Nestled in Buckinghamshire’s Chiltern Hills is the historic mansion house estate know as De Vere Latimer Estate, having recently undergone an impressive £7m refurbishment, that has seen many of the property’s original features kept along with modern day twists, that have come together to create a stunning retreat to escape to.
The De Vere Latimer is steeped in history, built on the site of an original Elizabethan manor house, which was destroyed by fire in the early 1830s, it was rebuilt in 1838. Also known as ‘The Spy House’ because of its top-secret project run by the British Secret Service during WW2. Housing German prisoners who were then bugged to obtain vital intelligence, James Bond the ultimate British Spy certainly wouldn’t feel out of place here, especially as Post-war, the house is rumoured to have been an MI6 training college and secret tunnels remain below the building to this day.
Pulling up to the impressive building, the history of the house ids evident, there’s a restored Morris Minor parked outside, the entrance hall has
old fashioned typewriters and telephones on display along with wartime photographs dotted around the walls. There’s a row of Hunter Boots in different sizes for you to use for muddy walks, along with umbrellas and bicycles (it’s the finishing touches that always count and De Vere Latimer have definitely thought of all of those).
The lobby is a lovely space, with high ceilings and stained glass leaded windows, sofas and a drinks cabinet that is housed in an old suitcase all add to the grandeur of the house and the feature carved stone fireplace, where two real life looking straw dogs reside, really does make you look twice.
Every corner you turn there’s another piece of history like the original wooden staircase that leads to the 31 deluxe rooms and suites. Speaking of rooms ours was a superb space, a deluxe room, located in the Mansion House with magnificent views stretching across the garden and the river Chess. Decorated in neutral tones, with herringbone check curtains and bed throw, and dotted with traditional and modern accessories – including of course a flat screen TV and digital radio.
The pull of the views were too much for us, so once unpacked we sat outside, sipping a glass of wine and just took in the peace and tranquility of the vast views and nature, wondering if there was anyone spying on us from behind one of the many trees!
Dinner is served in the aptly named 1838 restaurant. A bright and airy space inspired by nature, that has you feeling like your dining al fresco, a glass ceiling, indoor trees and a bandstand that takes centre stage (you can eat in here). The kitchen is open plan so you can watch the chefs at work, knowing you cant get food any fresher than this.
We enjoyed appetizers of mixed olives and Moroccan hummus, before deciding on warm duck leg salad and king prawn and crab mayo salad, both dishes were fresh and full of flavour. Steak and sea bream with scallops followed, the steak was cooked to perfection and the sea bream was fresh and tasty with the scallops being juicy and tender.
The dessert menu looked full of sweet delights, but I was just too full to indulge, although hubbie didn’t have that trouble and enjoyed the delights of the triple chocolate fudge brownie accompanied by poached cherries and vanilla ice cream before heading to the Huntley Bar, for a nightcap before retiring for a blissful nights sleep.
Decisions, decisions, morning walk or breakfast or breakfast or morning walk and so it went until the smell of food proved too much and lured us to eat first. Breakfast is buffet style with a selection of fresh pastries and breads, fresh fruit, yoghurts and cereals as well as meat and vegetable hot breakfast choices, definitely enough to set you up for the day.
As we wandered round the gardens, it easy to see why this elegant house is a popular retreat to escape to with it’s stunning views, perfectly kept gardens, grand house and historic past – it’s somewhere you need to pay a visit to, who knows what you’ll find lurking behind the walls.