This newly restored restaurant with rooms is housed in an old manor house on the edge of the New Forest, where ponies and deer roam freely.
Set in the picturesque New Forest, in Hampshire, Burley Manor reopened its doors in December following a £1.8m refurbishment, which has revived the spirit of this old manor house, creating a cosy bolthole to escape the winter weather and a grand home from which to explore the ancient hunting ground when the sun peaks its head out.
The Grade II listed building dates back to 1852, but the history of the grounds goes back much further. It was the ancestral seat of the de Burley family from 1212 until 1388 when Sir Simon de Burley, one of the most influential people in the court of King Richard II and a childhood friend of his father Edward, the Black Prince (the eldest son of King Edward III), was impeached for treason and died a traitor’s death with his lands rescinded by the Crown.
The current building was built for magistrate and custodian of the New Forest, Colonel William Clement Drake Esdaile, in 1852, but it was a subsequent owner, Mrs Lister-Kay, known as the ‘Fair Farmeress’ who has inspired much of the menu at the present-day Burley Manor, which focuses on Mediterannean flavours and a slow-food ethos. Archive images show that Lister-Kay oversaw an impressive Italian garden with a fowl run, and in homage to her, a modern-day ‘Fair Farmeress’ will take over the new kitchen garden this summer.
The result is tantalising – seasonal herbs and vegetables feature heavily on the menu, which is divided into Forest & Coast, alongside Tapas and sharing dishes, and to be honest, it all sounds delicious.
For us though the pan-fried squid, rocket & chilli and the bresaola (thin strips of salted beef) with crispy mozzarella and plum tomatoes proved irresistible for starters, while I opted for the roasted lemon sole with courgettes with garlic and chilli for my main and my companion had beef sirloin with patatas bravas and we just about managed to stop short of licking our plates clean.
The restaurant itself is warm and relaxed with original features such as wood panelling, complemented with bold fabrics and bright furnishings. After dinner – or indeed before – you can recline in the charming bar area, where if the weather calls for it the fire will be lit. Alternatively, head to the resplendent drawing room, across the entrance hall or take a walk around the grounds, which overlook Burley Park. There are even umbrellas by the door to help shelter you from the elements.
When you’re ready to retire for the evening, you’re in for a treat. The generously proportioned rooms, which are located either in the main house or with access to the gardens, each feature luxurious Hypnos beds dressed in lush fabrics with plump pillows and cushions and are furnished with antique pieces, while the vintage-style bathrooms come with complimentary TempleSpa toiletries.
A welcome package that includes a wide selection of hot drinks, still and sparkling water, plus homemade cookies makes you feel suitably looked after, and come spring two treatment rooms will be available for some added relaxation.
A short walk down the lane will bring you to the quirky village of Burley, once home to smugglers, highwaymen and a famous ‘witch’, the latter of whom named one of the local shops, Witchcraft. There are a couple of pubs, including the Queen’s Head where a secret cellar hid local smugglers’ hoards, a few places to take afternoon tea and one place selling delicious homemade fudge. Keep an eye out for the famous New Forest ponies, which roam freely throughout the village, while deer can be spotted in Burley Park.
Prices at Burley Manor on a bed and breakfast basis start from £119 for two people in a ‘snug room’.
To book or for more information see Burley Manor or call 01425 403522.
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