Northern Star Jamie Dornan
on celebrity life and his love for Belfast...
Northern Star Jamie Dornan tells us about his celebrity life and his love for Belfast...
Read Dream Escape's interview page 26WELCOME
Northern Star Jamie Dornan
on celebrity life and his love for Belfast...
Northern Star Jamie Dornan tells us about his celebrity life and his love for Belfast...
Read Dream Escape's interview page 26WELCOME
DAVID TOBIN OWNER AND DIRECTOR –
SPRING 2023 | ISSUE 09
12 – We preview the best of spring’s many events, including Cheltenham Festival’s racing action, the cultural delights of the Tartan exhibition at the V&A Dundee, the excitement of the Chelsea Flower Show, and the showstopper – the coronation of His Majesty The King
22 – Read about the ultimate in new luxurious experiences, such as the refurbished designer suites at Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, a Grade-II-listed boutique hotel in Kent, as well as a Michelin-starred dining weekend in Suffolk and a newly launched village on the Daylesford Estate
26 – Belfast boy turned international actor Jamie Dornan exclusively chats to Dream Escape about why the Northern Ireland capital will always be home, and offers up hot tips for first-time visitors to the city
32 – We take a fascinating tour of Hampton Court Palace Gardens with its head gardener Graham Dillamore, who has been responsible for royal gardens for over 40 years
40 – Intrigued by Scottish kilts? Take a look behind the scenes with the man who revolutionised the traditionally tartan concept with his novel creations made from denim, tweed or leather: Howie Nicholsby, fourth-generation kilt maker →
48 – Delve deeper into The Newt, Somerset’s no-expensespared 800-acre horticultural playground, where you can relax in the luxurious hotel, learn how to make cyder, or just explore the magnificent gardens on an exclusive tour
60 – We don’t like to play favourites when it comes to gorgeous Irish gardens, but we managed to curate 10 of the best for your perusal, many with splendid castles, fascinating histories and opportunities for exclusive visits
66 – We chat to executive chef of Lancashire’s Michelinstarred country hotel Northcote, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, about her inspirations in the kitchen, the prestigious global food festival – Obsession – hosted at Northcote, and a brand-new restaurant in the works
72 – All the joys of the season are here for your delectation, whether you wish to drive a classic sports car through the Scottish Highlands, learn afternoon tea etiquette in London or spend a day at Cheltenham Races
78 – We meet Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll, at her home Inveraray Castle in western Scotland on the shores of Loch Fyne and learn about the top-secret Downton Abbey filming there, and what you can experience on your own all-exclusive stay with Dream Escape
84 – You can’t take a trip to Dorset or Devon without a jaunt to the mighty Jurassic Coast. Apart from its geological wonders, this region is home to excellent restaurants, luxurious accommodation and breathtaking beaches
90 – How are you feeling? We know just the place (or several) to help you unwind, whether it be some rejuvenation in an Irish castle near woodlands, gazing at Scottish starry skies or pampering at a Hampshire spa
92 – We can certainly find you a fine fortress or two in Wales. Some Welsh castles come with poetic associations, others with medieval deer parks or dramatic ‘floating’ bridges, all have extraordinary histories
98 – Dream Escape’s Client Relationship Managers and founts of knowledge Rosie Peattie and Sally Strange, both Blue Badge Guides, look ahead to David Hockney’s forthcoming exhibition, anticipate the pomp and splendour of King Charles’ coronation, and extol the virtues of Scottish castles ⬥
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PUBLISHED BY –Contista Media
Contract publishers for the UK travel and tourism industry contistamedia.co.uk
Leading luxury travel design company and destination specialist dreamescape.co.uk
David founded Dream Escape with Holly in 2005. Based in Edinburgh, their vision was to create once-in-a-lifetime trips and events for a select group of well-travelled and discerning clients. David's previous marketing career included roles at ITV, Saatchi & Saatchi and Carat, where he worked across a wide range of clients. Prior to starting Dream Escape he was a Board Director at MediaCom London and Scotland, responsible for Audi UK and The Scottish Executive. David is a keen cyclist, and across the last few years has cycled around the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland and the North Coast 500 in Scotland, raising money for various charities supporting people living with cancer ⬥
Who inspires you? “I have found inspiration from a variety of people, ranging from Ernest Shackleton and David Attenborough to the composer John Williams.”
Sue brings over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and event management in the UK and Ireland travel industry. Sue started her career working for a leading luxury tour operator in London before enjoying 15 years at Tourism Ireland, where she was responsible for various marketing and communications campaigns for the consumer, travel trade, golf, and business tourism sectors. Having moved to the British Virgin Islands in 2011 with her family, she is no stranger to high-end travel experiences, the great outdoors and an odd hurricane or two! ⬥
Thoughts on this time of year?: “Spring is one of my favourite seasons in the UK and Ireland. There is something about the longer days, the woodlands filled with glorious bluebells, spectacular displays of golden daffodils and the cute rambling lambs bouncing around in the fields, that makes me want to get out there and enjoy every moment.”
Holly started her career at Carlson Marketing in Singapore after completing her Business & Psychology MA in Edinburgh. After a few years in London working at various advertising agencies, including TBWA, she moved to Edinburgh. Holly is passionate about travel and has a wealth of knowledge, having travelled extensively, including overlanding from India and Nepal back to England. As well as enjoying as much time as she can with her family, Holly would love to complete more charity challenges and get to some of the far-flung places on the map that have always been on her list to visit ⬥
What experience has recently inspired you? “I had an incredibly special holistic wellness experience at Heckfield Place. It gave me a moment to pause and contemplate the true meaning of wellness and realise how important these rare windows of true relaxation and reflection are.”
A charming country estate set on 850 acres in the breath-taking Perthshire countryside. With country pursuits, world-class golf courses and outdoor activities. A luxurious escape for friends. A cosy couples’ retreat. A home from home.
From the rolling hills and glens of Perthshire to the Scottish capital.
Our first city hotel, all-day restaurant, rooftop bar and members’ club in the heart of Edinburgh.
Acclaimed chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen could have been forgiven for feeling daunted when she took on a Michelin-starred restaurant at the age of just 23. Yet nearly two decades later she remains
at the top of her game at Lancashire’s Northcote – and even holds the prestigious Chef of the Year title awarded by the Cateys, the hospitality sector’s Oscars. Lisa talks to Dream Escape about handling the pressure and keeping her menus fresh.
See page 66 ⬥
Howie Nicholsby has worn a kilt every day since he was 21. The fourth-generation kilt maker made a stir in the tradition world of Scottish Highland dress when he launched his own design for the famed garment. Today he cuts a dash as he celebrates the launch of the House of Kilt Making, which unites his own 21st Century Kilts with the traditional family business that his father Geoff retired from recently. The man who has enticed countless international celebrities to wear Scotland’s national dress welcomes Dream Escape to his showroom at the heart of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
See page 40 ⬥
Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll, is the chatelaine of Inveraray Castle, on the shores of Loch Fyne, in the Scottish Highlands. She married Torquhil, the 13th Duke, in 2002 and they have three children: Archie, Rory and Charlotte. Dream Escape clients can take over the castle for exclusive stays, which includes a private tour with Eleanor. Alongside Inveraray, she is kept busy as a patroness of the Royal Caledonian Ball, president of the Georgian Group and a board member of the Historical Houses Association.
See page 78
25 March–13 August 2023| Spring’s art season explodes with a colour-drenched modern art show at London’s National Gallery. Spanning 1884 to 1914 iconic works include pieces by Cézanne, Van Gogh and other French masters alongside equally avant-garde paintings by artists from Barcelona to Berlin.
14–17 March 2023
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style at the Cheltenham Festival, where jockeys and their horses race for the Anglo-Irish trophy, the Prestbury Cup, as well as the next day’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Watch the action from a Chez Roux private box, where Irish-inspired dishes are on the menu.
18 March–1 October 2023
There’s a new way to explore Chatsworth House this season. As the stately 17thcentury home combines contemporary design with its historic objets d’art. See pieces by acclaimed designers, such as Ettore Sottsass' glass-and-polished-aluminiumwire vase on antique furniture in the Great Chamber. Discover hot new talent like Swissbased Ini Archibong, whose blue-steeland-glass chandelier (pictured) shimmers between the dining room and sculpture gallery. More are in the garden.
15 March–2 April 2023
Prepare to be entertained at this year’s comedy festival in Glasgow. While there are stand-up shows with familiar and new faces – including Strictly Come Dancing and Loose Women star, Kaye Adams – try to sample some of the more surprising acts. For example, there's the outrageous Japanese foodand-wine tasting evening with drag queen Vanity von Glow and sommelier Beth Brickenden. Enjoy the festivities and city to the max, with a suite stay at Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel. ⬥
24–26 March 2023
Celebrate poet and writer Dylan Thomas at the lively Laugharne Weekend of literature, music and comedy. Based in Laugharne, on the south coast of Wales, where Thomas lived in a boathouse, this year’s jamboree includes award-winning novelists Jim Crace, Cardiff poet Peter Finch, as well as Free Love’s Tessa Hadley. See the view over the River Taf estuary that inspired Thomas’ Under Milk Wood at the Dylan Coastal Resort – its lux lodges include a hot tub. ⬥
3–5 March 2023
Better known as the home of golf, Fife – for this month – is the home of whisky. Scotland’s top malts are available for tasting at this bijou festival in the medieval town of Cupar. Join the opening dinner at the Lindores Abbey Distillery to explore local whisky flavours and local history (as ruins of a 12th-century abbey lie opposite.) For diehard golf lovers, see more of Fife and stay at Old Course Hotel St Andrews – with views over the Old Course. ⬥
5 March 2023| Celebrate Cornwall’s 5th-century patron saint who started the region’s mining heritage when he discovered white tin pouring from black rocks smelting by his fire. See the liveliest parades in Penzance or from Perranporth Beach. Redruth also hosts a craft market. Find a cosy pub to join the Trelawny Shout at 9pm, aka the mass singalong of the Cornish anthem.
20–22 April 2023| Rev up the social season at Salon Privé, London’s supercar shindig. Set on the lawns of the Chelsea Pensioners’ home, discover the latest Ferrari or McLaren model, or even the two-seater Praga Bohemia hypercar which tops 300km per hour. Classic cars are there too – to buy. Lunch at The Sloane for the gourmet experience.
14–16 April 2023
For top-notch Irish food, drink and hospitality, head to the harbour town of Dungarvan along Ireland’s southeast coast for its busy three-day West Waterfood Festival of Food. Take some culinary tips at masterclasses or demos from top chefs, such as Wade Murphy of Limerick’s popular 1826 Adare restaurant. There are also food trails that give the chance to explore local restaurants and landmarks, including The Tannery, a stone’s throw from the 13th-century Dungarvan Castle. ⬥
THE RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL, AINTREE RACECOURSE, LIVERPOOL
13–15 April 2023
Don a smart Savile Row suit or a statement Stephen Jones hat for this year’s Grand National. The fabled steeplechase on the last day of the festival sees horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. Watch this year’s runners from the new Art School restaurant, a pop up from one of Liverpool’s finest dining options, where a six-course tasting menu is served between each race, and where views include owners and trainers milling around the parade ring. ⬥
26 April–1 May 2023
Singer and songwriter Gregory Porter returns as artistic curator to this legendary jazz festival. Expect exciting newcomers, including Jazz FM’s 2020 breakthrough act; saxophonist and flautist Xhosa Cole; and Fergus McCreadie, whose latest chart-topping album, Forest Floor, won 2022’s Scottish Album of the Year Award. Keep the cool vibe going and dine nearby at the twoMichelin-starred French restaurant, Le Champignon Sauvage. ⬥
1 April 2023–14 January 2024| Head to the V&A Dundee for its sprawling exhibition on tartan – Scotland’s famed cloth with its repeated check-like patterns that symbolise clan kinship. Wardrobes have been rifled from the V&A’s own archives, and the exhibit features pieces from Alexander McQueen, Dior, and tartan treasures from the public. Explore tartan’s versatility across architecture, product design and more.
