Gittisham village according to HRH Prince Charles is the "ideal English village". It's also home to an exemplary English country manor - Combe House Hotel.
Combe House became England's first country hotel forty years ago. It´s a timeless spot, a Jane Austin setting, and I wouldn´t have been surprised to see Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy cantering across the lawns.
The glorious Grade 1, 15-bedroom Elizabethan manor sits grandly in the 3,500 acre estate of Combe. When I arrived a wisp of smoke wafted upwards, a backdrop of ancient trees and horses galloping on the meadows in front set the scene. I was infatuated, it´s dreamily romantic from both outside and in.
The smell of a newly lit fire greeted me in the Grand Hall. Huge logs from the estate beginning to throw out some heat and afternoon tea, served in the old-fashioned style, in cosy comfortable chintzy chairs made me feel right at home.
Here of course it has to be a Devon Cream Tea, lashings of clotted cream with freshly baked scones and a vast choice of home-made jam. Combe House is popular for outside diners as well as for Cream Teas, with two master chefs running the kitchen.
Everything is sourced locally, beef comes from the Gittisham herd grazing the estate. Honey comes from the hotel´s beehives and soft fruits, salads and vegetables from their kitchen garden.
My English country house experience was one I´d repeat again and again. A warm welcome and fine dining in a chocolate box location. It’s homely and friendly and individual. One to swoon over.
Combe House Hotel & Restaurant, Gittisham, Honiton, Devon, EX14 3AD. Tel: 01 404 540 400