The Cowdray Estate
The Cowdray estate really does have something for everyone. The family owned estate is set on 16,500 acres of land within the stunning South Downs National Park. Whether it is golf, polo, health and well being a weekend away filled with leisure pursuits or food and drink, all of these things can be found within the estate.
Stefan and I were invited to Cowdray House to have a look around the house which is now used as a venue for exclusive hire. Weddings, corporate retreats, film shoots or house parties to name a few. We were also invited to stay for lunch after the tour to taste some of the new frozen meals that Cowdray Kitchen have just launched.
Stefan and I arrived early so that we could take Humphrey for a walk before lunch. The sun made an appearance as we ambled across the pristine landscape. Pheasants scattered the fields ahead of us, and rolling countryside dominated the view. In the distance we could see the Cowdray ruins which is a honeypot of history, heritage and intrigue. Visited by Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, it was partially destroyed by a fire in 1793.
After dropping Humphrey back at the car we had a walk around the gardens. Again in immaculate condition, it was clear that a lot of time and energy is spent ensuring all 110 acres are very well looked after and maintained. Both an outdoor and indoor swimming pool can also be found at this impressive house, as well as tennis courts. My favourite feature was a lovely bridge over a stream with splashes of vivid colours from the heather that grows on the banks of the stream.
Upon entering the house we were met with an elegant reception room, which is known as Buck Hall. It was breathtaking in beauty as well as in size. We had a tour of the house which includes 22 individually designed luxurious bedrooms with opulent bathrooms. The bedrooms boast impressive views of the South Downs, and an indoor bowling alley can be located on the ground floor of the house. As we were shown around the house it felt like a scene from Alice in Wonderland, all the bedrooms decorated in such a unique way, as well as it being a bit of a maze to get around.
Once the tour of the house was over, we sat down for lunch. All of the team at the house came and sat down for lunch with us, which was lovely and enabled us to get to find out more information about the house as well as the estate that offers so much.
Rupert Titchmarsh the general manager of the farm shop and café introduced Ben Jupp, the head chef. Ben came and spoke to us about the inspiration of the new frozen food selection that the Cowdray Farm Shop and Café now stock. The award-winning farm shop is a bustling business that emphasises its use of locally sourced produce. The shop showcases an array of estate reared meat, including lamb, beef and the wild venison. Ben sowed the seed of creating a frozen meal selection as so many frozen meals are looked down on because they are poor quality.
Ben and his team worked for months combining their knowledge, planning, tasting and perfecting their dishes.
We tried a sample of the whole range of new frozen dishes and none of them disappointed. A firm favorite of ours was the mushroom stroganoff, which is a vegetarian take on the Russian classic. The rich flavours of paprika, cream and brandy burst through with every mouthful. Another one that everyone commented on was the Venison Bordelaise, the venison is estate reared and the meat was full of flavour as well as being tender. All dishes come in aluminum dishes so that they can be recycled at home. The aluminum takes 95% less energy to recycle than it does to produce primary aluminum. Therefore it limits emissions too.
After we finished lunch we were given a goody bag to take home with us, and as Stefan was passed his the team let him know that there was a treat in there for Humphrey. This was not a regular dog treat, this was a Cowdray Estate home made dog shaped, dog treat. It really was such a lovely touch.
The team were brilliant and made us all feel very welcome as well as sharing so much knowledge about the house with us. The food was second to none, and they also cater for large parties, as long as you give 10 days notice they can create dishes for you can even bring in your own oven dishes and they will give them back to you with meals ready to go! Hassle free dinner parties!
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