5 April–8 October 2023
While we wait for Bridgerton’s season three on Netflix, London’s palaces reveal the real Georgian style from 1714 to 1830. On display at The Queen's Gallery, Queen Charlotte as she looked during her lifetime, painted contemporaneously by Allan Ramsay in 1760–1. Snuffboxes and other fashionable items are displayed for the first time. Plus, compare the flamboyant court clothes from the Georgian era with today’s red-carpet glamour at Kensington Palace. ⬥
6 April–24 September 2023
For a poetic, yet sensual art experience, visit Tate Britain’s first retrospective of 19th-century PreRaphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His radical work is displayed alongside that of his sister, the writer Christina Rossetti, and his muse and later wife Elizabeth Siddal. Take his early controversial Annunciation, depicting Mary in bed. Overshadowed by her husband and other painters she modelled for (such as posing for John Everett Millais’ Ophelia), Siddal’s fine watercolours and drawings are a highlight. ⬥
22–27 May 2023
The vibrant Chelsea Flower Show signals summer with its lush show gardens, sanctuaries and packed pavilion. Consider the fauna and flora international garden that mirrors a gorilla trek in Africa’s Virunga Mountains, including a gorilla nest and waterfall. Then there’s a Korean herbal garden with rare plants. Spot outdoor artworks, such as the bent-steel sculpture adorning the Sadler’s Wells East space, celebrating the new theatre opening next year. Look smart in a blazer or Maison Michel straw hat. ⬥
10–14 May 2023
Known for colourful shots of life around Britain, Martin Parr is this year’s Master of Photography, with an exhibition at international photo fair Photo London. Top international galleries exhibiting include the Peter Fetterman Gallery from Santa Monica, California whose artist roster ranges from Cecil Beaton to Danny Lyon; and London’s Atlas Gallery, which represents Nan Goldin, among others. First timers include Tehran’s O Gallery, which will present images of Iran’s 1979 Revolution by Kaveh Kazemi. ⬥
Until 20 August 2023| Spend time at this absorbing retrospective, spanning five decades of political films and video installations by top British artist Sir Isaac Julien. A founder of Black independent cinema in Britain, Sir Isaac has many seminal works, such as 1989’s Looking for Langston about Black queer desire. It’s Britain’s first survey of his work.
6 May 2023
Pagentry, ceremony and hopefully a balcony appearance is anticipated for the King’s coronation. See the King and Queen Consort ride in the 18th-century Gold State Coach to and from Westminster Abbey – where Charles III will be anointed with holy oil, crowned with St Edward’s crown and given the orb, ring and other sovereignty symbols to formalise his regal power. Other traditional objects include the Robe Royal made for George IV’s coronation in 1821. ⬥
26–27 May| With a stake called the Height of Fashion and a glam location near the Duke of Richmond’s Goodwood Home, the May Festival is the chicest way to spend the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. Don a linen suit, a Panama hat or a chic Vampire’s Wife floral midi dress and enjoy the flowing Veuve Cliquot Champagne.
29 May–3 August 2022
Idyllically located in a Cotswolds’ village is the intimate Longborough Festival Opera. Set in the grounds of the founders’ home in a converted barn, this year’s festival presents four varied operas.
Richard Wagner’s Norse-inspired fantasy, Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) kicks off the programme. More lighthearted performances include Gaetano Donizetti's popular comedy L'Elisir d'Amore (The Elixir of Love).
Picnic in the grounds or marquee during the 90-minute dining interval. ⬥
11–14 May 2023
There is more royal razzamatazz at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, where royals attend – and compete. Find the action in Windsor Castle’s grounds. Watch showjumping and dressage events, but don’t miss the military spectaculars, as the Household Cavalry performs manoeuvres to music and so do the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery – who also fire salutes. Nab a room with far-reaching views of the polo fields from across the estate bridge at nearby Coworth Park. ⬥
26–27 May 2023
Experience Northern Ireland’s lively local music scene at the Master McGrath Festival. Based in the grounds of 19th-century Brownlow House in Lurgan (a town in County Armagh), explore fresh parts of Northern Ireland too. Country music is the festival’s focus, with tribute bands to Oasis and other famous groups too. Camp on site. Or stay in classic style at the picturesque Coach House Boutique B&B in nearby Dromore. ⬥
MAKE THE MOST OF THE SEASON WITH TIME SPENT IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE. A GEORGIAN FAMILY HOME LOVINGLY RESTORED TO ITS HISTORIC ORIGINS, HECKFIELD PLACE IS AT THE HEART OF A BOUNTIFUL 438 ACRE ESTATE WITH A RAFT OF THINGS TO DO FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.
ALL JUST AN HOUR FROM LONDON.
Take to THE GREAT OUTDOORS for the adventure of WILD SWIMMING IN OUR LOWER LAKE or amble away the afternoon with a PICNIC LUNCH IN THE PLEASURE GROUNDS before making the most of country pursuits like FALCONRY, FISHING, CLAY PIGEON SHOOTING and ROW BOATING.
Discover our working estate with a wander THROUGH OUR WALLED GARDENS and down TO HOME FARM before experiencing the excitement of FOOD SERVED STRAIGHT FROM THE EARTH in Skye Gyngell’s GREEN MICHELIN-STARRED MARLE and OPEN-FIRED HEARTH restaurants.
Or simply SLOW DOWN to discover THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE through time spent at THE BOTHY, our new home of wellbeing OPENING SPRING 2023.
All just a whisper from some of England’s most well-known sites like Windsor Castle, Stone Henge, Highclere Castle, Jane Austen’s house and more.
UNEARTH, RECONNECT AND REDISCOVER AT HECKFIELD PLACE.
After the overwhelming success of last year, the Wilderness Reserve in rural Suffolk will host some of the best chefs in the world for another weekend of culinary wizardry between 19 and 22 May 2023. The gastronomy event, Yoxman, will entail three nights covering all meals during the weekend, Champagne and whisky tastings, yoga and sound healing, entertainment and drinks, transfers around the reserve, and question-and-answer sessions with Michelin-star chefs, including Michel and Emily Roux, Angela Hartnett and José Pizarro. Prices range from around £2,750 per bedroom (for two people) and up to £16,000 for larger properties (sleeping up to 16 people). Please enquire with Dream Escape for further information. ⬥
Originally built in 1616, Boys Hall is a Grade-IIlisted property that has been painstakingly restored by husband-and-wife team, Bradley and Kristie Lomas, into a luxurious boutique hotel. Stay in one of the ten individual grand suites, smell sweet spring scents from the rose garden and enjoy the chef's specials using produce from their very own kitchen garden, including the hall’s own honey produced by their beehives.
If you are looking for a new gin to try for 2023 then we have three fabulous suggestions, two homegrown in the UK from the Isle of Skye, 57˚ Skye Earth & Sea Spirits and Jaisalmer Gold.
There’s a newly launched village on the Daylesford Estate offering guests access to the wonderful experiences available at Daylesford Organic Farm, just a stone’s throw away. You can enjoy the award-winning sustainable farm shop, Cookery School classes, floristry workshops, winetastings and access to the holistic Bamford Wellness Spa. The hamlet of 15 Cotswold cottages, tucked in the 2,500-acre Daylesford Estate launched by Carole Bamford, is available to rent in its entirety or as individual self-catered cottages. Daylesford Village also allows guests exclusive access to two sister pubs: The Wild Rabbit, where they can enjoy the à la carte menu as well as private dining; and The Fox at Oddington with its delicious pub menu. ⬥
11 March to 10 September 2023
The coronation of George IV in 1821 was colourful and contentious: outrageously expensive, with a Queen Consort refused entry to the ceremony, and hosting the last-ever coronation feast. Original costumes, portraits, ephemera and a room created for a king all feature in this story of vanity, royalty and loss. This walkthrough display celebrates the accession to the throne by one of the most extravagant British kings, to coincide with the excitement around the coronation of King Charles III in May 2023. ⬥
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, located in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath has not only unveiled their newly refurbished designer suites, but they have launched exclusive flights for two in the hotel's own balloon. The new experience allows for an intimate and sensory view of Bath. Taking flight above the city you get the chance to see all the major landmarks and Georgian architecture from the comfort and tranquillity of the hot-air balloon, before finishing off the flight with a glass of Taittinger Champagne. Luxury doesn't stop on your arrival back to the hotel, where you can sit among the quiet Royal Crescent gardens with an afternoon tea for two and another glass of Champagne, or spend the afternoon relaxing in The Spa & Bath House, followed by an overnight stay in one of their luxurious rooms or suites.⬥
Coinneach MacLeod (known as The Hebridean Baker or simply @hebrideanbaker to his 251,000 TikTok followers and 107,000 Instagram followers) is a baking sensation. Dream Escape are delighted he is now serving up a fresh selection of exciting new recipes and charming stories with stunning photography from the Hebridean Islands in his brand new cookbook. Here, he shares recipes filled with tradition, Scottish flavours and local ingredients – including hearty dishes and comforting desserts, delicious cakes and even perfect biscuits to dunk in your tea. The book is jampacked with stories behind the recipes too; some from Coinneach, others he has persuaded friends and family to share. It is time to get the oven on and choose your first recipe.⬥
There's a song by Van Morrison called Coney Island,' " Jamie Doran reminds me. “One day, when I was filming the first series of The Fall, just over 11 years ago, a mate of mine, Michael Malley, and I went round every single place that Van Morrison mentions in that song and we tried to do whatever it was he said in the lyrics.” Sitting between the villages of Ardglass and Killough on the Ards Peninsula, 'Coney Island is more coastal strip than island, but no less beautiful than the evocative song suggests. “So we stopped off at Ardglass, had potted herrings and managed to get to all of the places that he mentions.” Van uses poetic licence in the sequencing of his journey, so Jamie’s trip didn't work out exactly as the song. “But we would pull the car over and stop anyone we saw walking around and just ask some questions and tell them what we're doing and why we were there. It's so beautiful around there and I think very fondly of that part of the world.”
We’re chatting over Zoom – me from Dublin, Jamie from his home in England, which he shares with his wife, composer Amelia Warner, and their three
daughters. “I've been here [in the UK] 21 years but Belfast will always be home. I will always call it home. Does that mean that I return as much as I’d like to? Probably not. But the reality of that is rooted in having three young kids and my life is set up in the UK. But I try to work there as much as I can and I’ll try to do that for as long as people are willing to give me a career.”
To date, Dornan’s 22-year career has taken him from Calvin Klein model to global screen star, with leading roles in movies and TV series including the 50 Shades →
always be home
trilogy, A Private War and current hit series The Tourist alongside crime drama The Fall, and 2021 movie Belfast, the latter two both set in Dornan’s hometown.
“My favourite thing to do in Belfast is to drive around. Whether that's with friends or on my own. I love driving around, taking it all in.” His town has changed radically since Jamie left for university in England, and Stranmillis, a suburb of south Belfast, holds special nostalgia. “I went to school in Methody [Methodist College Belfast] and boarded there for the final two years. Stranmillis is a very middle class little enclave of Belfast; the Lagan runs through the bottom and you can walk down there. When we shot the third series of The Fall, I lived in a house there, so I have both good and slightly emotional memories of us at the end of that job that sort of changed my life.”
His last trip home, in October 2022, was for a memorial service for his father, who died unexpectedly in 2021 from complications of COVID-19. (Jamie’s mum died from pancreatic cancer when he was just 16.) Many friends travelled from abroad to support Jamie and his two sisters, including his agent from LA and best friend from Toronto. For many, it was their first time to visit
anywhere in Ireland. “The reasons we were there were sad but after the ceremony at St Anne’s Cathedral it was a real celebration of life. We took over a pub, the Dark Horse,
which was just filled with people who knew and loved Dad and who knew and loved us. It was a proper shindig, really fun, and all the Americans, Canadians and others
“ My favourite thing to do in Belfast is to drive around. Whether that's with friends or on my own. I love driving around, taking it all in.
got a real good sense of the place, which was very pleasing.” He recalls the buzz his visitors experienced in The Cathedral Quarter with its stylish hotels and smart places to get a cocktail. “It's a proper cosmopolitan European experience that they're having, which makes you proud.”
A self-professed foodie, Jamie’s favourite meal is still traditional Irish bacon, champ and buttered cabbage, a dish his dad used to make. “I'm just not sure I could be more satisfied from a meal,” he laughs, reminiscing on the large feed he cooked for himself last week. He enjoys eating out and counts Michelin-starred chef, Michael Deane, as a friend. “Michael was very close to my father, so I often end up eating in his places.” Originally from Holywood, in Co Down, Jamie rates Noble, ‘a great wee restaurant’ there, and while he avoids bars on the weekend, (where he gets ‘a wee bit tortured’ by fans) he finds eating out easier. “It takes a lot for someone to
come and interrupt you when you’re in the middle of a meal. I’m not saying they don’t do it, though!” he grins.
