I love Devon, although I’m a little biased. I was born in south Devon and brought up just over the border in Cornwall so I know the area well. But the north coast of Devon has always been a bit of a mystery to me. It was like going over to the dark side, all brooding and rugged with the wild Atlantic Ocean unforgivably battering the beaches. So, I was delighted when my family and I were invited* to stay at Pickwell Manor near Braunton for a few nights. Pickwell has been named the best alternative to Centre Parcs by The Guardian and their Laundry Room features in the Wall Street Journal’s Year in Photos 2014 and has often been quoted as having the laundry with the best view! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see a laundry room and as this is the first year Pickwell Manor are staying open for the winter, including Christmas and the New Year, I was curious to see what it had to offer for the colder months.
We arrived after a very long journey (my fault for being overly optimistic that it would be fine to head down the M27 just before rush hour!) and were able to find the Manor and our apartment easily. We were staying in Constance which sleeps up to 4 people, 1 double bedroom and a partitioned bunk room with built in bunk beds within the lounge which my kids absolutely loved and couldn’t wait to get to bed! We were warmly welcomed with freshly cut flowers, home made brownies, a bottle of white wine from the region (which I can confirm was delicious) and plenty of information of the Manor and surrounding areas all contained in a tablet for you to use. I loved this idea as it’s a great way of cutting down on paper.
After an extremely comfortable night’s sleep, we went for a walk around the grounds and Mr B took the kids to the Games Room whilst I went to explore the rest of the apartments and tree houses gloriously unaccompanied. Pickwell Manor itself sits in six acres of garden and grounds with views to the Devon coast and surrounding countryside. It has been divided into 10 individual apartments, all with their own unique style and includes a 16th century private chapel with an outside bath!
We entered the Manor through a lovely courtyard and into a reception area with an imposing grand staircase which is in keeping with the Jacobean style of the manor. Through the reception there is a long hallway with doors that lead you into “The Snug”. This runs along the south facing ground floor of the manor and includes a ballroom, seating area around a wood burner and large open plan living area with a kitchen and separate island I could only dream of! This area can be hired out as a venue in itself, or it can be used as a “hub” when the apartments Grace, Bliss, Affinity and The Chapel have been booked together (which combined can sleep up to 30 guests!)
Coming out of The Snug and heading up the grand staircase takes you to two large apartments. Upstairs to the right is Bliss which still has the original oak panelled doors, high ceilings and feature fireplaces. Bliss consists of 4 bedrooms, my favourite being the large super-king bedroom with in-room bath, kitchen with large range cooker and a huge lounge and dining room that can easily accommodate all the guests in the apartment. I particularly liked the raised seating area looking out over the south facing gardens and the pops of colour in this room.
AFFINITY – SLEEPS 7
Next door to Bliss is Affinity which consists of three bedrooms, again one bedroom with in-room bath, a self-catering kitchen and a large dining table and seating area. The lounge looks out of the south facing old mullion windows with a galley style kitchen running along the full length of the room. The rooms are huge and have retained a lot of the character and personality of the Manor which adds to the essence of staying in Affinity.
This had to be my favourite apartment within the Manor. I loved the use of old and new, dark and light colours, views across the south facing grounds and north facing courtyard and the huge amount of space! Grace comprises of 4 bedrooms with my favourite bedroom of the Manor having an in-room bath and a wonderful contemporary shower room. There is also a shared family bathroom, private laundry room and wet room, a huge lounge with seating for 12 people centered around a wood burner for cosy autumnal evenings and an incredibly large country kitchen with double electric AGA style oven.
Pickwell Manor also consists of 6 smaller apartments, 4 of which are on the 1st and 2nd floors of the Manor, one an old converted Chapel and the other the old laundry, Amity! It also has two Tree Houses located in the woodland around the Manor, which needs a blog post all to itself (coming soon!) as they were truly stunning!
To access the Manor apartments, you enter to the side of the manor, through a boot room (which is well stocked with wellies and outdoor wear and a cupboard of useful stuff!) and in through a cosy reception with green leather chesterfields.
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a bright, modern and airy kitchen with dining table and a cosy lounge area with south-facing stone mullion windows overlooking the countryside.
A warm and cosy apartment with fully fitted kitchen and angled lofty ceilings in the bedroom.
This was the former laundry and is now a cosy cottage for two people. It has an airy beach-hut feel with a mezzanine bedroom, bathroom and fitted kitchen.
This is a 16th century chapel that has been modernised to provide a “camper-van” style getaway. Again, it has a fully fitted kitchen, private decking area and an large outside bath!!! But don’t worry, for those cold winter months, there is a double shower in the wet room inside The Chapel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Pickwell Manor. They have thoughtfully planned for all weather eventualities with books, games and entertainment systems in all apartments, a large and fully stocked play room for the children, a tennis court, basketball hoop, woodland trails, an animal area, croquet and a giant chess set to name but a few. The beach is a brisk walk away or 5 minutes by car and of course, you have the wonderful rugged and sandy coastline of North Devon all around you. They have also recently built two Tree-houses, The Hideaway and The Loft and are in the process of building a family tree-house. They were so incredible that I’ve decided to give them their own blog post! We can’t wait to get our next visit booked in soon!
For more information visit - www.pickwellmanor.co.uk
*This was a gifted stay for 2 nights in Constance