A real feel of Elizabethan splendour
By Ann Mealor
Taking the time to read up just a little about the history of Billesley Manor will reap genuine reward.
This 16th century Elizabethan manor house in 11 acres of parkland near Stratford-upon-Avon, stands on the site of an original manor house mentioned in the Domesday Book’d Great survey of England and part of Wales in 1068.
William Shakespeare is also said to have written As You Like It while staying at Billesley and he is believed to have married Anne Hathaway in the 11th century All Saints Church in its grounds.
Billesley Manor provides a great base for exploring Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The 72 bedrooms are located in the manor house itself or in the adjoining Cedar Barns and have all the facilities one would expect.
The spa at Billesley Manor offers a full range of treatments along with has an indoor swimming pool, fitness suite, steam, sauna a yoga hut.
The dining room at Billesley Manor has everything you would expect from a luxurious country house hotel.
There dark oak beams, original wood panelling hung with gilt framed oils, high backed, cushioned, maroon upholstered chairs, a large stone fireplace, starched white tablecloths, flickering candles, a vase hosting a large, bright yellow chrysanthemum and soothing music.
It all created a relaxed and homely ambience.
Could the meal live up the plush surroundings of the glorious manor house?
The menu looked promising, with not too many dishes, but enough to give a good choice.
For the first course, I had the carrot and Thai basil soup and Ashley the goat’s cheese pannacotta with Nero chutney and black olive.
Hot bread rolls and butter came first of course, which I always tuck into.
I know it isn’t always advised, but such a treat!
My soup was very hot (in temperature) which pleased me as I am not a fan of lukewarm, and there was a great combination of flavours with a tangy kick.
Ashley’s pannacotta won the first round though.
It looked a picture with a smooth, white dome, topped by the shards of black olive crisp, edged by bright red, roasted cherry tomatoes and inky black splodges of caramelised beetroot chutney.
Crowned with a delicate tendril of bright green pea shoot, it was a delightfully light and creamy mix of texture, colour and taste.
The main course
For mains I went for the 10oz sirloin steak with cherry tomatoes, sautéed wild mushrooms and chunky chips, which exceeded expectations.
The steak was juicy, succulent and flavoursome – cooked medium-well without being dry. I savoured every mouthful.
The mushrooms were sweet and delicate and made a welcome change from the usual field mushroom.
The triple cooked chips and glistening tomatoes were tasty accompaniments.
Nothing was left on my plate.
Ashley made short work of his sea bass in a creamy sauce on a bed of asparagus, mange tout and new potatoes, presented on a black plate with edible pansies and dainty pea shoots.
For dessert I had the recommended light green pannacotta with its savoury hint of basil complemented by the sweetness of fresh strawberries.
Ashley the lime cheesecake with blood orange gel and charred orange, with its richness nicely balanced by the citrus and the sticks of candied peel.
Both were delicious particularly the pannacotta.
The service was prompt, efficient and friendly, making the whole meal a real experience.
Billesley Manor also offers guests full cooked and continental breakfast options to get the day started in the best possible way.