Do you believe in Fairy Tales?
The Pink Cottage at Weston Park is an idyllic rural country retreat, straight out of the pages of a book of fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. When I first saw the cottage, it looked as though I could have eaten it, just like the cottage in the Hansel & Gretel fairy tale, made of gingerbread, cakes, candy and window panes of clear sugar.
Weston Park is a country house in Weston-under-Lizard, Shropshire set in more than 1,000 acres (400 ha) of park landscaped by Capability Brown. The park is all that remains of the medieval deer park and forest. The House is not only home to a world class collection of art, antiques, silver and fine china, but also has a rich family history. Much of its appeal stems from the fact that Weston Park was the beloved seat of the Earls of Bradford since the 17th Century.
The Pink Cottage is situated in the secluded Temple woodland and visitors can view all kinds of wildlife and birds on their doorstep. Once the park has closed and the daytime visitors have gone off site, I was left thinking I had the whole of the park to myself. The peace & quiet surrounding the park also encourages the wildlife to venture out.
I went for a short walk to explore the nearby Roman Bridge and it was not long before I heard a snuffling noise just off the track and noticed a young badger seeking out its evening meal. Owls could also be heard in the distant trees and bats began flying around the open spaces snatching up the moths, mosquitoes and midges.
The cottage was delightful and no expense had been spared in the detail of the interior furnishings and decoration, side lamps supported by Flamingo legs, huge bulbous teardrop bulbs hanging from the ceiling, a champagne bucket next to the bathtub, an old blue oil had become a stylish lampshade, an oak leaf central light shade complete with acorn core, a cradle of logs by the open fireplace and best of all, what appeared to be a porcupine quill bedroom wall mirror. Beautiful, I could quite easily have taken it home with me!
The large white bath tub was classic in design & the shower unit with tropical douche and wand shower settings was delightful. Clean crisp lines and simple white porcelain with large, soft plump designer towels made the bathroom a cool place in which to linger. I took my first bath in years, preferring usually to take a quick shower. The large clam shell lying next to the bath tub only added to the drama! The eye for detail is stunning and I felt relaxed and at home within minutes of stepping across the threshold.
The welcome pack of fresh bread, milk, butter, marmalade, jam, biscuits and two small bottles of white wine were much appreciated after a long drive. The round cottage gave the impression of being quite small when approaching from the arched pathway, the trellis arch lit up at dusk, but the cottage is much bigger on the inside, than it appears. A real Tardis moment, when I first stepped inside and started to explore I was surprised how big and spacious it was.
The kitchen was quite large and contained everything visitors to the cottage would need, a hob, cooker, dishwasher, toaster, coffee machine, do I need to go on? It had it all for a short or long stay at the cottage, whatever the season or time of year.
The bedroom was warm, cosy and extremely comfortable, again with subtle colours designed to rest the mind and body. The curtains and their railings, wallpaper, bed covers and interior fittings complemented each other perfectly. Stepping into the bathroom at any time during the night set off a night light, so no need to wake a sleeping partner with the clicking of light switches. Some thoughtful detail!
The lounge contained a small writing desk, fronted by a large wall mirror and the large teardrop light bulbs and there was a wall of very interesting photographs depicting historical episodes in the history of the Pink Cottage and the estate owners, the Bridgeman’s.
The ceiling to floor patio doors arched around the lounge, let in a great deal of natural light and provided peaceful views out into the woodlands.
What appealed to me most about The Pink Cottage was its location, peacefully hidden away in the woodland away from passing walkers and the very rare motorised vehicle. As I said earlier, after the park is closed to day visitors, the tranquillity, peace and isolation of the Pink Cottage is unique and magical.
One morning I woke early and sat outside on the patio drinking coffee, the only sounds being those of the woodland as it started to wake. The early morning birdsong was a real delight, something I had not heard for a long, long time.
There are four other properties within the estate where guests are welcome to stay. The Knoll Tower is a romantic bolthole overlooking the estate which sleeps two and the magnificent Temple of Diana sleeps six. There’s also the quirky Gardener’s Bothy and the Potting Shed that both sleep two.
