Even arriving in darkness in the evening, you know there’s something very special about Lewtrenchard Manor. Maybe it’s the tinkle of the fountain or the glow of light coming from the leaded windows, or the quietness. It may also be the sense of history, which is apparent as soon as you step through the front door. The dark wood panelled hall with family portraits lining the walls, and a stunning stone fireplace with a carved wooden surround, set the scene.
The house has a rich history dating way back, and since the 1620s has been owned by the Baring-Gould family, its most famous member being Sabine Baring-Gould – vicar, novelist, archaeologist and the man who famously wrote the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers. Packed with antiques, there’s something to investigate in every room. Many of the items belonged to Sabine himself and the library even has some of his childhood story books.
General manager Duncan Murray first came to live at Lewtrenchard with his parents as a child and it’s clear the Murrays care deeply about the house. This attachment is demonstrated in the way they’ve refurbished the rooms. Each bedroom is different: some are traditional (one has the four poster bed which Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, slept in); some are more modern, and all are beautifully furnished and decorated with gorgeous fabrics, comfy beds and spotless contemporary bathrooms.
The house is surrounded by landscaped gardens, including a working kitchen garden which is heavily utilised by head chef Matthew Peryer and his team in the three AA rosette restaurant. Matthew’s food is genuinely seasonal and packed with flavour. You can watch him and his team at work, either from the unusual Purple Carrot private chef’s table, or you can peek through the kitchen window from the courtyard.
The grounds and the proximity to Dartmoor make this a great spot for outdoor adventuring, but it’s a safe bet you’d feel happy enough just to potter around Lewtrenchard’s cosy old rooms and explore this warm, friendly home. Stepping outside in the morning light, the house is revealed in all its Jacobean splendour – it’s a sight you’ll want to return to.
Review published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Food Magazine.
Lewtrenchard Manor, Lewdown, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 4PN