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Weekend brunch at Hestercombe

Brunch in The Column Room Restaurant then a perambulation around the glorious grounds, take in an art exhibition, shop for gifts, plants and books ...

THE LOCATION

On the edge of the tiny village of Cheddon Fitzpaine, three miles outside Taunton.

THE VIBE

Country pile, built in the 18th century and remodelled in the 19th, sitting in 50 glorious acres. Once the family seat of the Warre and Bampfylde families, Hestercombe is now a great place for a day out for everyone else’s family with walks, a restaurant, cafe, art gallery and shops.

The grounds offer a crash course in 400 years of garden design. Spot a cascade waterfall, classical temples, pagoda and other follies on the gentle slopes around the lake in the Georgian landscape garden.

Take a stroll on the Victorian terrace with tree roses straight from the pages of Alice in Wonderland and the archetypal Edwardian formal garden created by dynamic duo Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.

Peekaboo.

The gardens used to be looked after by a huge team of gardeners. Today, it’s down to a head gardener and team of volunteers keep it all to keep it in tip top shape.

SCOFF  & QUAFF

We’d booked for brunch in The Column Room Restaurant – floor-to-ceiling shuttered sash windows, grand piano, grand Corinthian columns and cornicing – overlooking the gardens.

How it used to look. No one told them less is more.

Bucks Fizz?  Yes please.

The menu’s fairly short, with a wooshed up mango topped with roasted pineapple and chia seed granola; a breakfast burger with sausage pattie and healthy wilted spinach; a chorizo and parmesan savoury scone, plus smoked salmon and vegan dishes.

The potato rosti with Hestercombe hot smoked salmon, poached egg and beurre noisette hollandaise was pretty (and) delicious.

For vegans, an enchilada stuffed with vegan sausage and cheese topped with mole sauce. Don’t worry: no moles were hurt in the making of this dish;  ‘mole’  (mo-lay) is a spicy Mexican sauce.

WHAT TO DO?

Aside from the 50 acres of gorgeous grounds? Well there’s an art gallery in the main house, with a rolling programme of exhibitions, currently an exhibition around Lutyens (who designed the Formal Gardens here) on until Sun 27 Oct.  From Weds 18 Sept, there’s  an outdoor exhibition of winners of the International Garden Photographer of the Year 2019 competition – looks good.

Photo Jonathan Need

Discover more about the history of Hestercombe and its 17th century mill workings.

Shop for gifts, plants and secondhand books.

KID FRIENDLY?

Definitely, with trails around the grounds (there were gnomes hidden around the place when we were there), a kids’ play area and fun family events throughout the year.

MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Rock up for brunch in The Column Room Restaurant and a perambulation around the grounds – entry to the Gardens is half price with your booking.

Not for: Anyone wanting to pig out as the brunch is fairly light but then there’s nothing to stop you having a selection of dishes to share, is there?

The damage: Cheap as chips (though no actual chips on the brunch menu).  Vegan sausage enchilada £7.50; hot smoked rosti £8.50.

 

Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 10am–12pm, with last orders 11.30am. Book and you get half price admission to the Gardens (usually £12.50/adults; £6.50/kids 5–15).

 

Hestercombe Gardens, Cheddon Fitzpaine, Taunton, Somerset TA2 8LG. Tel 01823 413923. hestercombe.com

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Somerset