Guests get their first glimpse of the Billesley Manor Hotel as they approach this impressive 16th century Elizabethan Manor house down a long sweeping driveway. I visited the Manor last October last October. Since that time there has been a major refurbishment of the Hotel, bedrooms, Spa & grounds. I shall look forward to returning some time soon in the future!
Set in amongst eleven acres of mature trees and beautifully manicured Warwickshire lawns, I first noticed a small pond with an impressive fountain next to some tennis courts, which despite being early October were being used.
To the left of the façade of the main house was a spectacular ornate topiary garden, which I was told, was planted one hundred years ago to replicate a chess board and its pieces. I couldn’t quite make out each of the chess pieces. but it was impressive nevertheless.
It could be said that you are walking in the footsteps of William Shakespeare at Billesley Manor because in 1582 he married Anne Hathaway at the 11th century church of All Saints, which is inside the Manor grounds just behind the recently refurbished barn conversions called the Cedar Barns.
‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’As You Like It (Act 2, Scene 7).
Seventeen years after marrying Anne, our nations greatest ever poet & playwright wrote his 20th play, the comedy `As You Like It` whilst visiting the library of the old house. It is also rumoured that William Shakespeare was a regular visitor, to the churchyard that predates the present tiny All Saints church.
It is England’s national poet, the “Bard of Avon” that draws in the annual 3 million tourists a year to this part of Warwickshire and Billesley Manor is the ideal base for exploring the many other places associated with the Bard, including nearby Anne Hathaway`s Cottage, Mary Arden`s Farm and of course Shakespeare`s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is just nine miles away.
In this beautiful Warwickshire market town, you can visit the great man`s birthplace, the church in which he is buried or take part in a lesson in the actual school he attended. Before arriving at the Manor I stopped off briefly at Anne Hathaway`s Cottage in nearby Shottery, only three miles away, for what was a very interesting introduction to the Bards early married life.
The stunning Manor House at Billesley has a very long history, having been listed in the Domesday Book in 1086. For four hundred years the estate was a private home, in the name of the Trussel family.
The present building dates from around 1610 – 1620 and is listed as a grade II* building. Billesley is a very good example of a 17th century manor house retaining many internal features of interest including some fine interior woodwork.
Folklore has it that a servant to the family was responsible for bringing the ‘Black Death‘ from London to the village on a coat he had stolen, wiping out most of the villages population of 150 villagers. At one time there were said to be many secret staircases and corridors in the Manor House but only one remains today in one of the Four Poster bedrooms, leading to a hidden priest hole above the fireplace.
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.As You Like It (Rosalind, Act 1 Scene 3)
On arrival I received a very warm welcome from the reception staff, who were very helpful and friendly as I checked into the Hotel. I thought the collection of various umbrellas and wellington boots available for the use of guests just inside the main door was a nice touch.
The Manor has seventy two bedrooms including four-poster feature rooms furnished with antique pieces and Tudor panelling in the original Manor House and more contemporary bedrooms in the restored Cedar Barns, which is where I would be staying. The Cedar Barns are just a short walk from the original manor house, restaurant and spa facilities.
All of the bedrooms have flat-screen televisions, free high-speed WiFi, and 24-hour room service.
My beautifully refurbished De-luxe Barn bedroom was large with a huge Super King Size bed and wonderful views across the landscaped lawns to the fountain. Each room has been individually designed and are thus unique, the décor is rich and stylish with several pieces of tasteful furniture.
My room also included a much appreciated small seating area with two upright comfortable armchairs, the obligatory tea and coffee making facilities plus a beautiful modern and stylish en-suite bathroom. There were also plenty of essential plug sockets for phones & laptops placed around the room.
I would consider the refurbishment to have been a real success if all of the rooms were as stylish and comfortable as the one I stayed in. The Cedar Barns were also very quiet providing an ideal restful sleep. I was told that all of the bedrooms at the Manor are being refurbished to the same high standard.
We enjoyed a pre – dinner drink in the wonderful oak panelled Bar with a huge Inglenook fireplace before going into the Stuart Restaurant for our evening meal. I enjoyed a bottle of local Purity Brewing Pure Ubu Amber Ale. It was delicious, a beer with real character and an even better taste in my mouth.
Both the Stuart Restaurant & Great Hall are impressive rooms in which to enjoy first-class dining. All around us were original 16th century oak panelling, large stone period fireplaces, historic oil paintings and grand chandeliers. It was a simply beautiful space in which to sit and watch the sun set over the lawns outside.
Soup of the Day: Roasted Vegetable
Prawn & Smoked Salmon Tian
Chicken with Pan – fried Wild Mushroom Ristto Cake, Wilted Spinach, Black Carrots & Truffle Jus
Pork Belly with Creamed Potatoes, Kale & Red Wine Jus
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Chocolate Torte with Salted Honey Popcorn, Feuilletine & Vanilla Ice Cream
Serbal – Malbec 2018 – Bodega Atamisque – Mendoza – Argentina
Colour: Red Aroma: Violets & Red Fruits Mouth: Concentrated & Silky
The chef and his kitchen team try to source as much of their produce from local providers and the service was excellent. Attentive and knowledgeable but never invasive. All of the food was freshly cooked to order with a strong emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible.
The restaurant & hotel staff were efficient and polite and nothing was too much trouble for them, which was really appreciated. All of the staff I met were very professional and delivered very high quality service throughout my stay.
All resident guests have free use of the extensive leisure facilities which includes a health suite, a modern gym, sauna, steam room, a large indoor swimming pool complete with steam/sauna room and of course, the tennis courts which I had spotted on my arrival. There is also a restored Yoga Hut, which has recently had a new thatched roof added, replacing the previous forty year old roof which was in need of repair.
I didn’t make us of the Spa but it has everything you would need to relax and unwind with an extensive selection of Decléor treatments from holistic massages to prescription facials and four professional treatment rooms.
The buffet style breakfast was well worth getting up for with a wide selection of cereal, fresh fruit, various conserves, pain au chocolate, toasts and smoked salmon as well as the traditional full English cooked breakfast items such as sausages, bacon and eggs. There was also lashings of hot tea & coffee, all I had to do was ask!
If like Shakespeare you would also like to get married at Billesley Manor, you can do so! What could be more romantic than tying the knot in the same location as it is believed William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway? The unique 16th century backdrop and beautiful landscaped gardens and topiary gardens offers the perfect setting for a wedding and those much treasured photographs.
The Manor is licensed to conduct ceremonies in several unique rooms and your wedding is guaranteed to be the only one taking place on your special day. The Manors team of wedding planners will plan every moment of your wedding including the ceremony and reception, the welcome Champagne bubbles right down to the selection of menus and silverware. The Wedding facilities cater for up to 80 guests.
For business meetings & conferences there are also twelve dedicated meeting rooms, with a capacity for up to 100 delegates.
I really enjoyed my stay at the historic Manor House, our room in the Cedar Barns was comfortable, spacious and clean, with everything we needed for a weekend break. The food was very special, a wide ranging menu of top quality dishes, beautifully cooked and professionally presented to table.
By continuing to provide good quality food and drink combined with the warm, friendly hospitality of the waiting staff, this historic Billesley Manor House Hotel is sure to win many awards for its food, rooms and hospitality over the next couple of years.
It certainly comes highly recommended from me!
Why not visit Billesley Manor Hotel for that special occasion?
You won’t regret it!
01789 279 955
Disclosure: My visit to Billesley Manor was courtesy of the management. The views and comments expressed, are as usual my own.