Culinary director Skye Gyngell oversees the food and beverage programs, which encompass several different venues. Much of the produce is grown on-site or sourced from nearby Fern Varrow farm. Seasonality is a key component at Marle, while Hearth uses classic cooking methods over an open flame and is only available to guests on Friday or Saturday evenings (but well worth the wait). Moon Bar, inspired by the lunar phases, showcases tinctures and small-batch spirits and is an ideal spot to reminisce about the day’s adventures.
Be sure to inquire about a tour of the property’s extensive art collection, featuring works by Mary Fedden, Alberto Morocco, and an enchanting painting of Virginia Woolf by Marguerite Darbeur, which can be found in the Long Room, the most coveted suite on the estate.
There is also plenty to explore for those desiring to commune with nature. The lakes and “pleasure grounds,” with their undulating landscapes, date back to the 1820s. Nearby woodlands showcase the horticultural efforts of William Wildsmith. The Assembly, Heckfield Place’s onsite programming, offers a broad range of experiences from movies in its intimate screening room to botanical painting and spirit tastings.
It’s easy to go from feeling like royalty to visiting royalty at nearby Highclere Castle (Newbury RG20 9RN, Tel: +44-163-525-3210, www.highclerecastle.co.uk), home to the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and the setting for the wildly popular Downton Abbey. The film release based on the popular television series bolstered an already Anglophile obsession with the historic property, which epitomized Edwardian opulence upon its 40-year reimagining, completed in 1878. The estate offers a kaleidoscope of riches, from the gothic-style saloon with leather walls and the downstairs staff quarters to the surrounding gardens and grounds.
For a more far-reaching look at England from the Thames River, consider European Waterways’ Magna Carta (Tel: 877-879-8808, www.europeanwaterways.com), an eight-passenger deluxe hotel barge that will whisk you away to some of the country’s most acclaimed sites, including Highclere Castle.
“Highclere Castle looks magnificent on television, but it’s even more impressive in person, with the splendor of its rooms and the castle’s beautiful parkland bringing the magnificence of the drama to life,” says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “Magna Carta’s excursion shows how England’s aristocracy lived, but our guests will also receive the ‘royal treatment’ while on the barge throughout the entire cruise.” Other stops on the cruise include Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and Cliveden Estate (home to the Astor family).
For a more contemporary perspective on design, visit London’s Design Museum (224-238 Kensington High St., Tel: +44-20-3862- 5900, www.designmuseum.org). Its current space occupies a 1960s landmark building in West London. Noteworthy. Upcoming exhibitions include “Waste Age” (Opening Saturday October 23, 2021), which asks the question” “Can design help solve the problem of waste?” Discover how imaginative new approaches and ingenious new materials could shape a cleaner future. Also, don’t miss, “Beazley Designs of the Year,” an annual celebration of the world’s most innovative designers, products, and concepts.