As you may have read on our previous posts, we get to go and review all manner of luxury properties and hotels and the buck certainly doesn`t stop at English Stately Homes. We were recently invited along to Bradley House in the heart of Wiltshire, The Duke of Somerset`s second residence and a right royal treat. Having always dreamt of being a Duke (just for a day) I jumped at the chance to `live the dream` and stay in this imposing 14 bedroom residence – the only question was going to be in which room do I sleep!
A couple of hours drive South on the M3 from London and you`re in the middle of nowhere… well a little village called Maiden Bradley actually, blink and you may miss it! Bradley House is set within 5,000 acres of countryside and has remained there for over 300 years. Owned by the second oldest line of Dukes in Britain you really can expect to experience a slice of English history and culture at its finest.
Driving through the gates you are immediately hit by the enormity of the property. The imposing architecture that`s been enjoyed by generation after generation of royal blood dating all the way back to King Henry the 8th. We parked up by the front door and immediately had an appreciation of the tranquillity and enormity of the place. The front doors open directly into the main entrance hall and you are immediately aware of being watched by the generations of Dukes given immortality by their fine artists. Priceless swords, paintings and tapestries adorn the place and straight away I began to realise what it must be like being an English Duke. I love it already!
King Henry The Eighth’s Bed.
After a fascinating tour by David & Kim, the extremely friendly couple commissioned to manage the property, we were handed the keys and told to treat the place as our own home for the remainder of our stay. We got to work exploring and within 10 minutes we lost each other, easily done the place is huge!
What is so wonderful about the property is that it still has the feel of family life, after all the Duke and Duchess brought up 4 children there just a decade or so ago. Apparently, they still visit a few times a year and enjoy the space… and why not, I would for sure.
We had the choice of any bedroom (it was a tough one), we decided on the Duke & Duchesses` purely because the angle of this article, I was on a mission to be Duke for the day after all. The room was splendid with 12ft ceilings and a bathroom which you could have easily held a five a side football tournament in. The decor was in keeping with the property and not overly dated or overly modern, just a very grand and much loved family home. Next door to us was the `second` bedroom which contained a piece of priceless history that relates to the family behind the house… Henry the Eighths bed which he had made to consecrate his marriage to Jane Seymour (the only woman to give him a much desired son). The Seymour`s are the family that own the House… The Duke & Duchess. History lesson over!
After a very grand dinner sitting about 20metres apart in the dining room (as the Dukes before me may would have done) we adjourned to the library for a port in front of the open fire (all very romantic). Normally just 2 guests wouldn`t tend to be alone in the house and I have to say that there were a couple of times the eebiejeebies kicked in purely because of the history it still retains in its atmosphere and ambience.
The house is in fact one of just a handful of stately residences that are available to hire by the general public. It can be booked for weekend and weekday weddings and blocked out for 3 days at a time at a very affordable rate (£4,000 low season – £8,000 high season). It`s available for private parties, new years eves… and more recently a famous band hired it for 6 weeks to write their new album.
To sum up… we were incredibly fortunate to have been able to enjoy this experience and it has to go down as one of our ultimate favourites. If you are looking for an extra-ordinary place to stay then this is certainly the place for you. The house will accommodate up to 28 guests at a time… so bring your friends and enjoy a rare piece of English history.
Can you spot the ghostly face in the picture?
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