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Lords of the Manor
Upper Slaughter, Cotswolds

by Sarah Shuckburgh

The Lords of the Manor hotel - one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World - stands at the edge of one of the most unspoilt villages in the Cotswolds. Built of honey-coloured stone on the site of a house once owned by Henry VIII, the 17th-century Manor looks on to eight acres of rolling park land, with a walled courtyard garden at the back. Inside, the hotel is comfortable and welcoming, with antique furniture, fresh flowers and open fires. This is the only hotel in Gloucestershire with a Michelin star, and the food is superb. Peace and quiet is guaranteed, with no background music anywhere in the hotel.

In the hall, you will shrink under the icy stare of Lady Lyttleton, whose grim-faced portrait hangs above the heads of the smiling receptionists. An aunt of Reverend Witts - owner of the Manor in the early 19th century - her Ladyship tries to draw your attention to an improving passage in her bible.

All the bedooms are different. The Tracy is the most romantic, with antique four-poster bed, freestanding cast-iron bath beneath the mullioned window and a walk-in double shower with two overhead jets. The room is named after Ferdinando Tracy Travell, who owned the Manor in the late 18th century. His portrait hangs in the garden room, and his coat of arms adorns the drawing room fireplace.

The newly-decorated Witts room has a huge cushioned seat filling the bay window. Lie back and gaze at peaceful views of the park, the willow-fringed pond, and the tiny river Slaughter. The Witts family owned the house for 200 years, and the hotel is full of their portraits, books, and furniture. When Tracy Travell died, his nephew, the Reverend Francis Edward Witts, became Rector and Lord of the Manor. The title passed from father to son, via three clergymen, and then three army officers, most of them called Francis Edward or Edward Francis. The present Francis Witts sold the house in 1985, but still lives in the village.

Downstairs, the drawing room and the bar have log fires and huge mullioned windows overlooking the park. There is also a writing room and a library. The restaurant - added 12 years ago - overlooks the courtyard garden and has well-spaced tables. The old pantry, the garden room and the conservatory make elegant private dining rooms. The 17th century wine cellars hold an enormous stock of interesting wines.

British chef Toby Hill offers a "tasting menu" with seven delectable courses, coffee and truffles, and a glass of Dom Perignon 1995. (The hotel cat, a ginger stray, is also called Dom Perignon.)

For bedtime reading, the hotel can lend you a copy of "The Diary of a Cotswold Parson", a chronicle of 19th century rural life by one of the lords of this manor, Reverend FE Witts. Alternatively, choose Milton's "Paradise Lost", reputedly penned at Eyford, half a mile upstream.

The name Slaughter comes from Sclostre - a muddy place - and the Slaughter Brook still flows right through the
village, past the Norman church and between 300-year-old houses of golden Cotswold stone. Half a mile downstream is the equally enchanting village of Lower Slaughter, with its mill wheel still turning. The Warden's Way footpath passes the hotel, and there are wonderful walks in all directions from here. The lovely market town of Stow on the Wold is
three miles away.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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