turn south on B4066 to Uley and the Owlpen Manor signpost. Owlpen Manor is near Dursley.

Owlpen Manor Phone: 01453/860261. Fax: 01453/860-819.
 

frommer
Frommer’s England

 

Owlpen Manor: A Journey to Brigadoon

As beautiful as Painswick is, there is a place even more lovely. It's the hamlet of Owlpen Manor near Dursley, lying immediately to the south of Painswick, off the beaten track. "Owlpen in Gloucestershire" has been called the British version of Brigadoon, an English Shangri-la. Vita Sackville-West in 1941 rhapsodized, "Ah, what a dream is there." Even Prince Charles, who lives nearby at Highgrove, called it "the epitome of an English village," with its population of 35 lucky souls.

The hamlet centers on a medieval church, an Elizabethan manor, and a collection of stone-built cottages. In the center, you can stroll through the gardens of the triple-gabled manor, constructed between 1450 and 1720. You can visit daily from April through October from 2 to 5pm, paying £5 ($8.50) to see the antique-filled house or else just £4 ($6.80) to stroll through the beautifully kept grounds. There's also a restaurant on site, Cyder Press, serving typically English food.

Insider's Tip: You can actually rent one of these cottages if you fall in love with the Cotswolds and want to hang out for a while. Several have been luxuriously converted into guest accommodations, including a studio in the old Tithe Barn or else our favorite, "Summerfield Cottage," opening onto a murmuring brook--it's a cliché picture postcard of the Cotswolds. Weekly rentals range from £225 to £800 ($382.50 to $1,360), although you can sometimes slip in for a 2-day break costing £85 ($144.50) for two persons.

This fairy-tale hamlet is overseen by Nicholas Ma[n]der, a descendant of Sir Geoffrey and Lady Mander, fabled Pre-Raphaelite art patrons. For information about visits to the manor and its grounds, the village itself, or cottage rentals, call tel. 01453/860261. From Painswick, go south on A45--signposted Stroud--until you come to the junction on A419. At that point, turn south on B4066 in the direction of Uley and follow the signposts to Owlpen Manor.

Copyright © 2001 Hungry Minds, Inc.Source: Frommer's England 2004
 

conference

Country Retreats: Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire

Contact: 01453 860 261

Kraft Foods, Bristol & West and B&Q have all frequented this Cotswolds manor and its quirky period cottages. Set in a remote valley near Dursley in Gloucestershire, the venue is dominated by the Grade I-listed Manor House with its Great Hall. Meetings for up to 16 can take place here and break-out sessions can be held either in the adjoining room or in the 16th-century gardens.

The nine cottages vary in size and style and include the chintzy Woodwells, a [lime]stone farmhouse. This and the Grist Mill are ideal for meetings. Small groups can hold brainstorming sessions within the dining rooms before sitting down to a meal with ingredients from the estate’s livestock and produce. Up to 40 can eat in the 15th-century Cyder House restaurant.

However, it is the incentive activities that draw most groups to this retreat. Delegates can arrive in style in chauffeur-driven vintage cars and then explore the countryside for themselves on quad bikes or try their hands at archery, shooting, combat games, clay-pigeon shooting and gliding. Change 2, a leadership development business, took B&Q and Alberto Culver, known for its VO5 and Tresemmé haircare ranges, to the property. Development director Jonathan Harris says: "Owlpen Manor really is a venue with a difference because of its location and its unusual rooms. It gets delegates in a different frame of mind."

11 August 2005
 

heritage trail

Heritage Trail to Owlpen Manor

This charming little Tudor house is the essence of romanticism and evocativeness. Snuggled well into a densely wooded valley under the edge of the Cotswolds, Owlpen Manor is an unexpected treasure that has somehow managed to remain encapsulated in its own peaceful and secluded time warp. When development of the present house first started over 500 years ago, the de Olepenne family had been settled in the manor since Saxon times. As landowners and ecclesiastical benefactors, the medieval family was well-respected locally and reasonably secure, suggesting that an earlier dwelling house had existed on the site.

When the male line ended in 1464, Owlpen passed into the Daunt family following the marriage between Margery de Olepenne and John Daunt. It was the next two generations who were largely responsible for the building of the manor house, extending and remodelling the core as their wealth increased from Irish land owning interests. Now firmly established in Ireland, the Daunts were using Owlpen Manor purely as a mainland base and by the early 1600s the Cotswold house was suffering from neglect. Enjoying a brief respite from the spreading decay, Owlpen was extensively restored and modernised during the time of the last family members to live in the house.

Detailed accounts exist of the works undertaken by Thomas Daunt in the early 18th century, and remarkably little has altered since his time. During the 1840s a grand Georgian mansion was built at the far end of estate for the Stoughton family, who had recently acquired Owlpen through marriage, but considered the old manor house far too outdated and uncomfortable to fit in with their lifestyle.

Devastated by the collapse of the cloth industry, the population of Owlpen declined, and the abandoned estate gradually fell into dilapidation until popular interest in antiquated properties became fashionable early in the 20th century. Already touched by the evolving Arts and Crafts movement, the Cotswolds was home to many followers of the late William Morris. Inspired by the prospect of improving Owlpen Manor in this tradition, Norman Jewson bought part of the estate in 1925 and spent the next year reviving, preserving and repairing this wonderful, but tired, old property. Sold by Jewson on completion of his works, Owlpen once again became a lively family home where hospitality was the order of the day, especially to the literary world and, in particular, to the many members of the Bloomsbury group.

Today owned and lived in by the Mander family, themselves patrons of the arts, Owlpen Manor has come full circle and is again part of a thriving estate, with the old grist mill, court house and weavers' cottages all contributing in very different roles to the estate's revenue. The delight of discovering this ancient little gem in its idyllic setting is only the beginning of the magical experience. A house with a history divided between abandoned neglect and astoundingly sympathetic restoration, a home full of family treasures happily co-existing with the later Arts and Crafts influence, and a grand old manor that has received many distinguished visitors, three of whom insist on maintaining spiritual contact. An elegant lady, dressed in a fur-trimmed gown and wimple has been seen walking in the Great Chamber on a number of occasions, and is thought to be Queen Margaret of Anjou who first visited Owlpen in 1471.

© Copyright 1998-2005 Heritage Trail Publications Ltd.

rural england

Owlpen Manor Cottages & Restaurant

Set in a remote and picturesque wooded valley Owlpen Manor Cottages and Restaurant offer self-catering accommodation in charming period cottages and in idyllic surroundings. Owlpen Manor itself is a romantic Tudor manor house built between 1450 and 1616, and notable for its family and Cotswold Arts and Crafts collections as well as its unique painted cloth wall hangings. Outside, on seven hanging terraces, are formal gardens of the 16th and 17th centuries with topiary yews, box parterres, old fashioned roses and mill pond. The old Cyder House provides an atmospheric setting for a licensed restaurant serving home-cooked lunches, traditional cream teas and gourmet dinners. It is also available for private parties.

"Some of the best cottages available in Britain today" was the Guardian's opinion of Owlpen Manor Cottages. There are nine of them in all, including Grist Mill, built in 1726, and Court House, dating back to 1620. Furnished with antiques and four-poster beds, the cottages can accommodate from two up to nine people and are available throughout the year. Nightly rates are available but a minimum of four nights is required during the high season. Between October and March, weekend breaks are offered, comprising two nights bed & breakfast, three-course dinner on Saturday evening and a late departure of 6pm on Sunday.

travel head
The Sunday Times

Family harmony in a cottage complex:
OWLPEN MANOR Gloucestershire

Don’t call it a complex. This is more of a hamlet — dating back to Stuart times — nestling in its own hidden valley, with a church, a manor house and various cottages, some of them tucked away in the woods. There are eight cottages altogether, sleeping six to eight, all well furnished in traditional style. Many have four-poster beds, and all are a cut above the average.

Ideal for: those who want to escape to a less frenetic time. Cottages are widely spaced, so, even if there is a group of you, privacy is assured.  On offer: “Great walks, fine views and tranquillity”, as one renter put it.

Eating out: go for The Cyder House restaurant, the on-site dining room — rates include one meal there. Expect local venison and pheasant in season.

Dogs? Yes, in certain cottages only, for £4.50 per night.

How much? Summerfield, a cottage for two by the farm, is £295-£495 per week; Grist Mill, which sits on the millpond, sleeps eight and costs £520- £895 for double occupancy, with each extra person paying £40 per week. Two-night weekend breaks start at £260.

Contact: 01453 860816, www.owlpen.com.

February 29, 2004

Gay Times

THE OWLPEN

A medieval rural retreat with bags of atmosphere may help banish those big city blues.

Deep in the heart of the Cotswold’s lies a peaceful and serene valley which plays home to The Owlpen Manor, a late medieval estate made up of the Manor House and assorted buildings, like The Court House and Grist Mill. The current owners Nicholas and Karin Mander have spent 32 years restoring the estate to provide luxurious guest accommodation in a variety of buildings; a labour of love that shows in the curious furnishings and antiques collected from around the world - and that clutter many a corner!

The largest of the properties is the Grist Mill, an early 18th Century watermill that lies hidden at the bottom of the valley. Full of charm and with many original features still in place - shutes, hursts, beams, bolting and cleaning equipment, and an enormous mill outside - it is furnished in an antique cottage style and can sleep up to eight people, including two in a colossal oak four-poster bed. By contrast the smallest cottage – The Tithe Barn - is a split level studio apartment, built into the last bay of the Owlpen’s listed barn that can sleep just two people. But they’ll be two people who will relish the outstanding views back across the gardens to the Manor House. However, of all the Holiday Cottages, the most popular is The Court House, a charming Grade 1 listed Stuart garden building dating from around 1620 that has been cleverly converted to provide accommodation for between two and five people.

Nevertheless it’s the Manor House that still lies at the heart of the estate and has been home to the Manders and their five children for many years. What a wonderful place it must have been to grow up in! It even comes complete with ghosts and has featured on TV’s Most Haunted. Another grade 1 listed building, it is worth a visit just for the chance to amble through the remarkable interiors, which have been enhanced with some rare Cotswold arts and crafts furniture, as well as the family’s own historic collections. If you’re lucky you might even see one of those ghosts – or two.

In case you hadn’t worked it out, this is not your typical holiday cottage complex. There is no ugly new outhouses or children’s playgrounds tacked on. And not a whiff of a Dorothy L Sayers paperback stuffed behind the commode. It’s as though time has stood still and the feelings of peace and tranquillity that descend upon you on arrival help banish the excesses of 21st Century life to a place far, far away - especially as you will be lucky to get any mobile reception down in the valley!

Cottage guests are welcome to stroll around the grounds, which include one of the oldest domestic gardens to survive practically untouched. But, perhaps the most wonderful part of this estate is the on-site restaurant situated in the beautiful Cyder House. Restaurant times vary, with lunch and afternoon tea available on days when the house is open to the public, and dinner available on either Friday or Saturday nights. But when it is open the varied bistro-style menu utilises fresh produce from the estate wherever possible.

Karin Mander is an accomplished chef and personally oversees the restaurant. Her passion for food has been inspired by her frequent travels abroad and time spent living and working in the Mediterranean and sample specialities include Venison and Grouse (from the estate) as well as Owlpen Beefsteak and Guinness Pie. There is also a menu of freshly prepared dishes which can be pre-ordered and left in your cottage to be heated up on arrival. It’s a special welcome when you arrive late after a stressful drive and find a meal literally waiting for you, though if your tendencies run to more basic provisions these can also be pre ordered. Wine lovers, meanwhile, will find the wine list great value. Big city prices are left behind along with the big city stress.

The Owlpen has already hosted many gay parties, including a weekend visit from the Gay Classic Car Club and is definitely gay-friendly. Not that that should come as a surprise. It’s a superb spot to celebrate a birthday or Gay Wedding, and can sleep up to 39 people across the various cottages with exclusive use, should you require, and catering provided on request.

If you do manage to drag yourself away from the cottage there are many place of local interest scattered around the beautiful valley. The historic cities of Bath, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Gloucester are all approximately 20 miles away, with their wealth of cultural attractions, while heritage fiends can explore the area’s historic houses, including Berkeley Castle, Chavenage House, Dyrham Park and Sudeley Castle. Particular places of interest to visit include the American Museum at Claverton Manor, the Roman Baths at Bath, the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and the many gardens, including Barnsley House, Hodges Barn, Miserden Park and Prince Charles’s Highgrove - even if you can get in! For amblers there are lots of scenic walks, though if you don’t want to go too far, there are several lightweight rambles round the Owlpen Estate itself, with detailed maps provided in all the cottages.