“There’s three Michelin stars in Belfast now,” he declares, excitedly. “It's absolutely brilliant and it caters for all the tourism, which has obviously gone up a million-fold since the Good Friday Agreement. When you think of all the productions in my game working over there, there's a reason why the Americans love it, you know, and love coming over to film stuff there. You can live in the utmost civilisation, really nice apartments overlooking the river or lovely townhouses in leafy South Belfast. And you can have all that and Michelinstarred food and just easiness. But then you can jump in the car and you’re half an hour to mountainous vistas and 20 minutes to the coast. It’s endless.”
He talks of ‘bigwig producers’ in LA who light up talking about Belfast, of endlessly inspiring landscapes and the area’s →
film-set-like accessibility. He acknowledges the number of productions happening there each year and how different life is for an actor in Belfast today than when he left 21 years ago. “It's a great thing to be showing Northern Ireland differently to how it's been depicted before in film and TV. And, whether that be through Game of Thrones or Derry Girls, they're both shifting people's idea of the place; the outside world's idea of the place and in a positive way.”
Jamie doesn’t just return to Belfast for work. One of his sisters lives in Crawfordsburn and he has a group of childhood friends he is still close to. When home, he enjoys swimming in the sea by his sister’s home in Helen’s Bay, walking the Lagan Towpath with friends and taking his kids to Seapark in Holywood, where he was born. “I make
a point of going there every time I’m home. It's amazing seeing the girls walk along that stretch of beach that I know so well. I grew up literally on the water and it breaks me to see them playing there. I love it. I feel like I know every curve and inch of that place and to see them playing there, it's so unbelievable for me.”
An avid golfer, he admits he’s mildly obsessed with the game. “What they say about men thinking about sex every seven seconds, well, I think about golf every seven seconds! It's an endless love affair, a pursuit, because you'll never get it right. Even the number one player in the world [Rory McIlroy], who is from the same town as me, is still striving to get it right all the time.”
He’s been a member of Royal Belfast Golf Club since
he was 10 and loves playing Royal Portrush too. “It's pretty special there and on most people's bucket lists worldwide, as well as Royal County Down. Someone once asked where I’d play if I only had one game left on earth. I’ve played some amazing courses around the world but I actually said Royal Belfast because it's where I've so many memories forged from a very young age.”
So, where would Jamie send friends if they came to visit for the first time?
“There are obvious places, like up the North Coast if they've never been up to Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and all that good stuff. We’ve brought the kids up there and while they were too young to do Carrick-a-Rede, we did the Causeway. They walked around with their wee headsets on listening to the stories of Finn McCool. And it was brilliant.”
Of course, he’ll recommend you start with Belfast first, and it’s hard to argue with this local boy done good.Holly Mackie, Owner and Director
I haven’t lived in Northern Ireland for over 25 years but I can relate to so many of the places Jamie mentions. I too love returning with my own family and taking them to special places that bring back so many happy memories – it still feels like home”
“ We’ve brought the kids up there and while they were too young to do Carrick-a-Rede, we did the Causeway. They walked around with their wee headsets on listening to the stories of Finn McCool. And it was brilliant.”
Having looked after royal gardens for over 40 years, Graham Dillamore is now responsible for some of the most magnificent palace gardens in the country. Here, he shows Dream Escape around the world-famous gardens at Hampton Court Palace, where he is head gardener, and reveals his plans for the stunning tulip festival taking place there this spring
Dramatically positioned on the banks of the River Thames, around 12 miles upstream of central London, Hampton Court Palace is one of the most significant and spectacular historical buildings in the world. Its famed red-brick façade, towering gatehouse and decorative chimneys are a staggeringly beautifully sight, and crossing its imposing threshold is like taking a step back in time.
First established by Cardinal Wolsey in the early
16th century, this remarkably well-preserved palace is renowned for being the home of Henry VIII, his famous wives, and the colourful world of the Tudor court. Today, visitors can wander through the notorious king’s Great Hall and admire his magnificent tapestries, while the sprawling palace kitchens will instantly transport you back to the heyday of lavish Tudor feasts. Elsewhere, the Grand Staircase leads up to William III's splendid State Apartments, and beyond the palace walls a further time warp awaits... →
Previous page: Graham Dillamore, Head Gardener at Hampton Court Palace This page, left to right: The Pond Gardens at Hampton Court Palace; Privy Garden Fountain Next page: Tulip Festival at Hampton Court Palace
Last page, left to right: The Great Fountain Garden at Hampton Court Palace; The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace
Hampton Court Palace’s worldfamous gardens encompass a staggering 60 acres of spectacular formal gardens and 750 acres of parkland. They are home to the world's oldest puzzle maze, a record-breaking grape vine, a historic kitchen garden, three National Plant Collections and a huge variety of wildlife, including descendants of Henry VIII’s deer herd, but more than anything else, they are teeming with history.
The responsibility for maintaining all this comes down to one very safe pair of green-fingered hands: those of head gardener, Graham Dillamore.
Over the course of his career, Graham has overseen many a regal patch. Back in 1980, when he was just 16 years old, he began working as an apprentice in London’s Royal Parks. In 1985, he became head gardener at Kensington Palace before going to work for The Royal Household, where he took on the significant responsibility of tending to the then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s private garden for over five years. Eager for a bigger plot, he made the move to Hampton Court Palace in 1990, where today his role involves coordinating and overseeing everything that goes on in the gardens not only on a day-to-day basis, but also week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year.
“I really like gardens with history and heritage. Working in a garden that has been there for hundreds of years and following in the footsteps of other gardeners has always been very appealing to me,” Graham explains to Dream Escape when we meet.
“I’ve never been the kind of gardener who wants to change everything,
instead I’ve always been interested in conservation and preserving what we already have, as well as going back in time to understand what went on before.”
The gardens at Hampton Court contain many remarkable highlights, such as William III and Mary II’s Great Fountain Garden on the East Front, complete with 13 beautiful fountains and its signature mushroom-shaped yew trees. There’s also the elegant Long Water – a beautiful stretch of water completed in 1660 by King Charles II as a wedding present for his bride-to-be, Catherine of Braganza, but Graham’s very first project was to restore one of the most significant parts of the garden back to its former baroque glory. Using archaeology reports and historical gardening records, Graham and his
team spent two years meticulously recreating William III's Privy Garden –the King’s magnificent private garden –to exactly as it was in 1702.
“One of the things we always try to do at Hampton Court is connect the garden with the palace itself. Our philosophy is that gardens and palaces should be as one,” Graham explains, as we stroll through the Privy Gardens.
“So here, we’ve used authentic plant varieties, spacing, statues – even the topiary heights and shapes are accurate. You can stand here and see it exactly as it was in 1702. It’s a bit like a time capsule,” he explains.
“It is without doubt the greatest recreated baroque garden in the UK, and I am incredibly proud of it. It is a real jewel in our crown.” →
“ It is without doubt the greatest recreated baroque garden in the UK, and I am incredibly proud of it. It is a real jewel in our crown. ”
Another of the garden’s many jewels is the Great Vine, which is a staggering 255 years old and the largest in the world. In the summer, its grapes are sold in the palace giftshop, giving visitors the rare opportunity to try its historic fruit, which was once a favourite of Queen Victoria, no less.
“The grapes are a very old variety called Black Hamburg, they are a really tasty dessert grape. Just imagine eating fruit from a plant that was planted in 1768. And what a taste!” he beams.
Next, we visit the beautiful Pond Gardens, which in Henry VIII’s time were just as they are – vast ponds, filled with carp and bream for the table. In the 1690s, Mary II transformed them into sunken gardens so that she could display her exotic plant collection, and although their purpose may have changed over time, their essence remains the same.
“The gardens here may have developed over the years, but each
time a gardener or architect came to change things, they always had respect for what had gone before. So now, the gardens very much respect the history of the place and pay tribute to all the previous gardeners that have worked here,” Graham explains.
“That’s what makes Hampton Court so special. Henry VIII could have been standing right here with his hands on this very wall, so one minute you’re touching something from the 1530s, and the next something from 1690. It’s like walking through all these different periods of time, and my mission in life is to preserve all that.”
One of Graham’s other significant responsibilities is the garden at London’s Kensington Palace, which is also looked after by Historic Royal Palaces. The birthplace of Queen Victoria and home to young royals for over 300 years, today it is a popular visitor destination and the official London residence of TRH The Prince →
“ That’s what makes Hampton Court so special. Henry VIII could have been standing right here with his hands on this very wall, so one minute you’re touching something from the 1530s, and the next something from 1690. It’s like walking through all these different periods of time, and my mission in life is to preserve all that. ”
and Princess of Wales. It is also where Graham recently oversaw the transformation of The Sunken Garden, which Diana, Princess of Wales was particularly fond of. To mark the 20th anniversary of her death in 2017, Graham and his team transformed the space into The White Garden in her memory.
“That project was a real highlight for me. It’s not big, it’s not grand, it’s just really lovely, and it’s something that’s going to be there forever,” he explains.
“To be a part of that, and to be there at the moment when the princes unveiled
her statue, gosh that was very special, and very emotional.”
Back at Hampton Court, Graham has plans to resurrect another period from its horticultural history. Towards the end of 17th century, William III and Mary II began importing tulip bulbs from the Netherlands, and by the time Queen Victoria opened the gardens to the public in the 1820s, people would come from miles around to see the palace’s splendid tulip displays.
“It became a real destination for a day out, and we want to celebrate that again,” Graham explains.
Last winter, the gardening team worked tirelessly to plant a whopping 110,000 tulip bulbs throughout the gardens, including some rare and historic varieties, and in April this year Hampton Court Palace is hosting a truly glorious tulip festival.
“We’ve planted the bulbs in flowerbeds all around the gardens, and each area has a different theme and story as to why we’ve chosen that bulb and that colour scheme,” Graham explains.
“We’ve got traditional mass planting and I am also bringing more tulips into the courtyards as well, much to
“ We’ve planted the bulbs in flowerbeds all around the gardens, and each area has a different theme and story as to why we’ve chosen that bulb and that colour scheme. ”
the housekeeper’s disdain. I’ve been planting bulbs in all sorts of things – wheelbarrows, pots, troughs. We want to offer visitors something a bit different.”
Speaking of which, as part of the event Graham will be giving the palace’s famous 14ft wine fountain a fabulous floral makeover.
“We’re going to cover it in tulips, and we’ve gone for deep red wine colours – maroons and burgundies, even jet black. We’ve also got a tulip variety called Merlot, and a few rosé colours too.”
Next, Graham leads us through the palace nursery, past greenhouses and dozens of containers filled with eager bulbs, all covered in netting to provide protection from squirrels, and the palace cat...
“We’ve always had cats here and they’re always called Henry. I think we’re on Henry number 9 or 10,” he smiles.
Over the years, Hampton Court has also seen a succession of notable palace gardeners too, including none other than Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.
Now, it is Graham and the current garden team’s turn to take their place in history as part of this significant
“That thought makes me feel quite small really – I am just here in this little moment of time. I just don’t want to get anything wrong!” he laughs.
After the tulips have been and gone, there is a whole host of events planned at Hampton Court Palace this summer, ranging from flower festivals and jousting tournaments to classic-car shows, music concerts and more. And all the while, Graham is constantly planting, pruning and planning in order to make sure that the gardens look their very best now, and in the future, while always remaining considerate of both Mother Nature, and what has come before.
“You can see when a garden is at peace with itself and when it’s relaxed –it has that atmosphere and look about it,” Graham explains.
“I like to work in partnership with the landscape here. I never chase it or force it, and I’ll never try and artificially improve the gardens for a certain moment or style. It is a real, growing, evolving, developing garden, and each part of it has a wonderful story that goes on and moves forward, gently”.
The Tulip Festival heralds the arrival of spring and a promise of summer just around the corner. Visiting the magnificent gardens of Hampton Court Palace is quite literally walking in the footsteps of famous kings, lovelorn queens, mourning monarchs and poorly princes. Oh, what conversations those age-old yew trees would have been privy to. To experience these gardens in their restored glory is truly breathtaking.”
The swing of a kilt is as intrinsically Scottish as whisky or bagpipes, but tartan is not the only option. Dream Escape meets the man who revolutionised the kilt world at his workshop in Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile
Nothing says Scotland more than tartan, with its colourful patterns and evocative links to the clans. For Scottish men, it’s a rite of passage to get married in a kilt, some will even receive one as a coming-of-age gift, and tradition has it that you wear your family tartan.
Howie Nicholsby comes from family of kilt makers, but in the late 1990s he shocked the traditional world of tartan with his new take on a kilt. His kilts – in denim, tweed or leather – are hardwearing, practical and you don’t need to have a Scottish name to wear one.
In fact, Howie loves them so much that he hasn’t worn trousers for more than two decades. “I made the decision to wear a kilt every day at the age of 21 and it became an extremely tangible part of my life,” says the fourth-generation kilt maker, who made his first kilt in PVC, and set up 21st Century Kilts to market his own designs in 1996.
When you meet Howie he is likely to be wearing one of his own designs, like the 10-year-old denim one he has on for Dream Escape’s visit.
“I don't think a pair of jeans would have lasted – or still be in fashion – like this great denim kilt,” he says and points to his grey kilt with its signature practical pockets, comfortable cut and the exclusive kilt pin which only comes as a part of a 21st Century Kilts package.
Although a pioneer of modern kilts, Howie is also fully invested in the traditional styles, and since his father Geoffrey retired has been revisiting his roots. He is back on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile in the family shop where he worked in his teens. Now called the House of Kilt Making, it incorporates the family’s Geoffrey (Tailor)
Kiltmaker business and Howie’s own 21st Century Kilts. Here Howie and his business partner John Webster can make your kilt dream come true.
And they have made many dreams come true over the years. Howie’s long list of famous clients include Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, Vin Diesel, Sam Heughan, Craig Ferguson and John McEnroe.
Spend any time with Howie and he’ll let slip a celeb nugget – like how after meeting Robbie Williams in the Royal Mile shop he got to hang out with him at his house in Los Angeles. He has also dressed many of the Grand Marshals for the annual New York Tartan Day Parade. In 2022 it was Karen Gillan, the Inverness-born star of the Marvel superhero films, and, in 2019, actor and comedian Sir Billy Connelly. →
‘ When you meet Howie he is likely to be wearing one of his own designs, like the 10-year-old denim one he has on for Dream Escape’s visit.’
Deciding to buy a kilt is not something you do lightly. It is an investment and takes time and careful consideration. “We want our clients to buy something that is going to last 20 years. That takes a wee bit of investment in time, as well as money, so it is worth coming here to our base and taking it all in and making the right decisions,” says Howie.
Customers are welcomed into the recently refurbished showroom, which is designed to encorporate both comfort and the practicalities of creating a kilt: an array of fabric sample books, sporrans, jackets, socks, skean dhu and kilt pins.
“We’re just guides,” explains Howie. “It’s a team effort to put an outfit together. It’s not just the kilt makers and tailors behind the scenes, we need to make sure customers choose the right thing. We, as the guides, need to show them pictures or fabric samples so they can visualise their kilt and how they will wear it.”
As each kilt is precision-made for an individual, Howie explains that you can’t just try one on. “The measurements are to a quarter of an inch, so even if we’ve got a kilt hanging there that you like, trying it on could have a negative effect if it’s ill-fitting and put you
He adds: “There’s a lot of trust involved. The person you go to to buy a kilt should be knowledgeable enough to be honest about what’s going to work for you.”
And Howie has some advice for any Dream Escape guests planning to invest in a kilt. “Make sure you have worn one. We don’t do a hire service any more but many firms do, so rent a kilt for a weekend and see how you get on.”
The experience and expertise that Howie and John have accumulated over the years has come from the many times they have created kilt outfits for satisfied customers.
From just a small number of measurements, a kilt is expertly crafted for the perfect fit by makers who learnt their skills with a five-year apprenticeship. But that is just the beginning: you need to make a choice about its fabric and then the accessories.
Many people will go for a family clan tartan, but nowadays there are plenty of other options, with designs developed for organisations and events. You could even have your own tartan created for you, and here Howie can help. He will use his aptitude for numerology to →
“ There’s a lot of trust involved. The person you go to to buy a kilt should be knowledgeable enough to be honest about what’s going to work for you.”
introduce personal details into the design of the fabric that will then be woven especially for you.
Howie will also guide you through the mysteries of what to wear with your kilt. Anyone unfamiliar with Scottish fashion, will not believe the number of options available to kilt wearers.
Where once there was the choice between the highly formal Prince Charlie or a tweed day jacket, which in turn determined your style of shirt, tie, socks, shoes and sporran, today it’s much more relaxed and almost anything goes.
Howie, in his denim jacket and boots, is a good example of how many Scots now wear their kilts: just as they please.
Whether it is a traditional tartan kilt or one of the 21st Century designs you are ordering, Howie and John ensure it is an exclusive experience and the new House of Kilt Making is the perfect home for them to work their magic.
As well as the smart studio where Dream Escape guests are welcomed for their appointment with a dram, in the front of the building is the bright workshop where the tailors can look out from their workbench on the crowds thronging the Royal Mile below.
Eight to 12 weeks after your fitting, the kilt will be ready and, although it can be shipped anywhere in the world, many clients take the chance to return to Edinburgh to see Howie, who has inevitably become your friend.
The intimate experience of making the choices involved in creating an item that will see you through some of the most important events in your adult life does tend to have that effect.
“ I made the decision to wear a kilt every day at the age of 21 and it became an extremely tangible part of my life...”
The kilt pin is a traditional accessory that complements a kilt and serves an important purpose by weighing down the front, thus protecting the wearer's modesty.
A kilt is more than just the garment. Traditional outfits will include a sporran, a skean dhu and a kilt pin. Mackenzie Leather, just off the Royal Mile in St Mary's Street, is one of the few places you will see a sporran being made. The front of the shop is a spacious showroom but in view, at the back, is the workshop where master crafters – using traditional skills – create a range of exclusive leather goods. Mackenzie’s sporrans are handmade and come in a range of colours to match your kilt. The Day sporran is simple, soft and supple, while the Oak design is made from oak-bark hide from the last oak tanner in the UK.
If you want to try wearing a kilt, Gordon Nicolson on the Royal Mile and McCalls Highlandwear on Leith Walk are respected hire companies. Nicolson's business, which grabbed the headlines in 2020 for making the kilt for StrictlyComeDancingcontestant
JJ Chalmers, opened in 2009 and has since expanded with a kilt-making academy and the takeover of the last handmade bagpipe maker in Edinburgh. McCalls has a much longer history, founded in 1887 in Aberdeen. It now has five shops across Scotland, as well as a traditional kilt-making factory in the Ochil Hills.
Although tartan has been around for hundreds of years, what we recognise today owes much to George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822, when Sir Walter Scott had him wear a kilt. The subsequent Victorian love affair with Scotland saw tartan become more standardised, with patterns linked to the clans. Edinburgh’s tailors were an important part of the rise of Highland dress, and many worked on the North and South Bridges beside the Royal Mile.William Anderson was one of them and his business, founded in 1868, has become an international brand. Kinloch Anderson first supplied the British royal family in 1903 and, now based in Leith, records its fascinating history in a treasure-filled heritage room beside its showroom.
The tradition of wearing a kilt pin was introduced during the reign of Queen Victoria, who is said to have removed her brooch and attached it to a soldier's kilt to weigh it down to prevent embarrassment after it blew up on a windy day at Balmoral Castle! Every kilt created by Howie includes his distinctive trademark lightning bolt kilt pins (only to be worn on his kilts), making them instantly recognisable anywhere in the world.
At The Newt in Somerset, spring has well and truly sprung. Dream Escape discovers all that this remarkable country estate has to offer, from its luxury hotel and world-famous gardens, to modern cyder making and more
WORDS | SOPHIE FARRAH
Nestled in the folds of South Somerset lies a nature lover’s paradise. A place where apples hang abundantly from the trees, walking trails weave through ancient woodlands, and ducks wander freely from pond to lake. Beautiful honey-stone buildings house a luxury hotel, spa, cyder press, garden cafe, farm shop and more, and there’s also an enchanted grotto and a fullsize Roman villa to explore. Welcome to The Newt.
Encompassing a staggering 800 acres, this historic West Country estate was acquired in 2013 by South African hotelier Karen Roos and her husband Koos Bekker. It took six years for them to transform The Newt into the spectacular destination that it is today, and in 2019 it finally opened its doors for all to enjoy. An ode to all things Somerset, this magnificent, no-expensespared horticultural playground celebrates everything that the county has to offer, and more.
Inspired by local heritage and sustainable agriculture, The Newt in Somerset is a working estate, and at the core of it all lies acres of truly magnificent gardens that have been lovingly tended to for over 250 years.
Dream Escape’s travel designers arrange exclusive garden tours, led by a member of the expert gardening team. As well as discovering the estate’s fascinating history and the vision that drives it today, tour highlights include a visit to the productive vegetable garden; an organic, no-dig operation that cultivates over 350 vegetables and salad varieties that supply the estate’s various dining options. Nearby, on the immaculate lawn directly in front of the historic Hadspen House (now part of The Newt’s luxury hotel), a serene waterlily-filled pond is home to the resident population of protected newts, which inspired the estate’s distinctive name. →
An ode to all things Somerset, this magnificent, no-expense-spared horticultural playground celebrates everything that the county has to offer, and more... inspired by local heritage and sustainable agriculture, The Newt in Somerset is a working estate, and at the core of it all lies acres of truly magnificent gardens that have been lovingly tended to for over 250 years.”
At the heart of the gardens is the remarkable parabola – a 3,000sqm walled garden filled with an immaculate baroquestyle maze of 460 perfectly trained apple trees, each divided by county and intermingled with seashell-strewn pathways, trickling streams, historically accurate planting, and freeroaming ducks. Elsewhere, there is a Japanese garden to explore, as well as a Victorian fragrance garden, a stunning greenhouse filled with tropical plants, and more.
Another Dream Escape favourite is the beautiful ‘colour rooms’, a series of individual gardens all planted in a different hue and designed to stir the emotions. The adjoining country garden, complete with picture-perfect thatched cottage, is quite simply idyllic.
Playfulness abounds throughout; signs encourage guests to pick and eat an apple should they wish, giant bronze toad sculptures spontaneously spurt water, and free-range chickens happily snooze in the grass, while South African designer Porky Hefer, has created human-sized nests for visitors themselves to curl up in...
Another jewel in the estate’s crown is its award-winning cyder. Historically, Somerset is cider-making country, although The Newt has chosen to opt for the old English spelling of the word (cyder). Over 3,000 cyder apple trees grace the estate’s landscape, and old orchards that thrived over 300 years ago are now being revived. Today, it grows 70 varieties of bittersweet and Somerset apples that go into its acclaimed bottles.
The estate’s traditional West Country-style cyders are fresh and aromatic, but in true Newt style there is also plenty of innovation; The Winston, for example, is the first sparkling cyder in the world to be bottled as an imperial pint in honour of a certain British Prime Minister, and The Newt’s awardwinning Fine Cyder, which comes in tall, slim, elegant bottles, is unusually crafted using winemaking techniques and select dessert apples only. It takes 10 months to produce, and the result is a sophisticated, almost wine-like still cyder, with fruitiness on the nose and a crisp taste of apple and lemon. Guests can watch as jewel-like apples tumble through water →
First page: Hadspen House
Second page, left to right: Hadspen House; Beezantium; Villa Ventorum; Bar at Hadspen House; Porky Hefer nests Previous page, left to right: Spa swimming pool; Head of Wellbeing, Franziska Lang picking from the medieval herb garden; The potting shed; Authentic hammam, parabola
This page, left to right: Beezantium; The Viper treetop walkway
Next page, left to right: Croquet lounge; cyder tank; Green beans with cod’s roe, radishes and sourdough croutons; The Viper treetop walkway; Milk Maids bedroom at the Farmyard; Last page, left to right: the Farmyard; The Granary
filled channels that weave underfoot throughout the grounds, while a refreshing glass can be enjoyed under the shade of the trees at the estate’s beautiful cyder bar.
Alternatively, Dream Escape organise private cyder tastings and fascinating tours of The Newt’s state-of-the-art cyder press and cathedral-like cellar.
In addition to the glorious gardens, there is much to discover on this marvellous estate. The latest addition is the Villa Ventorum; a pioneering archaeological experience encompassing the staggering reconstruction of a RomanoBritish villa found on the estate, which dates back to AD351. Seven years in the making, this incredible landmark is the most ambitious reconstruction of a Roman villa ever undertaken in Britain. An audio tour guides guests as they move through the space while virtual-reality technology provides further fascinating insight, and there’s also an opportunity to try some Roman-style street food.
Dream Escape guests can enjoy a fascinating private tour with the project’s head of archaeology, as well as Roman pottery and winemaking experiences, and ultra-exclusive hire of the villa’s stunning Roman spa.
Another Dream Escape favourite is a trip across ‘The Viper’ – a suspended treetop walkway that snakes its way high above a deer-dotted woodland. At the end of it lies The Story of Gardening; an extraordinary, immersive exploration of garden design through time.
Also tucked away in the beautiful woods lies the architecturally outstanding Beezantium, which explores the connection between bees, humans, and the land. Here, among giant honeycomb-shaped walls, guests can marvel at the estate’s wild and native bee colonies in observation hives, while Dream Escape also organise guided bee walks and delicious honey tastings.
The recently unveiled grotto, with its millions of seashells, twinkling crystals and a smoke-breathing dragon is another must-see... →
Epicures are exceptionally well catered for at The Newt, as nature’s bounty is harvested and prepared with immense skill and served at every turn. Wherever you choose to eat on the estate, every plate of food features something grown, reared, or foraged there.
For breakfast, light lunch or afternoon tea, The Garden Café is a sleek, glass-walled space with superb garden and countryside views. Dream Escape also arrange tables at The Botanical Rooms, a beautiful and sophisticated restaurant located within Hadspen House’s historic walls. Here, the menu is shaped by the seasons; dishes include just-picked fruit and vegetables, alongside the likes of estate lamb and venison cooked on a unique grill. Dried botanicals line the walls and luxurious leather banquette seating makes this a picturesque space for a gathering with family or friends. For an unforgettable gastronomic experience, Dream Escape organises exclusive use of a vaulted cellar underneath the house, a stunning private feasting venue that is also home to
an extensive wine collection.
Over at the Farmyard, a more informal restaurant awaits. Located in an old threshing barn, the Farmyard Kitchen has a roaring firepit at its centre and a menu that focuses on delicious sharing plates cooked over fire.
In the summer months, gourmet barbecue suppers are prepared and served in picturesque locations throughout the gardens, and beautiful picnics can also be arranged, while the incredibly well-appointed on-site farm shop is brimming with an array of delectable artisan treats, including a wonderfully fragrant cheese room. Next door, The Newt’s gelateria is not to be missed, whatever the weather.
Dream Escape’s travel designers organise unforgettable stays at The Newt, complete with customised experiences, private tours, and bespoke itineraries, allowing guests to completely immerse themselves in the estate and all that it has to offer.
The hotel, a Grade II*-listed Georgian manor known →
as Hadspen House, was the seat of the Hobhouse Family for more than two centuries. Today, it is one of the most exceptional country-house hotels in the UK, comprising 23 beautifully and individually designed bedrooms, some with stunning views of the estate. In addition to a beautiful bar, restaurant, library, and various relaxion spaces, Hadspen is also home to a sleek, world-class spa that offers herbal-infused treatments, thermal facilities, a beautiful indoor/outdoor pool, and a state-of-the-art gym.
Interior design is remarkable throughout, combining historical features with contemporary architecture and modern design pieces, while playful artwork and a vibrant colour palette echo the surrounding gardens. Each bedroom offers plenty of character; highlights include the Stable Rooms, which feature original hay mangers and tie-rings alongside stunning roll-top baths and wood-burning stoves.
Originally built to store grain, the elevated Granary is now a chic and romantic hideaway for two, while the spectacular Hayloft and Woolsack suites, both with private terraces, can be
combined to offer one magnificent spacious family suite.
In June 2021, the Farmyard was unveiled; an entirely new part of The Newt’s hotel offering, set within a hidden valley half a mile from Hadspen, a 20-minute stroll, beautiful cycle ride, or quick golf-buggy trip away, via picturesque orchards. Home to 17 bedrooms, a swimming pool, a bar, and an all-day kitchen, this modern, more rustic addition is set within the estate’s former dairy. Farmhouse rooms are contemporary and elegant, with original fireplaces, countryside views and marble bathrooms, while the exquisite Apple Loft suite has its own private steam room. For large groups, the entire Farmyard and all its facilities can be hired exclusively for up to 34 guests.
For families or couples looking for complete privacy, Dream Escape’s travel designers recommend The Gate Lodge, a secluded two-bedroom cottage that comes with a dedicated golf buggy.
Whichever accommodation is preferred, guests are encouraged to do as much or as little as they please. Exploring the gardens after hours is a very special experience, as is
taking high tea in the library, exploring the ancient orchards by bicycle or buggy, playing croquet on the lawn, or enjoying a spot of badminton on the private grass court. There is undoubtedly plenty to see and do across this extraordinary estate, but time should also be allowed to embrace the slower pace of country living, and simply soak up all the beauty that the Newt has to offer.
• An unforgettable way to discover The Newt is on its Great Garden Escape. Dream Escape guests can enjoy this unique summer outing, which involves first-class train travel to and from London Paddington and a day to explore the estate, including a delicious lunch in The Garden Café and a private cyder tasting. A Newt breakfast is provided en route, followed by a sumptuous afternoon tea to be enjoyed on the return train journey back to London.
• Further establishing its impressive horticultural prowess, The Newt is now the headline sponsor of the famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which takes place in London in May 2023. For the ultimate ‘garden getaway’, Dream Escape can organise a trip to The Newt followed by an unforgettable stay in London, including a day at the world’s most exclusive flower show.
dreamescape.co.ukLouise Murray, Head of Product
“The Newt offers the ultimate blend of luxury and nature, which are two key elements for a perfect countryside retreat. Hadspen and the Farmyard adapt brilliantly to a romantic escape or a gettogether with family and friends. Set in a beautiful part of the English countryside, there is so much to do within the estate walls before you even think of venturing out to the nearby towns of Castle Cary and Bruton. The gardens are of course a highlight, but there is so much more on offer too. A few days here can easily be whiled away in a very pleasing manner, offering you the perfect antidote to the busy world outside.”
Tullynally Castle has been in the Packenham family since 1655 and the 12 acres of gardens include woodland gardens, walled gardens and two ornamental lakes. On a Dream Escape tour with Thomas Packenham, he’ll tell you about his plantsourcing adventures around the world and growing thousands of trees from seed.
The gardens at Lismore Castle are set over seven acres and divided into two gardens. The lower garden has a yew avenue, open lawns, trees and flower gardens. The upper garden has a superb walled garden dating to 1605, with many original features, such as the stone steps. The garden supplies fruit, vegetables and flowers to the house and also has ornamental
borders. There are sculpture installations throughout, and make sure to visit the contemporary art gallery in the castle’s west wing. There’s a picnic area and Dream Escape guests can arrange a picnic or snacks from the café. If you’re travelling on to Cork city, don’t miss the garden of Hester Forde at Cosheen on the way – a woodland garden with a fantastic collection of plants and a beautiful snowdrop garden. ⬥
The beautiful Garinish Island (also called Ilnaculling), set in a sheltered harbour in Bantry Bay, has lots of rare trees and shrubs thriving in a sunny microclimate. The garden was designed by Harold Peto, and paths lead past features like the Grecian Temple or casita. You can also visit the original family residence. The boat trip to the island has magnificent views of Sugarloaf Mountain and, potentially, basking seals. The Italian terraces at nearby Bantry House & Garden are another Dream Escape favourite.
Did you know? Salthill Gardens, created by Elizabeth Temple, a member of the family behind Magee, the famous Donegal tweed company, is one of 17 magical private gardens that are all part of the Donegal Garden Trail.
The gardens at Powerscourt are famous for their views of County Wicklow, and the Japanese Garden is a gem, especially in spring with colourful azaleas and in autumn with vibrant maple trees. There's also a pagoda, a Japanese bridge and an elevated stone bench for sweeping views. Dream Escape tours also take in nearby Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s second highest.
In the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, Jimi Blake’s Hunting Brook Gardens is the result of this gardener’s passion for plants, and Jimi is happy to show Dream Escape guests the wide variety of plants and shrubs that he has collected over the years. The gardens are divided into two sections – a large, 15-acre area with a woodland garden and a
valley overlooking the mountains; and a smaller five-acre area of ‘exotic gardens’. Different areas within this are named after characters in Jimi’s life. Ashley’s Garden has colourful, large-scale plantings, while Fred’s Garden focuses on all the different textures of plants. Dream Escape guests can also visit Jimi’s sister June Blake’s Garden nearby, a tiny but beautiful garden that includes converted outhouses and some unique accommodation.
Near Lismore, Cappoquin House on the River Blackwater has been home to the Keane family since 1735. Its two hectares of south-facing gardens overlook the valley, with views to Lismore Castle. There’s a formal sunken garden, a pear and apple walk, a woodland walk, a hydrangea collection and many mature trees. Dream Escape guests can tour the house and garden and have lunch with owner Charles Keane. For a contrast, take in the sea air, birdlife and wildflowers on the Cliff Walk at Ardmore.
Dream Escape guests love the tours of these gorgeous gardens – part of the 100-acre farm and kitchen garden that supplies Ballymaloe Cookery School, Ballymaloe House and the farm shop. The gardens have a variety of plants and flowers, set over a mix of wild gardens and ornate designed gardens. There’s a soft fruit garden
with gooseberries, raspberries and blueberries; a herb garden; a Celtic maze made with yew trees; and a wildflower garden that attracts butterflies and bees in summer. There’s also a water garden with a stream and a pond. The gardens also include edible flowers, such as lavender and marigolds, and organic composting. Make sure to sample some of Ballymaloe’s delicious food or produce from the farm shop after your garden tour. ⬥
These gardens were planted in 1868 and are designed in the Robinsonian style, with paths leading through a variety of trees and shrubs, with different colours, textures and planting schemes to enjoy. There are riverwalks, a tree trail, and lots of benches to sit and take in the scenery, plus a restaurant and gift shop for post-walk browsing. Nearby
Glendalough is a Dream Escape favourite for its lakeside paths, forest walks, waterfall trail and 6thcentury monastic village ruins, with church ruins and a round tower.
With mountains, lakes, remote trails and wildlife, Glenveagh National Park covers 16,000 hectares in the centre of Donegal. The centrepiece of the park is Glenveagh Castle and gardens. It's a mix of formal and informal, with paths leading to the walled garden with its colourful plantings, plus an Italian garden with a terrace and statues, and woodlands with exotic sculptures (from places such as Bali) along the way. From the castle, you can take in some of the national park itself by walking or cycling the 3.5km lakeside walk, or hiking into the Upper Glen for something more rugged. Dream Escape loves the contemporary walled garden at Salthill Gardens in nearby Mountcharles, with its secret paths
leading to beds of fruit, flowers and vegetables, all created by Elizabeth Temple, of the family that own Magee, the famous Donegal tweed company. ⬥
Good to know... Landscape designer Catherine FitzGerald, owner of Glin Castle where guests can also enjoy guided tours of the enchanting gardens, breathed new life into the gardens of both Hillsborough and Glenarm castles
This is an excellent small garden on 2.5 acres, with giant chestnut, beech and oak trees, plus a colourful walled garden with a herbaceous border full of unusual plants and flowers. There are grass paths past a lily pond and apple trees, a wisteriacovered pergola and a quiet summerhouse at the end of the garden.
Caroline Charnock is our resident Garden Specialist. Combining her hobby and passion with work, she is thrilled to focus her vast expertise on gardens and garden tours especially for Dream Escape. What a fabulous excuse to visit some of the most stunning homes and gardens throughout the UK & Ireland in the name of research! Get in touch with Caroline now, for more information and inspiration.
Our pick of gardens to visit in Northern Ireland...
Mount Stewart (National Trust)
The gardens of this 19th-century mansion include a sunken garden, an Italian garden and demesne with walking trails. There are fantastic tours by the head gardener.
Hillsborough Castle & Gardens
One hundred acres of gardens –walled gardens, glens, woodlands and ornamental lawns – plus a private experience of the castle itself for Dream Escape guests.
Glenarm Castle & Garden
An 18th-century walled garden with colourful flowers, herbaceous borders and water features, all set in a glen, with designs by Glin Castle owner Catherine FitzGerald.
Gardens at Grey Abbey House Woodlands, colourful borders, meadows, and a southernhemisphere garden with a Chilean collection of plants and seeds.
Head chef of Michelin-starred Northcote at just 23, Lisa Goodwin-Allen was determined to let the best quality and freshest seasonal produce do her bidding. Now the Lancashire country hotel’s executive chef and a familiar face on TV, Lisa talks to Dream Escape about provenance, pressure and plans for the future
You’ve been heading up the Northcote kitchen in Langho since you were 23 and now oversee menus at The Stafford London too. How do you continue to be innovative and keep ideas fresh?
I’m very hands-on and I love being creative. I like taking traditional things and stamping my DNA on them. Creating a dish that doesn’t look like an apple pie, but it tastes like an apple pie: that's really exciting to me. I also want to be able to taste everything that’s on the plate.
I know the provenance of each ingredient is very important to you. For example, your beef comes from Cumbrian fell farmers who support biodiverse pastures; duck, from Yorkshire family run butchers, is outdoors-reared, grass-
fed and free-range; and asparagus is planted and picked by hand in nearby Nelson then taken in baskets to the packhouse and sorted while still fresh. How closely do you work with your suppliers?
Very closely. Where it’s been grown or reared is just as important to us as how we cook it. Respecting the land, sourcing seasonally, locally and ethically, minimising waste and ensuring produce is grown and reared in a responsible manner is the Lancashire way. We ask our suppliers, ‘What have you got that’s good for us at the minute?’ It makes for a diverse menu. You’ll think of an idea and a week later it’s completely different.
We take our staff out to visit our farms too. We have a Mercedes – I call it the Vengabus – and I stick them all in the →
back of it and off we go. They get to see how they’re grown and it gives them so much more enthusiasm and respect.
You have a zero-waste policy, don’t you? Tell us how this works in practice.
It’s a big philosophy here at Northcote. It makes you think outside the box. Sirloin steaks arrive whole on the bone. We use the bones for stocks and consommé then the fat is rendered and used to cook other things in. When we made little beef tacos we took out half of the fat, then smoked it, froze it and grated it back over for more flavour. All the meat trimmings went into a meatball for our lunch menu. With a herb like tarragon we may use the top herb for a pesto then the stalks could be put into oil then heated at 60 degrees for eight hours. It penetrates them into the oil
to produce this lovely tarragon oil which we can make a mayonnaise from.
I love the fact you serve such an inventive Michelinstarred menu that still manages to retain a homely tilt. Are your dishes inspired by your upbringing in Morecambe on the Lancashire coast?
I like to take traditional dishes and classic flavours and put a modern spin on them. Food conjures amazing memories, →
“ Food conjures amazing memories, whether it’s tasting something that you remember from childhood, or something you ate with your grandparents. I think food just comes with this amazing history.”
whether it’s tasting something that you remember from childhood, or something you ate with your grandparents. I think food just comes with this amazing history.
Every January Northcote hosts Obsession, a hugely prestigious celebration of food that sees 20 world-class chefs descend on the hotel to cook their own feasts for diners over 17 nights. Can you explain what Dream Escape guests might expect from the experience? Do the chefs just sweep into your kitchen with everything and everyone they need?
We work closely with all of the chefs in advance with regards
to menus and ordering. UK chefs tend to bring some of their brigade to assist and we support with Northcote team, so it’s a real mixture. The chefs coming from overseas trust the process and allow us to order everything. They tend to only bring one or two assistants and the Northcote team delivers the rest.
It must be so much fun to be part of but have there ever been any mishaps? You don’t need to name names! For sure, our trickiest moment was when we had two chefs coming over for Obsession from the Far East. Unfortunately one of the chefs had to travel home as soon as they arrived
“... One of the chefs had to travel home as soon as they arrived in the country and then the other chef couldn't understand the recipes. We ended up recreating the dishes ourselves and the night was a success but it was definitely a squeaky-bum moment!”
in the country and then the other chef couldn't understand the recipes. We ended up recreating the dishes ourselves and the night was a success but it was definitely a squeaky-bum moment!
When you became head chef at Northcote 19 years ago it had already held a Michelin star since 1996. It’s an amazing achievement retaining that star year after year. How much pressure does it place on you? It keeps you on your toes. But at the front of everyone’s head is the fact that we’re cooking for customers. People want to see the quality of the food and the footprint of the chef in that food. That’s the most important thing.
You’ve won quite a few accolades, including being a winning chef on Great British Menu and winning Craft Guild Of Chefs’ Restaurant of the Year. But you’ve clocked up a pretty impressive TV career too, including as a judge on Masterchef: The Professionals and Great British Menu and appearances on James Martin’s Saturday Morning. What’s more nerveracking: filming for TV or unveiling a new menu at Northcote?
To be honest, both are equally as nerve-racking at the pressure points. On TV, undoubtedly, I want to do my best. When we launch a new menu in the restaurant, the nerves are different but the adrenaline is still there, [plus] the responsibility to make sure I please the guests, my team, and the amazing producers who support me with their produce.
We’re going to be building a brand new, contemporary style, sustainable restaurant on the lawn, which will have stunning views of the Ribble Valley. It will include a chef's table and be a stand-alone operation for hotel residents as well as non-hotel guests. The main restaurant as it is now will then be modernised into a high-quality brasserie. There’ll be more offerings here but we’ll keep that family hub that we want people to come into, like a home.
dreamescape.co.ukSue Morris, Head of Marketing
“Dream Escape can offer the very best of private culinary experiences. From the chef’s table to private dining and cookery masterclasses with Michelin-starred chefs to foraging, we have it covered. Get in touch with us to start planning your epicurean exploration.”
Enjoy a private dance lesson at one of the most famous dance studios in the world. Pineapple is for everyone – from ordinary people to A-list celebrities and British royalty. Famous visitors have included David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Madonna, Take That, Rihanna and One Direction. With its roots firmly embellished in a love of all things ‘dance’, Pineapple’s dance and fashion heritage has touched the lives of so many people in some way during its 40-year reign at the helm of Debbie Moore OBE.
Dream Escape can arrange a private floristry workshop in a delightful shop in Chelsea for you to make your very own boutonnière or buttonhole to wear to the world's greatest flower show. Learn classic flowerarranging skills and be creative in a fun atmosphere, taking home the confidence to successfully arrange
flowers for your home. Plus, with your own dried-flower boutonnière or buttonhole pinned to your jacket or dress, you will arrive in style to the world-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by The Newt in Somerset (see our article on page 48). The 2023 show will shine a spotlight on restorative gardens and the ways in which gardening and gardens can contribute positively to our health and wellbeing, as well as to help the environment. ⬥
The 26th official James Bond film is unlikely to be in cinemas before 2025, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying life through the eyes of a spellbinding secret agent. Dream Escape will take you on a private tour of Bletchley Park – once the top-secret home of the WWII code breakers – on an adrenalinefuelled driving experience in a formula racing car on the UK's fastest race circuit, and to a luxury hotel where you can sip a vodka martini during sundown. Dream Escape guests can even meet Dame Stella Rimington, famed for her former position as the first female Director-General of MI5. Stella is an inspirational speaker and will share her stories of her time in MI5 service.
Step back in time and buckle up behind the wheel of a classic sports car on a sensational vintage trip. Dream Escape puts you in the driving seat, navigating dream roads through incredible Scottish Highland landscapes. You will be driving the likes of a Morgan, a Triumph, a Jaguar, or an Austin Healey through stunning scenery, and staying each night in some of Scotland's most beautiful accommodation, from The Balmoral and Cameron House to romantic Scottish castles in remote glens, such as Roxburgh Castle, Inverlochy and Floors Castle. Make your trip even more special with a helicopter transfer to your start point on arrival. ⬥
Explore the harbour at a gentle pace before tearing through the waters of the Solent to the Isle of Wight at 40+ miles per hour for an adrenalin-pumped adventure. MGB
81, described as 'the Spitfire of the seas', has three new engines, and as the only surviving boat of her type is the ultimate high-speed, once-in-a-lifetime James Bond-style experience.
With International Museum Week returning in May 2023, there has never been a better time to immerse yourself in city culture. With a collection spanning 5,000 years of human creativity, the V&A Museum is a great place to start. Explore creations that range from ancient ceramics to manuscripts, Raphael Cartoons and Alexander McQueen evening dresses, providing a glimpse into the world’s greatest creative minds. The Royal Academy showcases more major exhibitions in 2023, focusing on living artists and architects, art displays, and the institution’s two buildings – Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens – are linked with dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including an Architecture Studio. You might also enjoy the Cartoon Museum, where you can explore the wonderful world of British cartoons and comics. There's also the Tate Modern, Britain's national museum of modern and contemporary art, with temporary exhibitions by top artists from Damien Hirst to Gauguin, and restaurants offering fabulous views across the city. ⬥
Your adventure begins inside the grand stone gates of a remarkable 800-year-old castle. As Ireland's first Forbes Five-Star Hotel and the former home of the Guinness family, Ashford Castle is truly a oncein-a-lifetime luxurious experience. From here, Dream Escape will showcase the world’s longest coastal drive; the Wild Atlantic Way, taking you off the beaten track and to the most beautiful parts of Ireland in a vintage car. Passing by towering cliffs and twisting roads, your excursions will range from helicopter flights to exclusive access to magnificent stately homes, and your trip is completed with the intimate and luxurious stay at Ashford Castle. ⬥
Discover the history and etiquette of an enduring British tradition with a fun and unique afternoon tea masterclass with Jo Bryant. Jo Bryant is a British etiquette consultant, who appeared on television around the world for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and was a commentator for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. The private Dream Escape session is arranged and hosted by Jo in a London tea salon – for example, Fortnum & Mason or a top London hotel. While enjoying afternoon tea together, Jo guides you through the etiquette with relaxed, chatty, discreet and informative teaching. ⬥
Join an alpaca walk through the beautiful South Oxfordshire countryside – where the Chiltern Hills meet the River Thames. You can enjoy leading an alpaca around a farm as you learn more about these attractive, enigmatic creatures that originate from the High Andes of Peru, but are quite at home in leafy England. Bozedown Farm is home to Bozedown Alpacas – a family enterprise that has been breeding and selling alpacas since 1989, with more than 700 alpacas from truly exceptional Bozedown pedigrees. Stay in five-star bliss at the nearby Coworth Park, part of the Dorchester Collection. Set in beautiful Berkshire countryside with a luxurious spa, Coworth Park Hotel is an oasis of calm. Located in Ascot, home to royal races, parks and princes.
One of the most important dates in the racing calendar, Cheltenham Festival – in the beautiful, rolling Cotswold Hills – has been a celebrated event for over a century. And, with Dream Escape, the 2023 season will be as special as ever. Nestled in the natural amphitheatre created by Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham, which flanks the course and faces the rising terraces that overlook the expansive racecourse and the green Cotswold hills beyond, Cheltenham Racecourse is known as the home of jump racing – and the Festival is the jewel in its sporting crown. At Cheltenham, there’s perhaps no better way to enjoy The Festival than from the Club Enclosure, which has spectacular views from the tiered main grandstand, as well as the expansive members' lawn where you can watch the racing up close and even get a spot by the winning post. With VIP box experiences, as well as access to the paddock and parade ring, these luxury experiences bring an added magic to spending a day at the races. ⬥Annika Busam, Travel Design Manager
“Spring is one of my favourite seasons and, this year especially, we have so many new and exciting experiences to offer. We love to inspire and engage our clients with unique activities and off-the-beaten-track experiences, appreciating the chance to get outside, and enjoy the longer days. This Top 10 list is just a glimpse of the vast range we can organise for you.”annika
From the Battle of Culloden to playing host to Downton Abbey, Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll, gives the lowdown on life at Inveraray and why the castle is Scotland at its most perfect
WORDS | HARRIET COMPSTON
It’s Scotland on a plate,” says Eleanor about Inveraray Castle. Her husband, Torquhil, the 13th Duke, is the latest in line to take on the seat of Clan Campbell on the shores of glistening Loch Fyne, an hour from Glasgow.
