Imagine what it would be like to live in a giant country house for a week or two. How would you spend your time? Here are six sources of entertainment, providing you and your family with memories that last a lifetime.
There’s lots of fun and adventure waiting for you at a country house…
1. Play A Spot Of Croquet
The first recorded incidence of people playing croquet is believed to be in 13th century France after a group of peasants fashioned some hoops and roughly hewn mallets to whack wooden balls. Over time, the rules of the sport developed, and by the time many of the manor houses were built in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it had become a sport of the wealthy and aristocratic.
Do you want to try your hand at playing a spot of croquet? Manor houses provide the perfect backdrop for this quintessentially upper-class sport, allowing you to enjoy one of the preserves of the aristocracy with the whole family. Both kids and parents alike love croquet, making it a fun activity that is suitable for all ages. Why let a perfectly manicured lawn go to waste? Try croquet this summer!
2. Visit The Tennis Courts
Henry VIII built the first indoor tennis court in England at Hampton Court Palace. Back in the sixteenth century only the very richest family in the land – the Royal Family – could afford such a lavish project. Over time, however, the wealthy landed classes began building their own tennis courts, and soon you could hardly find a manor house in the kingdom that didn’t have one.
The summer is a great time for playing tennis: the weather is fair and the evenings long. Many manor houses have their own tennis courts for you to enjoy, sometimes indoors and sometimes in private, walled gardens. What better way to keep fit and enjoy your surroundings?
3. Take Long Walks In Stunning Surroundings
Back in the heyday of the country manor house, the competition was hot. Nobles competed with one another to create the most beautiful homes and gardens. Though it might seem unlightened from our perspective today, the results of this competition are nothing short of stunning. Many country houses have acre after acre of gardens and woodland, perfect for long walks for all the family. You get to enjoy the spectacular scenery while walking among some of the best private gardens in the country. Country house gardens are brimming with wildlife too, making them a great spot for nature-lovers.
4. Enjoy Your Own Private Swimming Pool
If you’ve always been put off the idea of going swimming because of the public baths, then spending time at a country house might be just what you need. Country houses often come with their own private swimming pools, both indoor and out. They are clean, safe and, most importantly, fun – ideal for when you need to cool off after a hot summer’s day.
When you’ve got your own private swimming pool, you can go whenever you like, be it early in the morning before anybody else is awake, or late at night to relax before you go to bed.
5. Put On A Banquet
Banqueting defines the history of country houses. When an estate knew it was going to receive a distinguished visitor, the kitchens sprung into action, often hiring dozens of chefs to prepare extravagant meals. Livestock would be brought to the manor house from far and wide, including overseas. It was a sign of wealth and prestige and an important way of projecting one’s power.
The signs of all this activity remain at country houses today, with their giant banqueting halls and enormous kitchens. If you’re planning on staying at a country house this summer, you could prepare your own banquet to celebrate your holiday and enjoy precious time with loved ones.
6. Dine Al Fresco
One of the principal joys of the summer is being able to live life outside. And what better way to do just that than dining al fresco in beautiful surroundings? Many of the best manor houses in the country have extensive patios, beautiful pavilions and shaded areas in their gardens to enjoy food out in the open, just as nature intended. Sit and relax, sip wine, drink whiskey and munch your way through delicious steak and pommes frites while enjoying the company of your family and friends. Eat into the evening and wait for dusk before settling down in the living room for a spot of cocoa or whiskey before bed.