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Review: Dine and Stay at Weston Park, Shropshire

At Weston Park admire masterpieces, wine, dine sumptuously, drink lots of gin and relax. It's a bit like a heady sleepover in an art gallery.

by Sharron Livingston

It was an intoxicating experience at Weston Park, Shropshire that Saturday evening. Perhaps it was the long, winding road that cuts through 1,000 acres of grazing and Capability Brown landscaped parkland where deers roam freely. Or the splendid Palladian façade of this stately home and the magnificent rollout of marvellous Victorian interiors. Maybe it was the sheer overwhelm of masterpieces, bone china and artworks throughout.

But if I am candid it may also have been the copious amounts of homemade gin imbibed at the tasting in the cellar and the bottomless wine supped during a sumptuous five-course dinner as a Van Dyke portrait masterpiece of Sir Thomas Hammer looked on. He didn’t look impressed.

Dining room with masterpieces

Dining room with masterpieces

Weston Park had been on my radar for some time. For £7.50 I could have enjoyed an intriguing morning shufti of Lord Bradford’s former home. Beneath the daily-dusted chandeliers in every room, are luxuriously upholstered chairs, sedans and settees, while intimate photographs and letters are scattered over carved writing tables. Walls are strewn with masterpieces by George Stubbs, Sir Anthony van Dyke, alongside commissioned portraits of past residents. 

Somewhat incongruent is a stuffed bright yellow parrot, a gift from Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli when it was still alive. It had laid 12 eggs – also on display – after which the parrot died of shock.

It must have been just as shocking for Richard, the 7th Earl of Bradford when he inherited Weston Park in 1984 to find the scurge of death duties meant it was not viable to maintain the house as a private residence. So, in 1986 he gifted Weston Park to the nation for public benefit. In line with this trustees at Weston Park Foundation host lively festivals, airshows, corporate meetings, parties, weddings and Dine and Stay events.

And that’s how I came to be enjoying a Taste of Weston Park. I think of it as a Downton Abbeyesque sleepover with a gracious host, Martin Page, the general manager. There’s no check-in, simply a warm greeting on arrival then to the ensuite bedroom, the Playroom, one of just 27 bedrooms. Spacious, chandeliered with vintage furniture and to my delight Penhaligon’s toiletries.

Playroom bedroom at Weston Park

Playroom bedroom at Weston Park

We had the run of the house and spent time walking through archways, checking out the dimly lit Gobelin tapestry room, lounging by the fireplace, flopping on the settees in the drawing room, and taking a peak at the music room replete with horsey artworks.

At 2pm afternoon tea was served in the library and other guests turned up. Macaron in one hand and tea cup in the other and surrounded by 3,000 books I learned that the house was built in 1671 for Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham who some credit as the architect. That cannot be corroborated, however, we did have sight of her annotated copy of The First Book of Architecture by Andrea Palladio.

It got less studious after the gin tasting in the cellar with Martin. The gin idea was his baby and he loved sharing the spoils, Weston Park Butlers Blend Gin, Weston Park Winter Spice Gin and Weston Park Citrus Burst Gin and still educating us on the botanicals.

Somewhat woozy we slept it off to replenish at 7pm at the drink reception with a glass of bubbly until we were summoned to dinner for a five-course gastronomic dinner at 7.30pm. All the staff were warm, friendly, eager to please and we felt so welcomed.

The starter was white asparagus with a wide ribbon of salmon topped with confit egg yolk and watercress. I had never seen egg yolk served like that and Head Chef Anna Joness, other than admitting it was submerged in oil at 60 degrees centigrade for an unspecified time remained somewhat coy.

After a blood orange sorbet palate cleanser it was the rack of lamb, juicy and soft pressed shoulder (shredded), jersey royals, artichoke, broad beans and peas. The Mr Moyden’s cheese course came – surely a one of its kind cheese board, this was Newport Smoked cheese beignet – fried till sumptuously crispy, a scone infused with nutty Wrekin White cheese and a Wrekin Blue cheese mousse with a fig compote on the side.

Dessert was an unbelievably delicious rhubarb and custard tart with rhubarb sorbet. 

The next day it was back to the dining room for breakfast offering a buffet for cereals and pastry and a menu for a cooked breakfast. We walked this off with a tour around the walled gardens accompanied by the head gardener to see where the vegetables we had eaten were grown. A tour of the Capability Brown landscaped gardens – sunken Italian Gardens, the scented Rose Garden and Lady Anne’s Memorial Garden – was not on our schedule, perhaps next time.

We ended our stay with a cooking class courtesy of sous chef Samantha Lawley. She demonstrated how to make her delicious rhubarb custard pie.

When we were ready to leave, we grabbed our miniature gin bottles generously left for us in the room and as I enjoy my gin and tonic at home I can assure you this was indeed heady stuff.


As well as Dine & Stay Events, Weston Park hosts private celebrations, Christmas Dine and Stays and Weddings in the House and exciting outdoor events in its stunning parkland.

Weston Park is open on various dates throughout the year to visit the House, Park and Gardens and also has an AA Rosette restaurant onsite, The Granary Restaurant, which serves homecooked dishes daily using produce that is grown in Weston’s four-acre Walled Garden.

Although the House is typically a private use venue, Weston also has six uniquely designed, award winning holiday cottages on site sleeping from two to six guests.

Find out more: https://weston-park.com/





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