“You’ve got Highland cows, red squirrels, eagles, amazing historical trees and water. It’s exactly how Scotland is meant to look,” continues Eleanor who lives in the castle with her husband and their three children: Archie, Rory and Charlotte.
Inveraray Castle was commissioned by the 3rd Duke, inspired by a sketch by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace. It was completed in 1789 by architects Roger Morris and William Adam. After a fire in 1877, corner towers with striking conical roofs were added. It was Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, married to the 11th Duke, who opened the castle to the public. She hit headlines for scandals – ‘Marg of Arg’ reputedly had 88 lovers, and her divorce from the Duke was dramatised in the BBC’s A Very British Scandal – but she was also savvy, with a business mind.
In 2002, Torquhil and Eleanor, née Cadbury (of the chocolate empire), inherited Inveraray, shortly after getting engaged. They took over the castle straight away. However, the building required some renovations. “We did nothing to the historical side but it was a freezing cold house. So, we put in 120 radiators, powered by wood chips. We only heat the bedrooms and kitchens, the places we live in. We don’t heat any staterooms. They’re too precious.”
These precious staterooms include the Armoury Hall, with a soaring 21m ceiling, displaying a breathtaking 300 pieces of armoury used in various Campbell battles, including Culloden. The Parisian-style Tapestry Drawing Room, with dripping chandeliers, has an original set of Beauvais tapestries. Then there’s the Saloon, lined with family portraits (including a Gainsborough), housing a grand piano where Lerner and Loewe composed music for My Fair Lady
The lavish State Dining Room, with stunning walls by French artists Girard and Guinard, is Eleanor’s favourite. “All of the walls and ceilings are hand-painted and decorated with little red squirrels. Exquisite. It’s interesting – you see this masculine castle from the outside but then the dining room interiors are very pretty and feminine, in soft green, blues and pinks.”
The garden is equally magnificent, with trees planted by distinguished visitors, including Queen Victoria, David Livingstone and William Gladstone. The formal gardens, in the
shape of the Saltire, Scotland’s national flag, retain the original design. Look out for daffodils in spring, carpets of bluebells in May and vibrant red, pink and white rhododendrons throughout the summer. The head gardener can do tours.
Alongside hosting rousing annual events, including the Highland Games (open to visitors), Inveraray is used as a filming location, most famously as
Donegal Castle in the Downton Abbey Christmas special. Eleanor remembers: “We were sworn to secrecy. But, of course, with Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery walking around our pretty small town, the cat was soon out of the bag. The cast were really good and very professional. They fished in the river and stalked for deer. It was good fun.”
The last few years have been
challenging with COVID-19 (a “shocker”). However, visitors are nearly back to normal numbers. “I like the historical side of the castle and am fascinated by how people lived and worked,” says Eleanor who also runs the excellent Castle Tearoom, using the best of Argyll ingredients. Torquhil is more interested in the outdoors. He’s always outside with a chainsaw. Today, a tree →
“ We were sworn to secrecy. But, of course, with Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery walking around our pretty small town, the cat was soon out of the bag.”
“ We want to keep on improving the castle so we can pass it onto Archie. Torquhil always says you’ve got to hand something on in a better condition than when you inherit it. With a building that’s 300 years old, it’s a bit of a challenge but we do the best we can.”
was blown down in the wind so he’s gone off with the dog and our eldest son to sort it out.”
The best way to experience Inveraray is an all-exclusive stay, offered by Dream Escape. Guests can arrive by helicopter on the lawn. There are six bedrooms (three turreted), with private bathrooms. Two have tapestry four-poster super king-sized beds. Eleanor, who gives private tours, explains: “I have kept the original look of the state bedrooms. I just had everything decorated and replaced the beds with beautiful, monogrammed sheets from Peter Reed. The bathrooms have now got underfloor heating and Floris products. It still looks authentic and beautiful.”
The estate is known for its fantastic produce – complete with oysters from the loch. Guests can fish for small spate salmon and trout with the Duke. Or there’s deerstalking with the gamekeeper. Either way, the castle cuisine is superb. Eleanor can organise for Michelin-star chefs to come in for a dinner in the State Dining Room. There’s the option of a cèilidh in the hall, a bagpiper piping in guests, and you can have your own kilt made. There’s excellent whisky, thanks to Torquhil’s role as representative of Pernod Ricard distillers. He also hosts tastings.
Beyond the castle, go for a scenic stroll to ruined Kilchurn Castle or visit the mighty Cruachan Dam, where part of Star Wars’ new movie Andor was filmed. Potter across to picturesque Castle Stalker by boat. There’s Seafari in Oban for other fascinating boat trips. And, while you’re in Oban, check out the Distillery, owned by Diageo, and enjoy a private whisky-tasting experience. Cross the bridge over the Atlantic to the Isle of Seil and explore An Cala Garden – former home of Frances Shand Kydd, mother of Princess Diana. Continue the island hopping with a visit to Easdale, one of the Slate Islands, once the centre of the Scottish slate industry.
Further south, there’s the Himalayan-style glen Crarae Garden. Another highlight is Kilmartin Glen, with one of the most important concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland. With over 350 ancient moments (150 being prehistoric), it’s a ritualistic landscape of chambered cairns, stone circles, henges, lists and cup and ring marks.
So, what is the future of Inveraray Castle? “We want to keep on improving the castle so we can pass it onto Archie. Torquhil always says you’ve got to hand something on in a better condition than when you inherit it. With a building that’s 300 years old, it’s a bit of a challenge but we do the best we can.” It seems the Argylls are doing a fantastic job.
dreamescape.co.ukDavid Tobin, Owner and Director
“Any visit to Inveraray inevitably starts with an amazingly scenic journey by road or helicopter. The estate is as splendid as the castle itself and a hike up to the magnificent viewpoint is a must for those that are able. However, the highlight will be a private tour of the castle followed by drinks and dinner if the Duke & Duchess are in residence.”
The world-famous Jurassic Coast is an astounding landscape comprising otherworldly rock formations totalling an impressive 185 million years of geological history. Some of the best-known spots include Dorset's most-photographed landmark, Durdle Door, and the giant chalk stacks at Handfast Point, known as Old Harry Rocks. Besides these fashionable spots, however, there are over 90 miles of spectacular rugged headland just waiting to be discovered.
Quite impressively, this coastline is the only natural UNESCO site in the UK – and one of the best ways to experience the wondrous panoramas is by horseback. Dream Escape trips to this region will often include a private horse-riding trek, with access to miles of
bridleways over Ballard and Nine Barrow Downs. There are acres of pine forest at Rempstone, stunning views from Godlingston Heath and three miles of sandy beach at Studland Bay, making it the perfect destination for an incredible riding experience.
With breathtaking views, open fields and long canters, it is clear to see why a ride on top of Ballard Down is another clear favourite, with all-round incredible views of Swanage to one side, Poole Harbour with all its islands to the other and Old Harry with the Isle of Wight in the distance.
Visitors to this region are rewarded for their coastal walking or horse-riding efforts with superb hospitality – restaurants are rich with locally farmed and foraged produce. One of Dream Escape's favourites is The Pig
Last year marked 20 years since the Jurassic Coast gained its UNESCO World Heritage status – Dream Escape uncovers this idyllic region of Dorset and Devon where guests can experience its wild natural beauty and celebrated local attractionsWORDS | JESSICA WAY
on the Beach, situated along Studland Bay – one of seven PIG hotels spread across every county along the south coast of England, widely celebrated for their laid-back ethos and distinctive sense of organic style.
Just a short detour from the Jurassic Coast (and The Pig on the Beach) at the entrance to Poole Harbour is one of the best beaches in Britain, Sandbanks. Blue-flagged and with breathtaking views over Bournemouth Bay. Taking a private boat charter, you can enjoy Studland Bay, Sandbanks and Brownsea Island – all in one day.
As the night draws in, Rick Stein’s restaurant – serving dishes of Dover sole, lobster thermidor and freshly shucked oysters, in a romantic setting with panoramic views of Poole
Harbour – is just one of many fabulous dining options where you'll enjoy fabulous local seafood fresh from the ocean. There’s an abundance of beautiful beaches on your doorstep, as well as a thousand-year-old royal stronghold, Corfe Castle, to explore. Taking out a pedalo or kayak from Swanage Beach will have you feeling as though you are in the Mediterranean, and if you are lucky enough to visit the Dancing Ledge when the waves are washing over the horizontal surface, you will witness the undulations causing the water to bob about – making the ledge appear to dance!
Heading west along the coast from Studland to Weymouth, you come to yet more beautiful sandy shores, including Kimmeridge Bay, Ringstead Bay and Bowleaze Cove. →
You will also pass much-loved attractions, including Lulworth Castle, Butter Rock Castle and the Osmington White Horse.
In Weymouth, Dream Escape transports its guests for a leisurely cruise along the Jurassic Coast to see Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door by private boat charter. One of Dream Escape's favourite idyllic spots is Lulworth Cove – a scenic wonder of the natural world. This sheltered bay has crystal-clear waters and a welcoming seaside village. The natural limestone arch of Durdle Door is extremely popular, and this often makes it difficult to visit away from the crowds – however, by water you avoid the hustle and bustle and are instead able to experience this significant beauty spot from your own special viewpoint.
Overlooking this beautiful coastline, and a great place to get your head down for the evening, is Clifftops. Nestled into the Portland stone cliffs, on the beautiful Isle of Portland, at the edge of the Penn Castle Estate. Clifftops has been designed beautifully – there are five brand-new luxury
lodges, which can accommodate up to 20 guests.
Staying in one of the luxury Clifftops lodges, you are at the southernmost point on the Jurassic Coast. The Isle of Portland is a tied island joined to the mainland by Chesil beach. There is plenty to see, do and explore on the island itself, including visiting the 16th-century Portland Castle, Rufus Castle or Portland Bill Lighthouse or you might choose to spend a lazy afternoon listening to the lapping waves at Church Ope Cove.
Less than an hour from here, heading inland into the gorgeous Dorset countryside, is Chedington – a beautiful estate, farm and equestrian's paradise – providing a home for elite horses and riders to compete and train. Dream Escape organise private tours of the estate with the estate owners and private fossil-hunting experiences with an archaeologist on the nearby Lyme Regis coastline.
Visit for the day or, if you would prefer to stay tucked away in the estate, there's Chedington Grange, where two converted barns sleep up to 24 guests.
On the way to or from Chedington, Dream Escape loves to take guests for a hearty breakfast or lunch at Pip's Railway Carriage. Owners Pip and Gary serve outstanding food, coffee, teas and delicious cakes crafted on-site in their bakeshop and using local produce from their organic farm. Served in beautifully refurbished 1850’s train carriage booths, a double-decker bus and a beautiful garden, this is a truly unique and quirky dining experience.
Within Thomas Hardy’s enchanting village of Evershot is the quintessential country escape Summer Lodge Hotel. Dream Escape guests love the enchanting cottages, from the secluded sheltered rockery and wood-panelled private dining room in Bea's Cottage to the enchanting hot tub in Ivy Cottage, surrounded by the garden’s fairy candles and set under the dramatic Dorset stars.
From courts to castles, and abbeys to manor houses, Summer Lodge is surrounded by a wide variety of historic houses and gardens. Whether you are interested in the architecture and the history, the flora and fauna, or simply just enjoy taking a stroll in a beautiful setting, Dream Escape recommends Lytes Cary Manor, →
‘ Dream Escape guests love the enchanting cottages...surrounded by the garden’s fairy candles and set under the dramatic Dorset stars.
’Previous page: Durdle Door This page, left to right: Clifftops lodges at the Penn Castle Estate; View to Portland Next page: The east front of Montacute House; The Folly at THE PIG at Combe; Lympstone Manor
originally the family home of Henry Lyte; and Montacute House, a magnificent, glittering mansion, built in the late 16th century for Sir Edward Phelips. There are many Renaissance features, and the Long Gallery, the longest of its kind in England, displays the finest Tudor and Elizabethan portraits from the National Portrait Gallery collection.
Described as one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in the UK, Sculpture by the Lakes is another fantastic place to visit during your stay at Chedington Grange or Summer Lodge.