Essentials

Doesn’t all this luxury and charm cost a royal wage? Not at all. Prices vary according to season, but start as low as £310 for two people in the Tithe Barn for a week in early 2006, rising to £435 in peak summer months. Eight People in the Grist Mill in low season costs £830, rising to £1450 in the peak summer months. A three course dinner, meanwhile, costs £24.95 in the Cyder House. Bookings can be made on the website at www.owlpen.com or by calling 01453 860261. It’s one call you won’t regret making.

Tony Pithers

October 2005   © 2006 Millivres Prowler Limited

the guardian  The Guardian

Cots in the Cotswolds

Deep in the heart of honey-stone country, Owlpen Manor oozes charm and history - and best of all, it has sheep, ducks and hooting owls

We did not arrive in the best of moods: parents exhausted from work and traffic; 18-month-old Alexander fractious (and reeking) after a vomiting incident on the Malmesbury bypass. But in the glow of a sunny evening, Owlpen Manor was a soothing prospect. It was an idyllic scene - a wooded valley with a babbling stream, a Tudor manor house and church surrounded by a sprinkling of cottages in mellow honey-coloured stone. It could be a set designer's dream of the perfect Cotswold hamlet, and in a sense, it is; the manor was rescued by arts-and-crafts architect Norman Jewson in 1916, and the remainder of the buildings have been restored or added by the current owners, the Mander family, over the past 30 years.

Our home for the weekend was the Court House, a converted 17th-century banqueting house - a favourite of the late Robin Cook, apparently, who came here to write his speeches. Though not quite child-friendly enough for anxious metropolitan parents (spiral staircases and toddlers do not happily coexist), the house oozed history and Alexander was fascinated by the hooting of owls outside. The rooms were tiny but cosy, and the low-ceilinged attic bedrooms would appeal to older children.

There are nine cottages, sleeping from two to 10. The finest are in historic listed buildings. A couple are modern and rather characterless, but probably more practical for families with very young children. There is a restaurant, The Cyder House, located in a 15th-century barn, with ancient cruck trusses and a gigantic oak cider press in one corner. It is only open for lunch and teas in the summer, plus one evening a week, but prepared dishes can be ordered in advance.

owlpen vert

With our son safely asleep (a cot and highchair were provided), we sat down to enjoy steak-and-ale pie made with organic Owlpen beef. Later, we stepped out to the churchyard a few yards from our door to watch an enormous full moon rise silently above the yews. The valley is notably free of light and noise pollution.

The following morning, we explored the estate. There are miles of walks through beech woods, perfect picnic spots in abundance, and a wonderful sense of seclusion which makes the 21st century seem very remote, though Alexander was more interested in the resident cows, sheep and ducks.Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire (01453 860261 owlpen.com). From £60 per night/£250 a week. Min stay: two nights low/mid season, four nights high. Week- end breaks (two nights) inc B&B and one dinner from £250 for two (Oct-April).

Mark Porter
Saturday November 19, 2005

 

Chic Rural Retreats

Maid? Gourmet meals? Rhiannon Batten uncovers UK cottages with all the trimmings

Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire

A cluster of medieval buildings set around a Tudor manor, Owlpen is your quintessential rural English retreat. It is run along the lines of a country-house hotel. Nine of the properties have been converted into upmarket guest cottages and the estate's former cider house has been pressed into service as a restaurant. Thanks to a concierge-like reception facility, you can order home-cooked gourmet meals delivered to the door, arrange car service, book airport transfers, have flowers sent over or a tea tray waiting when you arrive. Still not enough to tempt you? Breakfast hampers, laundry, babysitting and maid service can also be arranged.

Owlpen Manor, near Uley, Gloucestershire (01453 860261; www.owlpen.com).
Four nights' rental of a two-person cottage starts at £185.

Rhiannon Batten

3 June 2006    © The Independent, 2006
 

OWLPEN MANOR, Near ULEY,
GLOUCESTERSHIRE GL11 5BZ

Telephone: +44-(0)1453860261        
email: sales@owlpen.com