|The Cornwallis Country Hotel and Restaurant
by Sarah Shuckburgh
This is a pleasant, well-run country hotel, named after
the Cornwallis family, who lived at Brome from medieval
times until the 19th century. In 1561, Sir Thomas Cornwallis
built Brome Hall - then one of the most magnificent houses
in England - and the hotel was originally the dower house,
lived in by the knight's widowed mother. (Two hundred years
later, the most famous of the Cornwallis family - the 2nd
Earl - commanded the British forces in the American War
of Independence, and surrendered to George Washington at
Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, and later became Governor
Today the Tudor parts of the house include an atmospheric
bar, which is open from 11am to 11pm. The beams are
blackened and scorched by centuries of smoke, and the tiled
floor and scrubbed wooden furniture make a cheerful informal
dining room (where we ate a sophisticated and tasty supper
cooked by the new chef, Ricardo). A glass panel in the floor
covers a well, lit to reveal plants clinging to the curved
brick sides, and the water gleaming 40 feet below. There are
also several low-ceilinged 16th century bedrooms, with some
charmingly shaped attic doors and exposed beams.
In 1861, the Reverend George Patterson extended the house to
make a large rectory, decorating his new staircase with
biblical and other improving texts in English and French.
The elegant restaurant and conservatory also date from this
time, and provide airy spaces for formal dining and for
private parties or weddings.
The hotel is agreeably conventional, although every room has
mod cons such as internet connection, sky TV, hairdryer and
trouser press. Bedroom decoration is calm, with comfortable
sofas and sturdy period furniture, including four-poster
beds and heavy wooden desks.
The Cornwallis stands in 20 acres of gardens and fields, and
guests are greeted by a splendid avenue of limes, and then
some wonderfully quirky topiary - round-headed giants
holding hands. The 15-foot yews are known as the seven
sisters, and indeed some of them stand in groups of seven,
but there are dozens dotted about the gravel. Alas, the red
brick walls of the Victorian vegetable garden today surround
nothing but grass. Beyond, in a field, guests can try
archery every Sunday, and hot air balloons take off from
here every fine weekend, or by arrangement.
The Cornwallis is in the heart of East Anglia, two miles
from the historic market towns of Diss in Norfolk, and Eye
in Suffolk. The hotel would make a good base for exploring
the Waveney valley, the Norfolk broads, and beautiful towns
such as Lavenham, Long Melford, Norwich and Bury St Edmunds.
The coastal towns of Great Yarmouth, Aldeburgh, Southwold
and Walberswick are also within easy reach.
The Cornwallis Country Hotel and Restaurant
Suffolk IP23 8AJ
First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd