An Inspector Calls… at Beechfield House in Wiltshire, which has a swimming pool and rooms with grand four-poster beds – plus guests can enjoy high tea
- Beechfield House in Wiltshire features 19th-century Italianate architecture
- The Inspector’s room had a four-poster bed and views over the swimming pool
- The dining room was ‘bleak’ but he was impressed with the ‘tasty’ food
Beechfield House, in Wiltshire and not far from Bath, looks like a small Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s palatial home on the Isle of Wight. Both are examples of Italianate architecture, which was prominent in 19th-century England. The aesthetic is a touch too austere and gloomy for me, especially when we arrive as winter darkness descends.
But that’s in stark contrast to what’s going on inside. Smartly attired guests gather in the bar and formal sitting room next door, both warmed by gas fires. They are having high tea.
The woman on reception leads the way up a central staircase to our room on the first floor. She’s originally from Quebec and it’s only her second week working here. If this were an English country house murder mystery, would the culprit be the elegant outsider from Canada or one of the tea-takers?
Beechfield House, in Wiltshire, looks like a small Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s palatial home on the Isle of Wight. Both are examples of Italianate architecture, which was prominent in 19th-century England
Our room, called Apple, has a grand four-poster bed and views out of two large windows over a walled garden and swimming pool. The colour scheme is rich and earthy; the bathroom is windowless and a little poky, but the taps are pumping out hot water.
Before dinner we have a gin and tonic. A young lad called Jake tells us there’s Bombay, Gordon’s or Tanqueray — a short gin selection compared with those offered by hipster hotels. We ask to see the wine list. Jake hands it over and says: ‘Don’t ask me what’s on there, I’m more of a cider man myself.’ We find his honesty refreshing.
The dining room is bleak and has an odd smell about it, rather like an old school canteen. It’s also so quiet that diners are afraid to talk above the decibel level of a ticking watch.
One of the bedrooms at Beechfield House. The Inspector stayed in a room called Apple
The food raises the spirits, though. We can’t resist the chicken liver parfait to start, which is wonderfully creamy. There’s some debate as to whether it goes better with crostini, the chef’s choice, or the still warm focaccia from the bread basket.
As a main course, I opt for the cod with chorizo, and my wife has rump of lamb with winter vegetables. Neither set the gastronmic world on fire, but that’s not the point. It is tried and tested, and tasty, too. We share a dessert of rice pudding laced with cinnamon — a soul-warming sweetener.
At breakfast, I order French toast, only to be served something that looks more like a deep-fried Mars bar. The man on the next table looks happy with his full English. Best stick to what you know.
Beechfield House Hotel, Beanacre, Wiltshire SN12 7PU. B&B doubles from £125. For more information visit beechfieldhouse.co.uk or call 01225 703700.