Many of our English inns have reopened, and our Scottish, Welsh and remaining English inns prepare to reopen their doors and welcome back guests soon. All of the Great Inns of Britain have worked diligently on implementing social distancing guidelines, deep cleaning guest rooms and public spaces, and getting our hand-picked collection of independent hotels and coaching inns looking their very best and Covid secure.
If you’re not ready to ditch the binge-watch Netflix series just yet, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite telly-ready backdrops in our third ‘have we got views for you’ instalment with a close-ups of our Great Inns of Britain South of England collection.
Fingers crossed, we may well be ready to ditch the binge-watch Netflix series very soon, but in the meantime, here’s some of our favourite telly-ready backdrops in our third ‘have we got views for you’ instalment with a close-up on our Great Inns of Britain South of England collection.
The Victoria Inn is ideally situated a few minutes’ walk from the glorious golden sands of Holkham Beach and the gates of Holkham Hall. It’s perfectly placed for exploring the county’s windswept coastline, picturesque seaside towns and villages. There are ten bedrooms at ‘The Vic’ and a further ten rooms in Ancient House, a building opposite, each bedroom is individually decorated with many rooms featuring individual objects gleaned from the attics and basements of Holkham Hall.
Like many of the Great Inns of Britain, The Victoria Inn is synonymous with great food and drink. Its main themes are fresh, local and seasonal with simple yet elegant cooking. Whenever possible, the kitchen uses the rich produce grown and raised on the estate. Beef comes from the herd cattle that grazes the freshwater marshes, venison from the Fallow Deer in Holkham Park and lobsters landed fresh at Wells quay less than two miles away. The ‘Vic’ is renowned for its relaxed blend of style and comfort and the bar and dining rooms are very, very popular.
Holkham Hall, part of Holkham Estate is equally popular as a film and television location featuring in numerous productions such as The Duchess (2008), starring Keira Knightly as Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and Dominic Cooper as her lover, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. The Hall has been a frequent host to the BBC1’s eternally popular Sunday night programmes Antiques Roadshow and Countryfile.
Norfolk is truly blessed with the best of both worlds of beautiful countryside walks and coastal views and Holkham beach is a very popular spot with television makers. It was the star of many a scene of ITV1’s Kingdom (2008), which starred Stephen Fry as small town solicitor, Peter Kingdom. Occasionally the beach also plays host to almost 100 horses and riders from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, when they take a welcome break from their London home.
Why not journey to the Cotswold and book a stay at the Kings Head Inn, Bledington, Oxford. Originating in the 16th Century when it was originally built as a Cider House, more recently it was voted Pub of the Year in the 2018 Good Pub Guide.
Owners Archie and Nicola Orr-Ewing have devoted an extraordinary amount of time and energy to restoring and improving this beautiful pub – described in The Sunday Times as ‘The classic English country pub that one always hopes to find but seldom does.’
Cotswold stone walls, old oak beams and flagstone floors create a stunning interior, with the inglenook fireplace dominating one end of the bar. Open fires welcome you in the winter, while in the spring and summer, the gloriously picturesque village green with the brook running through it – and the ducks and bantams wandering freely – creates an idyllic setting for the inn. As to be expected from the Great Inns of Britain, The Kings Head Inn is noted for its outstanding food and has appeared in the Michelin Pub Guide, The Good Food Guide and appeared on the front cover of the Good Pub Guide in 2012.
As well as the Kings Head Inn being a front-cover star, the Cotswolds and surrounding areas are no strangers to blockbusting television and films. Gloucester Cathedral appeared in several of the Harry Potter films and within a 13 to 28 minute drive are numerous locations that starred in ITV1s hugely popular Downton Abbey series. Written by Julian Fellows (Young Victoria, Gosforth Park), the gentle tale of the aristocratic Crawley family and the domestic servants featured a stellar cast of Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham and downstairs, Jim Carter as faithful butler Carson, and Phyllis Logan as dutiful housekeeper, Mrs Hughes.
The village of Snowshill appeared as the location for Pam’s Boxing Day Turkey Curry buffet, where Renée Zellweger meets Reindeer-jumper wearing Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’ Diary. Staying with the Christmas theme, 2006 rom com The Holiday, starring Jude Law and Cameron Diaz, was partly filmed at Cornwell Manor, Cornwell, a ten-minute drive from Bledington. It’s one of many wonderful walks within reach of the Kings Head Inn in the delightful Cotswolds.
Making our way southwards the only way is The Bell Inn, Hordon on the Hill, Essex. The building’s impressive architecture includes the courtyard (awash in summer with magnificent flowers), balcony and archway entrance. The Bell has been with the same family for almost seventy years. John and Christine Vereker are second generation innkeepers, having taken over from Christine’s parents in 1970.
Renowned as a ‘real social centre of village life’, the Bell has a wonderfully welcoming feeling where old and new faces happily sit enjoying the wide selection of well-kept real ales and fantastic wines. In the two bars downstairs, one panelled in oak wood with an open fire and the other set on an original flagstone floor, you will note a healthy bias toward several local breweries, and over twenty wines available by the glass that compliment a broad, high quality wine list offering exceptional value.
There’s no shortage of wonderful walks and views in the surrounding area such as Chafford Gorges Nature Park, activities and areas of interest such as Hadleigh Castle and Tilbury Fort and the area around Horndon on the Hill has more than its fair share of screen time. From Four Weddings and a Funeral to Wonder Woman and Paddington there aren’t many genres, eras or heroes that haven’t happened upon Thurrock, Tilbury or Essex as a whole in recent our recent history.
Finally, in our third ‘Have we got views for you’ series, we make a pit-stop on South Eastern coast and The Lamb Inn, Wartling. Owner, James Braxton is something of a television celebrity himself and occasional presenter of the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip.
Set above the Pevensey Levels next to Wartling church, the 16th century Lamb Inn is perfect for weekend walkers and cyclists exploring the coast and South Downs.
You can expect a warm welcome, with log fires, original artwork, brass candle sticks, interesting antiques and an extensive vinyl record collection. The excellent selection of wines include action finds, as well as local beers and craft ales, some of which are brewed by the Brewing Brothers, a micro-brewery based in Hastings, owned by James’s sons.
Head Chef, Matt Pask, and his team are famed for their fish and venison pies and signature herb crust slow cooked lamb with dauphinoise potatoes; during the summer months, the outdoor stone courtyard plays host to a wood-fired oven serving roasted lobster and succulent lamb.
During the Coronavirus, the pub with rooms has become a high-end village shop selling delicious, fresh, local produce and of course, and excellent wine list. When the Government advises it is safe to do so and the hospitality industry comes out of lockdown, the Braxton family have taken the decision to full-hire its six rooms with en-suite to individual social bubbles. It means that family groups or friend groups can hire the whole premises and enjoy some five-star social distancing. The food & beverage team will also provide the menu, wines, spirits and beers to order, to really enhance a special occasion.
With the Seven Sisters on its doorstep and many Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) it is no surprise that this region has been the backdrop to many a blockbuster or bingeworthy boxset. It has everything from wonderful countryside walks to fantastic beaches.
The glorious backdrop of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head have frequently doubled as The White Cliffs of Dover. Much of the 2015 feature film Mr Holmes, starring Sir Ian McKellen as the retired Sherlock Holmes, sliding into early dementia. Various scenes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) were shot there and the final scenes of Atonement (2007) Starring James McAvoy as Robbie and Keira Knightly as Cecilia as the doomed lovers.