Brocket Hall has seen some history. In 1760 a new red-brick house, recalling the elegant symmetry of classical architecture, was completed. Then landscaper Richard Woods was called in to “improve” the 543 acres of grounds in the style of the renowned Capability Brown. The result? A supremely serene vision of the great English country landscape.
In Victorian times, the grand stately house was the home to two Prime Ministers, first Lord Melbourne and then Lord Palmerston. The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 brought a new role for Brocket as a maternity hospital for evacuated mothers. Over the next decade 8,338 babies were born at the hall.
Now, Brocket Hall has another reincarnation. These leafy Hertfordshire acres have become a Mecca for golfers. Just 25 miles north of London, close to the A1, M1 and M25, Brocket’s two championship courses draw golfers from afar. It also welcomes those seeking a base to explore nearby Welwyn Garden City and local Hertfordshire
Melbourne Lodge provides stately, spacious accommodation for guests. Once these buildings stabled the horses who hunted on the estate’s acres and who pulled carriages across the ridings that cross-cross the estate. Most memorably, Brocket had its own racecourse. Each of the 16 high-ceilinged rooms is named after a racehorse. Artwork celebrates those horses as well as their breeders and riders.
Lord Melbourne would have felt at home amongst the tall mainsail curtains, large beds of aristocratic proportions, silky curtains and expansive writing desks. Baths are comfortingly deep and there is even the decadent touch of exfoliating loofahs.
The landscape that Richard Woods “improved”, planting trees, redirecting the River Lea, building bridges, and widening an ornamental lake, is now the home to two championship golf courses whose names honour the former premiers.
Both courses start from the clubhouse that overlooks the ornamental lake. Designed by “the voice of golf” Peter Allis and Clive Clark, the Melbourne Course thrice crosses the River Lea. A final fourth crossing, to the 18th green, is by ferry.
In contrast, the 18 holes of the Palmerston Course, steer away from the river. Tree-lined fairways pass through some of the estate’s ancient woodland of Hornbeam, Scots and Corsican Pine, as well as oak trees more than five centuries old. Both courses have lush, lawny fairways. Bunkers with sand as white as a Maldives beach. Emerald greens, that run fast and true.
If the courses test a golfer’s game to its limits, the academy is available for some maintenance. There is an indoor swing studio, a driving range, a putting green, a chipping green and a short course. Brocket Hall really is the ultimate golfing Mecca.
Many golfers opt for a one-round, one night package or a two-round, one night stay. Both include breakfast in the clubhouse where they can browse David Cannon’s remarkable golf photography. The exhibition is a whistle stop tour of some of the world’s most scenic holes and memorable moments from the majors.
Guests can either eat in the clubhouse, walk to one of the local pubs or, from Thursday to Saturday, take lunch or dinner at the Auberge du Lac. The restaurant, also serving Sunday lunch, sits idyllically across the lake from the clubhouse.
Drinks can be enjoyed on the lakeside terrace or in a cosy lounge. No surprise that John Barber, new Head Chef, is reducing food miles and making the most of Brocket’s kitchen garden. Look out for freshly picked herbs and salad accompanying starters on a menu that may include beef tartare, burrata, duck liver pate, ricotta tartlet, scallops, and sea bass ceviche as well as daily specials. Similarly there are more fresh veg and herbs accompanying the mains of aged sirloin, cod, halibut, lamb and risotto. Heading for dessert, there is an impressive intensity to the flavour of the strawberry velouté
If you think there is a touch of the Jane Austens to Brocket Hall and its estate you are close to the truth. Used as a location for Pride and Prejudice in 1996, Mr Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett would certainly have walked and taken carriage rides through these historic acres.
Brocket Hall fact file
One-night, one-round stays start from £190 per person which includes a traditional full English breakfast served in the clubhouse. One-night, two-round packages begin from £285. See Brocket Hall Estate for more details.
If you enjoyed this review of Brocket Hall, you’ll find more UK leisure breaks on our Travel channel.Tags: Bocket Hall, UK golf breaks Last modified: July 31, 2023