Well what a summer we’re having! The skies are blue, the birds are singing and the evenings warm and mellow. It’s a picture postcard scene for us down here in Devon, and we thought we’d share 3 of our favourite country homes to visit this summer. Country estates have everything you could want out of a day out – history, art, nature, culture and more, and as Devon has only a very small stretch of motorway, you can guarantee the drive will be pretty memorable too.
Compton Castle, Compton
Located 3 miles from Torbay, this romantic fortified manor house was built back in the mid 14th century, and has been owned by the Gilbert family since Tudor times, beginning with Sir Walter Raleigh’s half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Nestled down quiet country lanes in the depths of Devon, Compton Castle is nothing short of magical. Its portcullis entrance, towers and look outs are steeped in medieval history, where soldiers poured boiling oil down onto marauding pirates. With a backdrop of rolling hills and ancient forests, nothing beats a quiet stroll through the medieval knot garden, followed by a picnic lunch surrounded by fragrant roses in the garden. Every year in August, Compton Castle holds a Wild Tea Party, where families and friends explore the old herb garden and make a variety of fascinating and tasty teas. Did we mention it was also the setting for the 1995 version of Sense & Sensibility?
Knighthayes CourtThis magnificent Victorian country house is a superb example of the Gothic revival period, with an impressively decorated exterior dripping in ivy and climbing plants. The garden is renowned as one of the finest in Devon, winning the Royal Horticultural Society’s Victorian Medal of Honour, coming alive with flowers and birds in the spring and summer. If that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for the great outdoors, Knighthayes also has an enchanting woodland and expansive parkland to stretch your legs and explore the landscape of Devon. Inside, Knighthayes has incredibly lavish and highly decorated rooms, including carvings of medieval life and the seven deadly sins. You might need more than one day to explore this treasure trove of history and nature.
One of England’s oldest family homes, Powderham holds within its walls over 600 years of history. Set in a magnificent deer park and with over 3500 acres of land, Powderham oozes with intrigue and stories of old. Wander through the rooms and marvel at the majestic medieval staircase or the 18th century music room. If the sun is still shining, stretch your legs and potter around the Walled Garden, where exotic herbs and flowers from around the world were planted and sold. The Woodland Garden is particularly breathtaking, enfolding you in its lush and leafy interior. Deer have been kept here since the 1700s, and you can get the chance to get closer to these elegant creatures on deer safaris – perfect for keeping little one’s entertained.
We hope this has given you some ideas if you’re down in Devon this summer. And if you find yourself passing a little place called Lifton, be sure to pop your head in to The Arundell Arms and say hi!