The Lowdown Pickwell Manor is a dream vacation destination that has it all. Snuggling down in North Devon, surrounded by 6 acres of bucolic countryside but ten minutes from Putsborough beach, the grade 11 listed building (the site of which dates back to the 10th century – pre Dooms day if you like) sits like an impeccably realised film set – all twinkling mullioned windows, glowing golden stone and grounds that encompass everything your Swallows and Amazon children could want on a week’s holiday. Founded by two engaging couples (the Bakers and the Elliots) who quite rightly decided to up-sticks from the city and carve out a family friendly future in deepest Devon. It offers an addictive home away from home experience albeit with records dating back to the 10th century (proudly claimed as pre Doomsday Book). My kids were particularly fascinated by the fact that three men who murdered Thomas Beckett fled to Pickwell only to be caught and beheaded infront of the house. Stay there on Dec 29th, while there is a full moon and you may see ghosts of the luckless assassins riding towards the beach without their heads.
The Apartments It is clear that an incredible amount of thought went into the designing and decorating of these apartments, possibly because one of the founders is a very talented interior designer. . (And intriguing is also run as a non-profit organisation for local charities) They have kept all the original features but style and comfort definitely come first. Lets start with the adorably quirky: The Chapel is designed to look like a mini camper van (my daughter was completely bewitched by its charm) and would make a fabulously off-beat booking for a surfing couple who pack very light. There is also The Amity which plays out like a mini Hampton beach house with a bed on the mezzanine and a window made from coloured wine bottles. For those who need space to swing a cat, take your pick from the carefully appointed apartments, some of which sleep up to 8. The kitchens are beautifully appointed (the owners LOVE their food and you will be welcomed by some rather delicious baking when you first check in), the cupboards are full of books and games for the kids.
The food We found it hard to stay out of The Rock Inn, a divine gastro pub in nearby Georgeham (5 mins by car, 20 mins by foot). They like kids and it has a fabulous we’re-on-holiday atmosphere. Pickwell’s owners are big foodies and currently working on growing as much home grown produce as they can on the Manor. And oddly enough given that it is a holiday the kitchens are so nicely equipped that you may actually want to buy some fresh ingredients from the stores in Georgeham and make something yourself. Those of you lucky enough to stay in the summer will be benefit from the weekly cream teas on the patio. Delish.
The grounds Your kids will adore them, whatever the weather. We went in Easter so we did spend a lot of time in the games room (a little standalone chalet filled with zillions of toys) playing table tennis while it rained but the grounds were incredibly well thought out for adventurous kids. Alongside the nature trails and treasure hunts there is a pirate island with a treasure chest and flag hidden in the grounds, a tennis court, basket ball court and giant chess. You can also brave the 25 minute walk to Putsborough beach which involves almost absailing down a steep slope. My daughter had the time of her life.
Exclusive Pickwell Manor and InStyle offer Pickwell Manor would like to offer Instyle readers a special mid-week offer of four nights for the price of three across any apartment until the end of 2013, subject to availability.
Prices One bed apartments available from £325 per week, two bed apartments available from £425 per week, and large three bed apartments available from £575 per week. Short breaks are also available from £75 per night to £150 per night depending on the apartment.
By Elidh MacAskill