Loyd & Townsend Rose, Newton Surmaville, The Moult, Knowlton Court, LTR Castles


Explore expansive formal gardens at Newton Surmaville, where history awaits in the English hamlet of Yeovil, Somerset. | Photo by Juliet Murphy

An Aristocratic Life

Live Nobly in British Castles and Manors

By Carolyn O’Neil

Imagine waking to the sound of songbirds in the rose garden and the aroma of freshly perked coffee and sizzling sausages signaling breakfast to come. As you pull back the bedroom drapery to view the landscape of a manicured country estate outside, it’s time to start another day as lord or lady of the manor.

No, you’re not dreaming of Downton Abbey. You’re a guest at one of the exquisite historic properties managed by Loyd & Townsend Rose, set in the most picturesque places across Great Britain.

Renting a villa in Italy or a chateau in France has long been a favorite choice among travelers looking for privacy and a more residential feel when vacationing abroad. It’s especially appealing if they’re traveling with friends or family and want to set up a beautiful base camp to explore surrounding areas, settle in on velvet sofas with a book, or laze in the sun by a swimming pool.

Now, vacationers can add the experience of making themselves at home in a magnificent manor home in merry old England. 

Loyd & Townsend Rose, a luxury concierge service specializing in extraordinary experiences in ancestral country houses, castles, and stately homes, handles all the details to create a memorable stay in magical locations, from quaint villages to seaside cliff tops. 

Properties range in size from five to twenty bedrooms, most with ensuite bathrooms, and all with elegant decor mixing treasures from the past with the convenience and comfort of the modern era.

You’ll likely discover a room you didn’t know you needed! These homes have designated boot rooms where rain boots of various sizes are lined up for guests to don on walks through meadows, streams, and woods—sometimes accompanied by the host family’s dogs. Whether it’s a billiards table, a fully stocked bar, or a living room with ample seating, each home is designed to entertain a crowd. “It’s the ultimate house party,” says co-founder Jonathan Townsend-Rose. He emphasizes these are not just rental properties, “We enjoy a close relationship with all of the owners and the staff at these estates and take great pride in our local knowledge and love for these historic homes.”

Meet the Manors

Newton Surmaville

When you enter the long drive leading up to Newton House with its golden-hued stones glowing in the sun, the only word that comes to mind is “Wow!” This handsomely restored seventeenth-century estate in Somerset is a majestic Jacobean manor surrounded by sixty-two acres of parkland grounds, including sheep meadows and formal flower gardens. The current redesign was led by famed New York-based interior designer Jeffrey Bilhuber, who chose a sophisticated mix of contemporary touches to liven up period furnishings. For example, Bilhuber added blush-tone linen draperies to the formal dining room, which features an impressively large George IV walnut table.

There are nine bedrooms and eight baths, accommodating up to twenty people, with oak paneling, mantled fireplaces, flagstone flooring, and wall-sized tapestries. A private chef skillfully commands the kitchen using produce from the greenhouse gardens and treats from local purveyors, including delicious butter and cheeses.

Guests are served dinner, breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea with freshly baked scones. There’s even a Newton House gin that is distilled on the property. Area activities organized by Loyd & Townsend Rose travel advisors include tours of the Temperley family-run Somerset Cider and Brandy Company with tasting room, distillery, and heirloom apple orchards. The Brown and Forrest Smokery is another Somerset foodie favorite, where the art of hot and cold smoked salmon, trout, chicken, and cheeses is at its finest.

The Moult

Yes, there is a place called the “British Riviera,” and Salcombe in South Devon is the ultimate English seaside resort town. Think Nantucket meets Bar Harbor with an English accent! The Moult is one of the finest and most famous private houses on the coast, positioned on its own peninsula and now welcoming guests to share what residents have relished for centuries. 

The house is painted a pretty salmon pink that pops against the bright blue of the sea views beyond. Built in the 1700s and once owned by the Earl of Devon, in more recent history, The Moult was the location for filming an Agatha Christie drama. The house is full of traditional English fittings, and outside, there are stone paths to the beach below, a gazebo, and a croquet court. Plenty of modern lifestyle additions include contemporary art, a cinema, a gym, a heated seventy-two-foot swimming pool, a firepit, and even an inground trampoline. There are eleven bedrooms with private bathrooms for up to twenty-four people. When I stayed at The Moult, I discovered a new room every day! It’s enormous, but the common spaces for gathering at cocktail hour and meals make you feel so at home.

Seaside area activities include swimming, fishing, beach walking, coastal hill hikes, and exhilarating ride-the-waves boat tours led by Salcombe Sea-n-Shore. Guests can find thrills of the cocktail kind at Salcombe Gin. Join the Salcombe Gin School experience, and you’ll not only learn how to make gin crafted with local botanicals but also leave with a personally distilled bottle.

The grand house is surrounded by magnificent gardens punctuated by towering animal-shaped topiaries, including rabbits, peacocks, and a snail.

Knowlton Court 

Knowlton Court is situated in the heart of Kent, often called the Garden of England. Owners Andrew and Fenella Fox-Pitt are leading the way in tending that garden with a large working farm and a passion for agriculture, the environment, conservation, and preservation.

Built in 1585, Knowlton Court oozes history but has been recently renovated with modern bathrooms and interior decor to welcome guests—and they can welcome a lot of them! There are nineteen luxury bedrooms with private bathrooms, which sleep up to thirty-eight people, plus further accommodation on the estate, allowing for eighty guests. The grand house is surrounded by magnificent gardens punctuated by towering animal-shaped topiaries, including rabbits, peacocks, and a snail. Gleaming suits of armor greet guests in the house’s front hall, and centuries-old artwork adorns the walls throughout. 

You may remember the magazine Horse and Hound, which appears in the movie Notting Hill. Well, here you’ll find a display of framed Horse and Hound covers (just outside the boot room) starring family member William Fox-Pitt, one of Britain’s best known and much awarded equestrians.

Activities in the area include day trips to the medieval city of Canterbury, famed for Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Canterbury Cathedral. Head towards the coast near Dover, and you’ll find the new home of England’s burgeoning sparkling wine industry. Giving Champagne a run for the money, English bubbly is gaining world attention. Global warming may help, but Charles Simpson of Simpsons’ Wine Estate says, “It’s about the grapes, the winemaking, and the chalk-rich terroir of the land.”

Privacy with Panache

Choosing homes over hotels is quite a travel trend these days. Perhaps born out of the desire for social distancing during the pandemic, people realized they liked the exclusivity and level of personal service. “Travelers are going from one private experience to the next,” says Misty Belles, vice president at Virtuoso, a global network of luxury travel advisors.

“It’s really a great option for multigenerational families,” Belles adds. With all the bedrooms and baths, living rooms and dining rooms, house staff at the ready, and a range of local area adventures, there’s something for everyone in a group to enjoy.

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For more information on planning a visit to the houses, manors, and castles managed by Loyd & Townsend Rose in England, Scotland, and Ireland, visit LTRcastles.com.

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