Back in January we spent a weekend at a wonderful little building, West Banqueting House, in Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds. West Banqueting House is a Jacobean building, originally built to enjoy seventeenth century banquets within and now managed by The Landmark Trust. We'd spied the house from our car last autumn, when we were in the area for a wedding. We quickly fell in love with its extraordinary beauty (I remember the car screeching to a halt and us jumping out in awe), particularly because its equally beautiful sister, East Banqueting House, sits just yards away. We tried to find a way in at the time, not knowing what the buildings were being used for or who owned them, and then just before Christmas I discovered that, fortunately, they'd fallen into the care of The Landmark Trust. I immediately booked a weekend's stay in the smaller of the buildings and kept it as a surprise for D.'s Birthday in January... And so, to the Banqueting House! We took two friends with us, travelling up on a chilly Friday afternoon. We ate supper at an excellent little restaurant in the village (The Chef's Dozen - imaginative, seasonal food) and rose early on Saturday (above). The ground was frosty and pale but the morning sun was basking everything in soft, warm light. D. and I can never sleep in on weekends, we get too excited about breakfast. Of course, we'd arrived in absolute darkness the night before, so we had a lot of fun running around and looking at everything - the architecture of the buildings, the remains of Campden House on our doorstep (sadly destroyed by fire in 1645), the view across the hills, the church next door...
West Banqueting House's bathroom is incredibly charming. Total perfection. The house really only consists of one main room with a big farmhouse table and basic kitchen at one end, squishy sofas and armchairs and a huge fireplace at the other. Up a spiral staircase to the fab bathroom and a cosy bedroom. What else could you possibly need?
Our two friends, Charlotte and Niels, slept next door in the Almonry, a smaller version of our abode but just as magical. After dinner on Friday evening I slipped over on the wet grass and fell into a ditch. The wine's fault.
We spent Saturday down the road at Soho Farmhouse, eating, drinking, and even rowing in a small boat at one point, if I remember correctly. Later on we prepared a banquet worthy of the house - champagne, roast chicken and apple and blackberry crumble. We talked and played games by the fire late into the night, the cold Cotswold wind whipping around the building's old stone walls.
I came across a battered copy of Follies and Grottoes by Barbara Jones in the Almonry, a favourite book of mine. I hadn't noticed this hilarious paragraph before however. It delighted me very much and made me realise that I need a giant party boat shaped like a swan, pronto.
Our bedroom... Welsh rugs, warm blankets and lovely old furniture. Sunday was spent at the fabulous Wheatsheaf Inn in nearby Northleach. I had a very good cheese soufflé. As I mentioned in a recent post, I'd not seen a soufflé on a restaurant menu in ages and now suddenly I feel like I can't move for the things, which is obviously excellent. Anyway, we lounged about in the pub for quite some time afterwards because it was raining (but mostly because of the huge lunch), before dropping Niels off at a train station up the road. Charlotte, D. and I spent one more night at the house and then, back it was to London on Monday. It was a dreamy weekend... We're already planning our next Landmark Trust adventure!