I was keen to explore the house and went on a Behind the Scenes tour of the historic House. We went upstairs and investigated some of the stunning bedrooms, peeked into the Boudoir and were given lots of fascinating information by our amusing and informative guide about the rich history of the House, the family that once lived here and how it is used today.
Treasures inside the house included; the stunning Dining Room, which houses one of the country’s most impressive collections of paintings including works by Sir Anthony van Dyck and a couple of early portraits by John Constable, the unique Gobelins Tapestries which had been specially commissioned for the House, a George Stubbs painting of two horses, the Victorian Library with a collection of over 3,000 books, the intriguing Lady Anne Newport Silver Toilet Set and a pair of coastal scenes by French landscape artist Claude Joseph Vernet.
There are also several impressive pieces of furniture by 18th century Yorkshire born furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale, which were especially commissioned for the house.
Following the tour of the house I enjoyed a delicious Classic Afternoon Tea in the stunning Victorian Orangery. We were served a selection of finger sandwiches which included cucumber & herbed cream cheese, smoked salmon & chive, Roast beef, water cress, horseradish & beetroot relish, a mini egg mayonnaise & cress roll and a Pea & Feta cheese savoury tart.
We then went on to Homemade scones with clotted cream & strawberry jam, sherry trifle shots, white chocolate and Merlyn`s mousse cup and finished with welsh cakes covered in whipped butter.
All of this was then washed down with lashings of speciality teas (Lady Grey for me) or freshly brewed coffee. No need to eat again for the rest of the day!
I ate in the restored 1767 The Granary Grill which has built up a local reputation for first class dining in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. My wife and I thought the service was outstanding and the food and drink delicious.
From the open plan kitchen, they serve up homemade classics with an imaginative twist and menus reflect the changing seasons with fresh and vibrant flavours in the spring and summer months to the warm and comforting dishes associated with autumn and winter.
The Granary Deli & Café also sports an open plan kitchen and grill, so diners can watch their food being prepared from their seats. It is the place for a Barista brewed coffee, homemade cakes and pastries, freshly made sandwiches and light lunches.
The Cafe also serves breakfast rolls, light bites, freshly brewed coffee, delicious homemade cakes and a range of deli counter goodies to eat in or take away. One evening we were short of bread and the staff in the café were able to provide me with a French stick to be baked in our oven.
Above the café I found the free Art Gallery. Built in 1767, after a sympathetic restoration the space has been restored and under an old beamed roof I was able to view a wonderful exhibition of photography, Dieter Blum – Cowboys. The First Shooting 1992
Photographs from the Daimler Art Collection. The work of German photographer Dieter Blum is presented for the first time in the UK. There were some wonderful photographs, I particularly liked the Hot Tub with four cowboys with Stetsons bathing in the tub all smoking a cigarette!
I also visited the Yew Hedge Maze where I struggled to find my way to the centre and laboured miserably to find my way out again. I really enjoyed my time at the maze despite my poor sense of direction!
Nestled in the tranquil Temple Wood the Woodland Adventure Playground is packed full of interactive equipment for children including log swings, climbing walls, slides, ground level trampolines and a large sandpit with diggers. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the time for a ride on the miniature railway, which takes visitors for a ride of over a mile around the lakes and trees of Temple Wood.
If you believe in fairies, I thought we all did, you can visit the Enchanted Glen, in the parks brand new augmented reality experience. You can uncover the hidden secrets of Temple Wood, with the help of your mobile and see new fairy friends appear right in front of your eyes, apparently! Children are encouraged to create their very own adventure with playful new characters like Larkin the Elf and Aurelia the Fairy Queen and even pose for photos with them!
I enjoyed a wonderful stay at The Pink Cottage and Weston Park over two days. The Pink Cottage is situated in a superb location amongst the woodland at Temple Wood. The Cottage looks beautiful and magical on the outside but has a classy, stylish interior, complete with all modern essentials. I would fully recommend a visit to Weston Park and a stay in the Pink Cottage or any of the other four properties on the estate.
You would be guaranteed a memorable experience.
It is a very special place which has been lovingly restored in a park which offers lots of activities, history, fauna & flora and adventures for visitors of all ages.
It is a magical place.
Tel: 01952 852100
Facebook: Weston Park
Disclosure: My stay was courtesy of Weston Park. The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.