Trivago Travel Tuesday returns us for the second part of our trip to southwest England to the Cotswolds, an area that has long been one of England’s favorite destinations. The Cotswolds is one of the most ‘quintessentially English’ and unspoiled regions of England.
We were fortunate to stay at Ellenborough Park, a 15th Century house on the original Cheltenham racecourse estate that has been restored as an exceptional luxury hotel. Located in Cheltenham Spa, the hotel is well located as a start point for an exploration of the Cotswold region and its multiplicity of attractions.
Few historic houses can match Sudeley Castle & Gardens’ long, curious and fascinating history. With royal connections stretching back over 1,000 years, the castle has played an important role in England’s history, with visitors now able to walk in the footsteps of kings and queens including Richard III, Elizabeth I and Lady Jane Grey. And, as Gailen and Bobby learned, it is also the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds. The last of Henry VIII’s six wives, Katherine Parr lived and died in the castle. She is now entombed in a beautiful 15th Century church found within the gardens.
Sudeley Castle’s magnificent gardens are world-renowned, providing magnificent displays from spring through autumn. The showstopper is the Queens Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once admired the hundreds of varieties of roses found in the garden. Equally delightful is the secluded East Garden, which is neighbored by St Mary’s Church. This is bordered by the White Garden, where Katherine Parr and her companion, Lady Jane Grey would have entered the church for daily prayers. It is no wonder that the gardens are popular sites for weddings.
There is also an owlery, pheasantry, adventure playground with picnic area, gift shop and restaurant in the old medieval banqueting hall available for visitor convenience.
Afternoon Tea or High Tea?
One of the quintessential British customs is Afternoon Tea which Bobby and Gailen enjoyed at Ellenborough Park. In Britain tea is not just a beverage, it is a meal. As Afternoon Teas have become popular in America, what to call it has often been confused.
Tea as a drink was fashionable in Britain by end of the 17th century, but it did not refer to a meal until 1840 when Anna, the duchess of Bedford, asked for cake to be served with her cup of tea to tide her over until dinner. Soon Anna’s aristocratic friends were also adopting tea and cake as an afternoon snack, leading to the practice being named “Afternoon Tea.”
Many Americans call the practice “High Tea,” but this isn’t correct. A proper “High Tea” is a more substantial meal. Although it can include cakes and pastries, it also includes pies, cold meats, salads and other heavier fare. High Tea is an outgrowth of the Industrial Revolution when factory workers worked long hours and needed a meal they could eat away from home around 6 PM.
An article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper of 1893 describes the meal: “A well-understood ‘high tea’ should have cold roast beef at the top of the table, a cold Yorkshire pie at the bottom, a mighty ham in the middle. The side dishes will comprise soused mackerel, pickled salmon (in due season), sausages and potatoes etc., etc. Rivers of tea, coffee and ale, with dry and buttered toast, sally-luns, scones, muffins and crumpets, jams and marmalade.” A light supper, such as a sandwich, followed later in the evening.
Ellenborough Park’s Executive Head Chef David Kelman
One of the perks of our job is getting to meet many fine chefs. Bobby was able to meet with David Kelman, Ellenborough Park’s Executive Head Chef who demonstrated his take on classic Chateaubriand. It was an honor to meet Chef Kelman who has been privileged to cook for none other than Her Majesty the Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales. He has worked with some of the most prestigious hotels in the country, gaining Ellenborough Park 3 AA rosettes. Most recently he won Chef of the Year in the Cotswold Life Food and Drink Awards 2013, securing himself as a highly respected and creative chef.
When you visit make it a priority to have a meal at Ellenborough Park so you can taste for yourself the artistry of Chef Kelman featuring classic British dishes with a modern twist, all based around the finest local ingredients.
We found a great place for a day out for families and anyone who loves owls, falcons, eagles and other birds of prey.
Started in 1988 Cotswold Falconry houses around 150 Birds of Prey. Many can be seen during the exciting free flying demonstrations. The aim of the centre is to promote the greater understanding of birds of prey through education and fun. Over 20,000 visitors arrive each year, many of them students on field trips. See their web page for a listing of interesting tours and events.
In addition to the daily demonstration of free flying birds of prey you can follow the path through the “Owl woods” a natural setting where birds are encouraged to breed as they would in their native environment.