There’s romance in the air at Paschoe House, a luxury boutique twixt moors and sea in North Devon. And mystery too.
Back in 2016, when the Tudor Gothic style house, originally built in the 19th century, was being renovated into luxury accommodation, the builders made a discovery. They found a tobacco tin hidden away within the wall of the room that is now “Hedgehog”. Each of the nine rooms has a rural name – Badger, Deer, Rabbit etc – save for the Jack and Jill adjoining family suite of two rooms.
Within the cigarette box, there were two notes to “Pigs” suggesting a meeting at “the swing” and another at “my bedroom”. Sadly, the notes were not signed.
Visiting the building site, a local lady remembered that her grandfather Frank Surgery, who owned the house from 1948 to 1958, was nicknamed “Pigs”. Could this be a master/servant relationship? It’s all very “The Go-Between.” Is this a Thomas Hardy rural love story for the mid 20th century?
Leaving aside romantic love for a moment, there’s romance in the story of Paschoe House too. Back in 2000, Juan Amador had bought run-down Paschoe House to renovate into the ultimate family home.
Then in 2010, Juan unsurprisingly refused his 18-year-old daughter’s request to let her project-manage a transformation of this Devon hideaway into a hotel. Soon afterwards his money ran out but Tabitha had not forgotten her dream. After the house had been empty for six years, Tabitha asked again. Her father agreed, subject to her raising finance and gaining planning permission. This is the Grand Designs story that Kevin McCloud missed.
Since opening in August 1917, Paschoe House has been awarded 5 AA stars for accommodation and is now on the verge of a third AA Rosette for the restaurant. Not yet 30, Tabitha and her chef, Craig Davies, have Michelin Inspectors dropping in regularly to check on Paschoe House’s stratospheric rise. It’s a romantic phoenix from the ashes story, of battling against the odds to make dreams reality.
Far from the madding crowd, distanced from the frenetic and deafening 21st century by a long drive, Paschoe House is an idyllic rural retreat. Although there are the classic hunting prints and quirky taxidermy of a bygone era – there is even a stuffed ostrich surveying the Library Bar and a curled-up badger snoozing for eternity by the fire – this is a landed gentry home with a light contemporary touch.
In the Morning Room, sofas of delicate shades of aubergine, lovat and salmon reveal a feminine touch. While underfloor heating and bedside push-button control of the curtains nicely position the bedrooms within 21st-century comfort zones. There’s even a separate thermostat for the bathrooms with their floral Designer Guild wallpaper and roll-top baths.
Every detail has been considered. On arrival, there are home-made chocolates and cookies to go with coffee from the Nespresso machine or a tea from the tray. Come evening, turn down service drops off a tied scroll of the Paschoe news of weather, events and the recommended tipple of the day.
Back to romance, the St Valentine’s Day wine and roses variety, Tabitha married Robin in 2018 and inevitably chose Pashcoe House as the venue for the reception. Now, Robin has a diverse role. He helps to host the Simulated Shooting (Clay Pigeon) Days. His role is also taking guests on chauffeur-driven tours of the region perhaps calling in at Castle Drogo and Chagford. Frequently, he is picking up guests from Exeter Airport and local railway stations. Paschoe House is acquiring a reputation as a foodie’s dream destination and guests are arriving from afar.
Beginning with canapés in the Library Bar or Morning Room, the seven-course Tasting Menu is the star attraction and more than worthy of a restaurant review in its own right. Chef Craig Davies and his team also provide an a la Carte menu and have recently introduced a Casual Dining Menu to be taken in the Library Bar or Morning Room.
If only such romantic dining options had been available in the days of Pigs and his unnamed lover, they would not have had to meet by the swing.
Tell Me More About Paschoe House, Near Crediton, Devon
Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton EX17 6JT
T: 01663 84244
B&B from £139.