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Our little black book of enchanting places

Thorpe Manor: a star is reborn

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Growing up at Thorpe Manor, little did Henry Teare imagine that his dilapidated family home would one day become one of the most beautiful wedding and private venues in the Cotswolds.Owned by Henry’s step-father, jockey, trainer and owner Derek Ancil, the Grade II Georgian house had dry rot, rising damp, crumbling plasterwork and a roof which, in Henry’s words, was as much use as a chocolate tea pot.So when Derek Ancil died and Henry inherited the house it was a case of leaving it to rot or restoring it. In a moment of what many viewed as madness, he and his fiancée Natasha left their jobs in London, moved to Oxfordshire and spent two and a half years wrestling Thorpe Manor back to its former glory, before opening their elegant doors to their first guests this summer.With the help of 120 skilled craftsmen, Henry and Natasha uncovered 17th-century flagstones in the hall nobody knew were there (they came up beautifully). They dragged antique furniture out of storage. They opened up fireplaces and stripped back centuries of paint.At the same time, they made a considerable number of luxurious, 21st-century additions, including 14 bedrooms (all named after one of Ancil’s winning horses) with fabulous ensuite bathrooms, a cinema room and a new kitchen, where guests can eat if they prefer it to the more formal dining room.Speaking of which, catering at Thorpe Manor is by Indulgence, a local company run by Anthony Robinson, who trained at The Savoy and The Dorchester as well as Hotel du Cap in the South of France. Bespoke menus showcase local game and fish while the house speciality is lamb, slow-cooked outside on the fire pit for six hours. Essentially, though, you can have whatever you like (the beetroot macarons stuffed with goat’s cheese served as canapés are sheer heaven).Thorpe Manor is principally a wedding venue – and an absolutely stunning one at that, with a beautiful garden for marquee receptions – but it’s also possible to take the whole house for short stays. Set in a pretty corner of rural Oxfordshire, it would make a great venue for a special celebration or family get together.

One to three-night stays, from £8,500-£19,000. Wedding hire is from £10,000 for a one-night stay to £22,500 for three nights.

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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