Heading further west towards Orcombe Point near Exmouth, the opposite-ended gateway to the Jurassic Coast to Old Harry Rocks in Swanage where your journey started, you will find sister property to THE PIG on the Beach, THE PIG at Combe – a honey-coloured Elizabethan gem in the Otter Valley. Take part in a gardening workshop with Mark Diacono in The Folly, a derelict chic hideaway tucked in the garden, or dine out in style in The Restaurant, benefiting from a 25mile locally sourced menu and three walled gardens – the vegetable garden, the herb garden, and the infusion garden. The bedrooms at THE PIG-at Combe also have a larder wellstocked with vintage treats and locally sourced snacks.
There are many attractions nearby, including Killerton House, an 18th-century National Trust house with stunning landscaped gardens, costume collections and more; Wildwood Escot, with plenty of animals, a maze, a 40-metre zip line, and and an authentic Saxon village; Powderham Castle, a distinctive castle set in a scenic location with over 600 years of history; and Castlewood Vineyard, where you can explore their vineyards
and discover their delicious wines. Dream Escape can also arrange fishing trips from Beer, private boat cruises from Lyme Bay and watersport activities, including kitesurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing from Exmouth Beach. There are many great spots for refreshments, some of Dream Escape's favourites include Robin Wylde’s restaurant in Lyme Regis, The Lost Kitchen in Tiverton and 14thcentury Masons Arms in Branscombe, one of Britain’s most picturesque villages.
Last but by no means least, our favourite hotel to stay in while exploring the Jurassic Coast is Lympstone Manor. This luxury five-star Relais & Châteaux country house hotel overlooking the Exe estuary has 21 luxurious guest rooms and suites, six shepherds huts, Michelin-starred fine dining from chef Michael Caines, a world-class wine cellar, 28 acres of ground, including a 10.8-acre vineyard, a heated outdoor swimming pool and a brand new pool-house restaurant and bar.
Lympstone Manor is the perfect base from which to explore the South Hams, where you will find beautiful maritime town, such as Dartmouth and Salcombe. In the heart of the county, Dartmoor National Park is ideal for walkers looking for a varied challenge, with heather and gorse meadows, rugged granite tors, and over 5,000 Bronze Age hut circles.
Exeter, the capital of this beautiful county, lies seven miles north of Lympstone Manor on the Exe river. It is a vibrant and lively cathedral city that is attractive and steeped in history, pre-dating the arrival of the Romans in AD 50. The imposing Roman and medieval city wall is still intact in many places, and archaeologists have uncovered much of interest from the distant past. The Gothic cathedral dates from the 11th century and there are lovely, half-timbered Tudor buildings that somehow survived the bombings of WWII.
There are two extraordinary National Trust attractions close by, where Dream Escape often take guests. Within walking distance of Lympstone Manor the quirky 18th-century, 16-sided A La Ronde house, where imaginations of cousins Jane and Mary Parminter ran wild in the 1790s. Marvel in the fascinating interior decoration and collections.
A short drive and detour from the Jurassic Coast into Dartmoor National Park, Fingle Bridge Woods is one of the National Trust's calmest spots, looking out over the River Teign with unspoilt woods, ancient trees, thriving wildlife, miles of pathways and Castle Drogo to explore. Follow the river, spot the beautiful butterflies, and climb to the top of the gorge for spectacular views over Dartmoor.
A journey of the Jurassic Coast takes you through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods – a time of deserts, tropical seas, ancient forests, and lush swamps all documented in the rocks. This is a must-visit coastline, abundant in natural beauty and our earth’s preserved history, combined with luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants and prevalent attractions.
dreamescape.co.ukSusie Little, Travel Design Manager
“Whether you’re a palaeontologist, a digging dabbler or have simply never touched a hammer before, the Jurassic Coastline is for you – a place where you can scout the beaches for a fossil, find a dinosaur’s tooth, or merely have a wonderful morning full of sea air and discovery. There is a certain magical feeling opening a rock up and being the first human to glance at a 200-million-year-old fossil.”
Situated in a picturesque Irish village, Adare Manor recently awarded as a Forbes 5-Star Hotel, is an ideal base for exploring the best that Ireland has to offer. But did you know the luxury castle offers wellness stays? Adare Manor is surrounded by woodlands, and the activity centre – The Padel Club – offers an exhilarating outlet for active fun. Alongside this, The Spa offers tranquillity and peacefulness. Include a calming audio-guided wellness walk to your stay and you can be certain to walk away feeling refreshed and rested.
Offering massages, facials and more, with every treatment personally tailored to the needs of each guest, you are in safe hands in the Little Bothy Spa at Heckfield Place, Hampshire. There’s everything, including naturopathy, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, sports massage and myofascial release. Treatments are all-natural, using exclusive products from the Wildsmith Skin range. The emphasis is on wellness and a deep connection to our natural surroundings, with ingredients drawn from the hotel’s Apothecary Garden, and juices and infusions made fresh each day. This is the perfect place to invigorate or unwind. ⬥
Inspired by Heckfield Place's arboretum, Wildsmith Skin was planted in the early 19th century, curated by horticulturalist William Walker Wildsmith. We love the Active Super Oil (priced £100) to leave skin nourished and restored. Experience during a facial at Heckfield Place Hotel or buy directly from wildsmithskin.com/collections/shop
Three new retreats have been launched by Lime Wood Hotel in Hampshire at the hotel's award-winning spa Herb House. Each has been inspired by the surrounding ancient woodland of the New Forest using the power of nature to recharge the mind, body and soul – Lime Wood’s first Bamford retreat, The Power Of Nature; Wild Wanderings, with a guided forest bathing walk; and Forest Fix, an adventurous immersion into the great outdoors.⬥
For the wild swimmer...
Wild swim in style. Add a firepit, an abundance of warm towels and fresh robes, with some warmed drink over the fire. Enjoy an après-swim Whisky Mac cocktail fireside as the ranger cooks your bacon or portobello mushroom bap. ⬥
Galloway Forest Park in Scotland is home to one of the UK’s Dark Sky Parks, due to the lack of light pollution resulting in amazing clear night skies. Stay at Glenapp Castle to experience the same expansive skies from the comfort of the Glenapp gardens. On clear nights you can view the Milky Way stretching from one horizon to the other. You might even be lucky enough to spot the mesmerising display of the Northern Lights! ⬥
The five-star Seaham Hall on the Durham Heritage Coast, offers a grand, historic setting and is the perfect place to undertake a Wim Hof workshop – a course designed to provide myriad benefits, including increased energy, better sleep and reduced stress levels through three key principles – breathwork, the cold, and mindset. ⬥
Wales is one of the world's greatest countries for castles of architectural splendour. Learn about the Welsh nation through the fortresses that defined its unique history, culture and language... from defensive beginnings, to Tudor banqueting and Victorian decadence
The magnificent medieval Laugharne Castle is forever associated with Dylan Thomas, who escaped writer’s block at the 12th-century ruins. Discover his inspiration within the Victorian ornamental gardens, and relax near the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and Shed, where poetry was once in motion.
Edward I wasn’t messing around when he built this polygonal 13thcentury castle on a former Roman fort. Part of the coastal World Heritage Site, the mighty Caernarfon Castle remains one of the most visually arresting sights you’ll ever see. Exhibition rooms also feature this landmark to stir the senses. ⬥
Did you know? The castles of Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech and Beaumaris form the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘The castles and town walls of Edward 1st in Gwynedd’. They are jointly described as the most important examples of medieval architecture in Europe and the zenith of English castle building.
Built by the native Welsh Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (or Llewelyn the Great), Dolbadarn Castle was the Welsh seat of power in the ancient Kingdom of Gwynedd and guarded the most important pass through the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia). It stands in spectacular surroundings below Yr Wyddfa (Mount Snowdon) and gives context to the power and wealth of the Welsh underdogs compared to that of England, who eventually conquered Wales in the late 1200s. ⬥
Powis Castle has a rich history, although it’s the gardens – famed for their French and Italian styles, adorned with plants and an orangery – that single it out, and that’s before you spot the medieval deer park. The perfect place to relax before heading inside to see decadent galleries and staircases aplenty. ⬥
The largest castle in Wales, and the second largest in Britain, Caerphilly Castle was locked within water defences when it was built by the English during the 13th century. The outside is the place, among an array of delights, to see four siege engines, and the inside has a hallowed, majestic feel. ⬥
Perched on a rock against the backdrop of Snowdonia, Conwy Castle has an indisputably magical feel. Some consider it the finest castle Edward I built, and the mesmerising views from the battlements are particularly famed within the walled town. Great halls, private chapels and royal chambers wind through this medieval marvel. ⬥
Harlech was built by the command of conquering King Edward I. Ambitious and expensive, this castle was built to demonstrate this English king's power over Wales. Among the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site Harlech Castle is accessed via an equally dramatic ‘floating' bridge, enabling visitors to enter the castle through its original entrance for the first time in 600 years. ⬥
Raglan Castle's striking round towers make this fortress a singular classic, and there’s every chance you’ll be enraptured from the moment you see the astonishing
gatehouse that once denied Oliver Cromwell at the end of the Civil War. Surrounded by fields, the romantic ruins even make space for a bowling green. ⬥Michael Davies, Travel Design Manager.
With Conwy Castle named by Condé Nast as one of the most beautiful in Europe, the medieval fortresses are a defining image of Welsh landscape and history. From Snowdonia to the South Wales Valleys , the castles serve as evocative symbols of ancient wars that were fought across this now harmonious country. Ask how Dream Escape can incorporate castles into your itinerary, be it a day trip into Wales or a weeklong tour.”
Dream Escape’s Client Relationship Managers and founts of knowledge, Rosie Peattie and Sally Strange, both Blue Badge Guides, share some of their favourite experiences and what there is to look forward to this season...
Did you know? A painting by David Hockney set a world-record price for a living artist, when Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) sold more than $US90 million at Christie’s auction house in New York in 2018.
to the partial ruins on the shores or lochs or in a Highland glen (Finlarig Castle close to the shores of Loch Ness is a great example of this). On the whole they were all built for defensive purposes and they all have enthralling legends, a fascinating history, incredible views – and usually a ghost!
“The world is very, very beautiful if you look at it, but most people don't look very much.”
So says David Hockney, one of the geniuses of 20th-century British art in his introduction to ‘Bigger and Closer’, his much-anticipated exhibition that opens in London this spring. And it is the art of learning to really look that has inspired one of our latest experiences, discovering London through the lens with a professional photographer. What better time of year to tune into the art of observation than spring, when all the signs of a new season are there if we look.
You can enjoy Hockney’s work at what will be the inaugural show at the Lightroom, brand-new artistic premises that opened in King’s Cross in February 2023: four storeys of extraordinary space designed by Haworth Tompkins. Intended to be a sister establishment to the much-acclaimed Bridge Theatre, it will similarly have a bar and cafe by award-winning St John, regularly featured in best-restaurant lists. ⬥
Just as a new season dawns, so does a new reign. The continuity of the monarchy is the golden thread that runs through British history, and as sure as spring follows winter so does the Crown pass from generation to generation.
King Charles’ coronation is set for 6 May at Westminster Abbey: a new year, a new season, a new monarch. It certainly promises to be ‘very very beautiful’ and I certainly cannot wait to share these wonderful experiences with our clients. ⬥
Did you know? King Charles, now 74, is the oldest monarch crowned in British history, having been heir apparent since he was three years old.
Sally Strange, Client Relationship Manager email@example.com
Castles are a huge part of the landscape in Scotland, and visitors will visit at least one but pass many, many more as they travel through the countryside. They range from the mighty fortress-like castles (such as Stirling Castle) built on volcanic outcrops or on a cliff edge, to the tower-house castles of the Middle Ages (such as Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire)
The best visits are the private ones, when the Clan Chief, Duke, Earl or Laird conduct the tour. You adventure behind the scenes and hear the family history from one who knows it best. A couple of my favourites to visit would have to be the spectacular Castle Menzies in the Highlands and the lavish Floors Castle in the Scottish Borders. Get in touch and we can also arrange visits to a particular clan castle connected with your family, or a castle connected to the TV series Outlander as part of a set-jetting itinerary. ⬥
Did you know? It is thought that there used to be up to 3,000 castles across Scotland, though today the numbers are fewer.Rosie Peattie, Client Relationship Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY
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Wales is one of the world's greatest countries for castles of architectural splendour. Learn about the Welsh nation through the fortresses that defined its unique history, culture and language... from defensive beginnings, to Tudor banqueting and Victorian decadence.