Location, location, location. Tortworth Court, a grand Victorian Manor House, sits tranquilly on 30 acres of peaceful parkland, just minutes from the M4 and M5, making it a perfect weekend retreat.
For those with a little more time, perhaps for a longer mid-week break, this refined country house proves a perfect base for visiting Bristol's historic ships, Slimbridge Wetlands Centre and Cheddar Gorge. With Bristol just 18 miles away and Bath a mere 23, it does not take long to be at the heart of two of Britain's great cultural and retail centres.
Once a grand Victorian home completed in 1853 for Robert, the second Earl of Ducie, Tortworth Court had something of a Downton Abbey moment when the third Earl of Ducie died childless – he was the one who planted the arboretum. A distant relative was summoned from Australia to take control.
Only recently have the house and elegant formal gardens been restored to their former glory, after a testing 20th century. With Tortworth Court requisitioned for naval use in the Second World War and then severely damaged by a 1991 fire, De Vere undertook extensive refurbishment work and have recently given this rambling stately home a subtle tartan-and-tweed makeover.
With the spa offering a range of pampering treatments, a warm indoor swimming pool, a well-equipped gym and beautiful walks in the grounds – many guests park their car for a few days and try to forget the outside world. Also, there is always leisurely afternoon tea, served in The 1853 Restaurant, to help you pleasantly wile away an hour or two.
Ascending the grand staircase from the spacious reception area in the main house takes you to the decadent Suites occupying the first and second floors. Vast beds, inviting tan-leather sofas and subtle variations-of-grey-paint-schemes create a civilised Downton Abbey experience. Yet the brilliantly spotlight-lit bathrooms with their almost instant hot water, huge wooden-framed mirror, deep bath, separate shower and gleaming chrome are state-of-the-art.
The high-ceilinged library, with books haphazardly horizontally stacked, is now also a waitress service bar, the ideal place for a pre-dinner drink. If you happen to enjoy premium gin you will enjoy Tortworth’s tempting range.
Then you can either dine informally in the 60 feet high Atrium, with its bar menu or opt for the grandeur of The 1853 Restaurant. Tortworth's chefs are eager to make the most of the neighbouring green and pleasant land with a desire to focus on local produce such as rump of lamb with seasonal vegetables and succulent belly of pork complemented by black pudding.
Traditional values prevail at breakfast too. As well as an extensive buffet for a traditional full English breakfast there are also options to upgrade to kippers served with butter and lemon juice or smoked haddock accompanied by a poached egg.
A taste of Tortworth Court's luxurious lifestyle often leaves guests wanting more. For many returning visitors, escaping stressful city living, Tortworth has become their regular rural retreat. Then for those special occasions, a significant birthday or an anniversary to celebrate, The Orangery provides a very memorable venue.Last modified: April 7, 2021