Enchanted Place On The Hill - Boringdon Hall | Daily News

Enchanted Place On The Hill - Boringdon Hall

Like turning St Annes into Staines, the English have done it again with the name Boringdon, which sounds like a droning Oxford professor, but really, when you look through the dull exterior of these names you, more often than not, find that they mean something quite interesting and here we have a case in point. The name comes from Saxon, ‘Burth-Y-Don’ meaning ‘enchanted place on the hill’.

Not knowing this on my journey through a narrow tree-lined country lane, I have no definite feelings of anticipation as we turn the corner and sort of slip into the grounds, as if entering an exquisite painting from the bottom corner, to reveal an exceptionally old - parts of it date back to the tenth century - and grand looking manor house, across a flat and beautiful garden, bedecked with flowers and metal sculpted furniture on the lawn that has been arranged to look out across the valley - a breathtaking view of Plympton and its valley, and on this particularly fine evening, we felt like kings and queens returning from a day of hunting in the wonderful Plympton Woods with its meandering river, slate mine and mysterious ruins.

As we entered the Great Hall through the lion flanked stone archway, I had that exciting feeling that reminded me of sweeping into grand houses, where balls were held in my youth, and after sinking into a sofa by the roaring fire, I ordered a Boringdon gin and tonic from the lovely attentive bar staff. Half imagining as my eyes wandered around the oak paneled room, Sir Francis Drake and his peers arriving after his singeing of the King of Spain’s beard. What a party that must have been and this is indeed where it famously took place! Flushed with his massive success in destroying and distressing Armada galleons, el Draque, as the Spanish called him, after giving his partner in crime, Queen Elizabeth I, her share of the loot, and typical of sailors of the time, would have drunk more booze than ever before with his fellow knights, Walter Raleigh, William and John Parker, Richard Grenville and uncle John Hawkins. Ironically, Drake and William Parker, when they weren’t saving the realm or being top pirates, I mean privateers, both had a spell as the Lord Mayor of Plymouth proving politics was fair game even then for anyone. Everywhere in the Hall there are paintings of these heroes of old and other characters from the Tudor period, all with fascinating descriptions of those they depict. These can be seen on the dark wood panelling, up staircases with their elegant cracked oak bannisters. In the grand the gallery that overlooks the main sitting room and monster fireplace, you can eat the delicious food of the Boringdon head chef that is well known for his work with Britains top leading actor Michael Caine. One can quite imagine him striding in and say “Not gods “ Englishmen. The next best thing “ and for men who want to be reminded how great they were and always will be this is the place to stay. A building that has always inspired the spirit of exploration and innovation. Something one can see from the exciting calendar of events held in the grounds, that now includes trying artisan gins at the yearly bank holiday weekend May gin festival.

However bowled over you are by the hall, I am told by the waitors that the majestic bedrooms are the icing on the cake with their sturdy four poster dark oak ornately carved king size beds, and luxurious freestanding baths

As the world has changed from exploration to collaboration, so has Boringdon as they know duals are no long de regueur they have created a gym and Gaia Spa that is the talk of the South West. Here work and workouts have replaced pistols at dawn. Today we can relax and reincarnate our Greco-Roman forebears in spacious saunas, an infinity pool that can lead you outside to be at one with nature and best of all the Gaia Spa for one of the most sublime of human experiences, the body massage and Indian head massage clearing one of months of unwanted stress. There are few more pleasurable feelings than drifting into that other place for an hour or so, where the body is treated to the very best in manipulation and reawaking aromas.

One guest describes it well enough, “I had the back ritual, which was one of those moments in life you never want to end.” The word ritual is no accident - this is bordering on a euphoric experience for those able to completely let go. The staff are exceptional in this respect - highly trained, extremely attentive, not imposing but there if needed, “We were greeted with a huge smile and treated like royalty,” comments another highly satisfied guest, but maybe the top quote, “The spa is fabulous, the bar and restaurant are great but best of all are the staff which are polite and professional and for whom nothing is too much trouble.” There really is something for everyone here - any part of the body with any treatment using crystals, stones, poultices, acupuncture needles, jade, wax or water. Four hands, facials, reflexology, manicure, pedicure, painting, tinting, highlighting, waxing and then waxing lyrical with your special other half in the joint Zeus and Hera day package that finishes up in a private room with chocolate and champagne - I can see Drake rushing back from the forest on his fiery steed for this one.

Magical it surely is with its ability to make every one feel like an A-list star and being the oldest of Plymouth’s secluded gems, Boringdon Hall, the enchanted place on the hill. I can be sure of one thing as I step out into the grand drive way it will still be bewitching the world with its historic charms four hundred years from now.


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