Less than two hours from both Birmingham and London, Burleigh Court, elegantly residing in the Cotswolds, is literally a breath of fresh air for world-weary urbanites.
A rare moss, that only thrives in the fresh air, grows on the towering yew and pine trees of the four acres of Burleigh Court’s grounds: far from the madding crowd.
A valley drops away from the cattle-grazed 600 ancient acres of Minchinhampton Common, home to wild orchids and cyclamen, down steep Brimscombe Hill to Burleigh: the hill’s pasture parcelled up by some of the Cotswolds’ 4,000 miles of scenic drystone walls.
Ivy, resplendent red in autumn, and a vine creep across walls of Burleigh Court as they have for decades. The honey-coloured Grade 2 listed Manor House is currently approaching its 200th anniversary. Secluded amongst the terraces and trees, there is always a private spot, deckchair or hammock or wooden bench, to contemplate the beauty of Golden Valley.
Yet, Burleigh Court has more attractions than just walks through the Gloucestershire countryside, a croquet lawn, afternoon tea on the terrace, drinks by a log fire and dinner in a two AA rosette restaurant. More appeal than merely an ideal location for exploring Cheltenham, Cotswold villages, Highgrove, Slimbridge and Westonbirt Arboretum.
Emanuelle, Burleigh’s foraging expert and kitchen gardener, introduces guests to the lost art of foraging. For a species once dependent on hunting and gathering for our survival, our knowledge has sunk to a new low. For most of us, foraging has declined to little more than an autumnal frolic for blackberries and the annual quest for sloes for the gin. We have lost the ability to see the terrain around us, to understand that we can feed ourselves, very healthily, from what nature provides. No longer do we acutely sense the subtle changes of seasons that transforms nettles from tender to toxic.
“I rarely buy from the shops other than for flour, oats, pasta and rice”, says Emanuelle who looks remarkably well on her predominantly foraged diet. Of course, she makes her own bread but has to moderate the strong flavours of the seeds she gathers with blander commercially produced flour. “Modern taste buds aren’t used to many of nature’s strong bitter tastes,” reflects Emanuelle. Nor does she reach for the washing powder on laundry day. Conkers and soapy ivy provide a lather.
Prospective foragers can either sign-up for a group foraging course, followed by a forager’s three-course lunch in Burleigh Court’s oak-panelled restaurant, or book a private course walking the local footpaths, woodland and fields.
For those who would rather delegate the foraging, the two AA rosette restaurant, its oak panels romantically lit with candles and surrounding table lamps discreetly placed, provides a menu predominantly locally sourced. Sustainable is a key concept: only Old World wines appear on the menu to reduce transport miles and Emanuelle has recently acquired a gigantic greenhouse to increase the number of homegrown herbs, fruit and vegetables available to the chefs.
Accordingly, a Forager’s Salad, with heritage tomatoes and Burleigh Court micro-herbs is a flagship starter. Though equally, it could have been a Celeriac Fondant, with accompanying mushrooms, which is very popular with diners.
Perhaps the star of the main course options – with all due respect to the pork, halibut, mushroom Wellington and other options – is the venison option.
Forget stodgy suet pudding, Burleigh’s chefs have reinvented the bad boy of school dinners. Within the thin outer crisp coat, a fluffy suet captures venison immersed in a beef and red wine jus that has simmered for two days. Alongside the pudding sit two medallions of haunch of venison, cooked sous vide at 58 centigrade for an hour.
Finally, at the end of a Cotswold day, guests head up the stairs, unless they are staying in one of the two ground floor dog-friendly rooms.
Each of the bedrooms is individually decorated. Although the house was originally Georgian, there is an air of a well-to-do Victorian Lady’s boudoir to the bedrooms with the framed botanical prints and gentle pools of light from wall-lights and table lamps. As well as thick curtains there is an option to close the wooden shutters and shut out the night you want the night to last a little longer.
Burleigh Court is that sort of indulgent escape, a home-from-home country retreat, where welcoming staff help you to relax and recharge before returning to the world.
Tell Me More About Burleigh Court Hotel
Burleigh Court Hotel, The Roundabouts, Brimscombe, Gloucestershire GL5 2PF
T: 01453 883804 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
For travel in November, a room only stay in Burleigh’s new four-poster ‘Romantic’ category suite is priced from £209 per night (Sunday-Thursday) and £229 per night (Friday and Saturday).
For travel in December, the room is priced from £219 per night (Sunday-Thursday) and £239 per night (Friday and Saturday). Dinner, Bed, and Breakfast packages are also available and there are a range of special offers on the website.
The Wild Foodie Foraging Experience from £65 per person or £130 per couple