These days finding a bed for the night can feel like going to a shopping centre - they all scream corporate identity; the bland same.
There is no warmth, no personal involvement, no memorable charm, and not much to make you remember the event with pleasure.
Nothing could be further from the corporate touch when it comes to accommodation arranged through Wolsey Lodges, a consortium of bed and breakfast business owners following in the footsteps of country house owners of the 16th Century who gave generous hospitality to Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey.
The B&Bs are far from the standard accommodation usually found at a B&B. Homes range from stately homes to elegant townhouses, hidden gems scattered all around the country. Guests are welcomed in the same way personal friends and family would be, with a welcoming tea on arrival.
The word unique is much over used, but in this case it is accurate. Every Wolsey Lodge is unique with its own character. Most have around three bedrooms, all either en suite or with private bathrooms.
We stayed with Suzie and David Balfour, at Morland House, the former vicarage in the tiny, charming village of Morland, eight miles south of Penrith in the beautiful Eden Valley..
The family has lived in the house since 1828. The Grade II listed building is mainly Victorian in character but parts of it go back to Tudor times. Carved dark oak panelling dominates the house. Much of it is the creation of Suzie’s ancestor, lovingly known as “The Colonel”. Morland House oozes history, reflecting the lives of the family’s well-read men who served both country and the church. There are more literary classics from Canon on the book shelves than at Burnley Library, all to be enjoyed besides the roaring log stove keeping out the chilly evening.
Our bedroom, with crisp, white linen was spacious, beautifully furnished with antiques. It was a real pleasure to relax in comfortable chairs and watch the birds in the garden, while enjoying the subtle fragrance of lovely roses that added a finishing touch to the room. As might be expected from this special B&B, we could not see all the garden from our bay window vantage point.
There are four charming acres, with lawns (tended by bowling enthusiast David), as well yew walks, flower borders, a croquet lawn and Morland Beck, crossed either by bridge or stepping stones to the Quarry Garden or the Orchard.
Many Wolsey Lodge hosts are super cooks, so we looked forward to our dinner and to hearing more about the house from our hosts. Hearty lamb and copious wine was followed by Suzie’s crepes and home-made grape ice cream, absolutely delicious.
The English breakfast the following morning was designed to set visitors up for a busy day ahead. In the words of Goldilocks, the porridge was “just right”, as was the locally-produced food and the bottomless coffee pot. A perfect way start for a day exploring the gardens, country houses and steam railways of the Eden Valley.
As every Wolsey Lodge is different, and not every host offers dinner, it is strongly recommended that visitors always discuss their requirements. Rooms are charged per person per night, and dinner is extra. At Morland House it is between £50 and £70, depending on the season, with a supplement for single occupancy. Supper is £25.
For more information about Wolsey Lodges go to the website: www.wolseylodges.com