Kirsty Nelms headed to Shropshire to explore the newly renovated Hawkstone Hall & Gardens
For the first time in its 550-year history, Hawkstone Hall & Gardens has been transformed into a luxurious hotel.
The Grade I listed 18th Century mansion in Weston, near Shrewsbury, was originally built as a stately family home and now provides guests with a taste of the luxuries once reserved only for British aristocracy.
LIVING jumped at the chance to review our stay in this spectacular Georgian property, which has been sympathetically restored to its former splendour following two years of painstaking renovations.
The 37-bedroom mansion is nestled in the beautiful Shropshire countryside and is accessed by a winding county lane alongside a golf course. You pass through a tunnel carved into a rockface, turn the corner and then the breathtaking view hits you. From the moment we pulled up onto the gravelled driveway, we were treated to a real Downton Abbey experience as a butler arrived to collect our luggage and show us to our classic twin room.
We’d booked for afternoon tea and enjoyed a fine dining experience in The Saloon, a high-ceilinged room with gilded walls which would not look out of place in any high society period home. The room offered fantastic views of the sprawling manicured gardens as we sipped our fresh coffee and nibbled our finger sandwiches. Our afternoon tea included a selection of sandwiches, two small scones each (one with raisins), clotted cream and jams and homemade cakes and tarts. The desserts were very rich, and although at first the offering looked petite, we found we struggled to finish everything and were completely stuffed by our last sip of coffee.
Having thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, we were then treated to a golf cart tour of the 88 acres of beautiful gardens, complete with foxglove-studded woodlands, clear ponds with huge fish and some of the largest hares I have seen – there must be something in the water.
We marvelled at the rose garden, croquet lawn, apple orchard, wonderfully romantic ‘secret garden’ and ancient cemetery, which bares the graves of priests laid to rest.
Steeped in history
It is the history – and the special effort made to preserve such history – which sets Hawkstone Hall apart from the rest. In 2017 the property was bought by The Distinctly Hospitable Group, which also owns Weston Hall and the Saracens Head. Our tour guide, operations director Eduardo Dos Santos, was extremely accommodating and it was clear he loved the property and brimmed with pride as he showed us around.
The mansion was built between 1701-1725 by Richard Hill of Hawkstone and remained in the family for 200 years until the third viscount Hill faced financial difficulties and bankruptcy forced the sale of the Hall in 1906. Catholic redemptorists bought the hall in 1923 and used it as an international centre for spiritual renewal; this is why there are the graves of priests on the property, along with a chapel with working bells and an organ.
Throughout the whole property a Sonos sound system plays vintage music and creates a fitting atmosphere for the highly detailed rooms created by designer Kay Petrouis. In the main hall there are 12 suites named after British artists, writers, poets and playwrights.
An opulent wedding venue
The extravagant Bronte Bridal Suite is by far the best I have seen. It boasts 15 large sash windows with far-reaching views, a private entry corridor, huge bathroom suite, ‘emperor’ 7ft bed, a banquette seating, a relaxation area and my favourite feature… individual vanity tables for the bride and bridesmaids.
All suites feature opulent chandeliers, four poster beds, luxurious mattresses and palatial bathrooms with showers à deux and cast-iron bathtubs… suffice to say, it’s a bit posh.
All of the beautifully appointed suites showcase a cocktail tray, vintage style radio, Nespresso coffee machine, fluffy bathrobes and Elemis toiletries.
If you’re planning a wedding, I would definitely recommend a look at Hawkstone Hall because it will take your breath away. The building radiates high class vintage charm and features a magical ballroom with sparkling dance floor, a library, tapestry room, winter garden and stunning chapel with under-floor heating.
Plans for a spa
Plans are now underway to offer spa treatments and create a luxury spa complex on the grounds. It will be the final piece to the puzzle to make Hawkstone the ideal vintage fairy-tale venue.
If you want to take a look, you could pop over for the upcoming Screen on the Green events. Bring along your blankets for the first in a series of all-time classics on the big screen in the gardens. First up is Pretty Woman on Friday, July 5, followed by Grease on Saturday, July 6.
Doors open at 5.30pm, with the film starting at 8.00pm. All food & drink consumed must be purchased on site and external catering is not permitted.
Tickets are £19.95 per person. A date night package is available from £274 per couple which includes afternoon tea for two, a bottle of Prosecco and picnic treats, overnight accomodation in a Luxurious Bedroom, breakfast and two VIP cinema tickets. Find out more http://hawkstonehall.co.uk/the-screen-on-the-green. A classic twin starts from £175 per night. Traditional Afternoon tea is served daily for £29.95 per guest.
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