Looking for an alternative to a traditional B&B? Try a Wolsey Lodge — often cheaper and certainly better value.
There’s nothing corporate about them, either. The non-profit association, offering places to stay in the UK and Ireland, was founded 30-odd years ago by Procter Naylor, who believed that ‘an Englishman’s home, with its grandeur and rural splendour, had more to offer than just B&B. It could be an experience’.
Guests often aren’t even given a key, and are welcomed as if they were family or friends. There are 75 B&B properties using the Wolsey Lodge name, ranging from grand halls and country estates to modest townhouses.
Procter’s choice of name was inspired by King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, who toured the realm in the 16th century and received generous hospitality at country houses.
So, here’s our nationwide selection of Wolsey Lodges…
Traditional: Non-profit association Wolsey Lodges offers places to stay in the UK and Ireland, from country estates to modest townhouses. Above is one such abode, Priory Steps in Bradford-on-Avon
Make yourself at home: Guests of Wolsley Lodge properties often aren’t even given a key, and are welcomed as if they were family or friends (file photo)
Meet the chairman
Wolsey Lodges’ chairman, Carey Chapman, and his wife, Diana, own Priory Steps in Bradford-on-Avon, near Bath. It was once the home of the ‘Queen of Speed’, Mary Petre Bruce, the first woman to fly solo around the world and win the Monte Carlo Rally.
There are five bedrooms in what originally was a row of 17th-century weavers’ cottages. The Chapmans welcome you with tea and tell you about the local Saxon chapel, Norman church and one of the country’s oldest tithe barns.
From £110, 01225 862230.
Manor House Farm in Wellingham, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk, is set in beautiful gardens, which are often open to the public under the National Garden Scheme.
Hearty breakfasts are cooked on the Aga and served in the dining room. You can even bring your own horse if you choose. Holkham Beach is close by.
From £150, 01328 838227.
Check into the Grade II-listed North Walls House in the heart of charming Chichester
You’ll find North Walls House, a Georgian family home, in the heart of the charming West Sussex city of Chichester, famous for its cathedral, theatre and Pallant House Gallery.
A Bluthner grand piano in the drawing room sets the scene at this Grade II-listed property and there’s an adjoining coach house set up as a music room.
From £85 (one single from £70), 01243 773435.
A detached mansion, 23 Mayfield is conveniently close to Edinburgh’s city centre. Atmospheric and romantic, the decor relies heavily on candlelight and dark leather, plus plenty of wood panelling. We like the sound of the honesty bar, where you can sample malt whiskies beside an open fire.
From £125, 0131 6675806.
Most rooms at Bossington Hall on Exmoor have sea views, and there’s a private cinema to enjoy
Bossington Hall on Exmoor, on the Somerset coast, is just a few minutes’ walk from the South West Coast Path. It was built in 1911 by Allan Hughes, one of the last great ship magnates, who started the Federal Steam Navigation Company. Most rooms have sea views. Look out for the Grade II-listed squash court and private cinema.
From £150, 07979 026024.
Warwick Hall in Cumbria was once a hotel but is now a family-run B&B. Following advice from TV hotelier Alex Polizzi, the owners upgraded the catering and now employ their own chef, Terence Chapa, who made his name at the Springkell country house in Scotland. You can even go fishing on the River Eden.
From £128, 01228 561546.
Expect antiques and art in each room at Firgrove Country House, a Grade II-listed Georgian property near Ruthin in Denbighshire. In-room fridges include chilled wine glasses, so bring booze. There’ll be plenty of tea and homemade cakes, too.
From £125, 01824 702677.
Anyone for croquet?
Play a round of croquet during your stay at Castell Malgwyn in Wales, which boasts its own croquet lawn that dates from the time it was the home of Lily Gower, a champion of the sport
Castell Malgwyn is one of the smaller stately homes in Pembrokeshire, with a croquet lawn dating from the time it was the home of Lily Gower, a champion of the sport. Unusually for a Wolsey Lodge, breakfast is a continental affair rather than the full cooked version.
From £130, 01239 682104.
Rustic Jacobean pile
A Jacobean country house awaits near Ludlow in Shropshire. Crow Leasow was featured in TV’s The Great Hotel Escape and is named after a thousand-year-old oak in the grounds. It’s rustic: think muddy boots drying by the Aga and a log fire.
From £115, 07812 602122.
Dowfold House is a charming Victorian property in the heart of County Durham, just nine miles from Durham. It was built in 1860 for MP John Pease for those running his mines. Close to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the house has views over the Wear Valley.
From £105, 01388 762473.Prices are B&B per night for two people. Some lodges offer supper. Visit wolseylodges.com.
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