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Miller's at Glencot House - Review

EVEN JANE AUSTEN couldn’t have painted a more fetching setting for flirtatious liaisons than the gardens of Glencot House. Lizzie would have swooned had Darcy launched his charm offensive here where the River Axe meanders past an emerald lawn dappled by huge swaying trees and studded with small lantern-topped tables made for shared whispers.

But it’s inside this Jacobean style manor house tucked down a country lane that the real surprises start. Walk inside, and you might have stepped through the looking glass on to an operatic film set bursting with more theatrical props than Aladdin’s cave.

Antiques supremo Martin Miller has filled Glencot House with an eclectic mix of the grand, the quirky and the eye-catching. Huge stuffed peacocks, chandeliers, sculptures, porcelain and objets d’art are scattered around with such apparent abandon that you might have arrived at an eccentric collector friend’s country pile. Just clock the grand piano, oil paintings, piles of books – everything from ancient classics to the latest Joanna Trollope – and bowls of marble eggs.

Glimmering candles

Candles glimmer everywhere, a suit of armour glints in the shadows, a fire flickers in the huge inglenook fireplace while curtains are opulently swagged against mullioned windows. There’s even the odd dash of pure kitsch – a singing reindeer called Buck with a feisty rendition of Home on the Range.

We arrived on a late summer’s afternoon, dawdling under the trees while listening to the soporific thwack of leather on willow from a neighbouring meadow as the village cricket team warmed up. Tempted though we were to order afternoon tea on the lawn or to bury our noses in a book beside the water, we wandered the delightful paths along the river’s edge, cooing at each other briefly in the giant birdcage and stumbling on little secret seats and shaded bowers.

Our wanderings left us just enough time for a shower before dinner. A rather endearing note in our bathroom advised us that in a place as old as this, we shouldn’t expect to be drenched in gallons of piping hot water the instant we turned the taps on. But the plumbing was certainly behaving itself, as hot water seemed in plentiful supply.

Each bedroom seduces in its own way. Ours was a bold mix of Wedgwood-plate wallpaper, lustrous beaded lamps straight out of an art nouveau boudoir, bird’s eye views over the lawn, and a bathroom painted in raspberry-sherbet pink. Plenty of rooms have four-posters, and we spied another dominated by the bed, where – in a clever coup de théàtre – a picture of a dark-eyed female gazes from behind a veil directly at any naughty goings-on.

After pouring ourselves a couple of drinks from the well-stocked honesty bar downstairs and ensconcing ourselves in the book-filled lounge, it was time to dine. Our window table gave us a front-stalls view of the now twilit grounds, and was worth the wait.

My man guzzled a starter of crispy pork belly with caramelised apples, Somerset cider and shallot compote, then sliced his way into a hearty beef sirloin. My pan-fried red mullet with herb risotto and ratatouille nicoise was delicious, and we shared a very more-ish Eton mess afterwards. Friendly staff with refreshingly local accents kept our glasses well filled.

Had we had more energy we might have tried out the plunge pool or sauna downstairs, or curled up with a DVD in Glencot’s private cinema. But after a moonlit meander across the dew-drenched lawn our private quarters beckoned and we scampered off upstairs.

Miller’s at Glencot House was reviewed for Room for Romance by Sian Davies

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