Welcome to Northcote's Blog
The First Wine Club Lunch
Our very first wine club lunch was put on by our Bar manager Mitch and local wine enthusiast and local wine trader Charlie cotton of Bray Valley wines. Each diner had the opportunity to taste four courses of delicious Devonshire cuisine and try four accompanying wines that were matched to the flavours of the food.
The next wine tasting will be on Wednesday 15th June and will focus on Local English Wines in particular Sharpham wines, hosted by Steevenson Wines. £40 per person for all wines and four course lunch - booking essential.
Mirror, Mirror on the all who’s the fayrest of them all?
on the 6th March 2011 the time had come for the team at Northcote Manor to indulge once again in a magnificent traditional afternoon tea in celebration of the annual wedding fayre. All the ingredients to the perfect tea party were present, even the sun showed its demure face.
Penny Bacon from Country Crockery in Kings Nympton ( email@example.com) was kind enough to provide the most exquisite traditional cream tea crockery, pearls and bunting which we dotted through the house. Lora a member of the Northcote team was assigned to decorating our sanctuary for the Traditional cream tea which she absolutely loved ~ needles to say, she disappeared for a couple of hours!
Richie and the team in the kitchen baked up a storm, producing mouth-watering fairy cakes warm scones with dollops of North Devon clotted cream and scrumptiously sweet strawberry jam. Between Northcote’s delightful sweet treats and those of first time exhibitor Leisa Hood from Devon Catering guests were spoilt for choice and no one left hungry!
Charlie from Bray Valley wine supplied a lovely Prosecco, received amiably by guests. The bar was the wine tasting post and guest were tempted with wine perfectly suited to a consummate function. New world favorites and old classics were carefully selected to accompany Richie’s menus.
The scene wouldn’t be complete without the enchanting sound of Siona Stockel’s harp wafting through the hotel from the lounge. The atmosphere was luxurious and tranquil and guests were pampered by Josie Lock, Claire Mathers and Tracy from Chi, Mind Body & Spirit (http://www.chimindbodyandspirit.co.uk/ ) .
Feedback from guests and exhibitors were great and all the exhibitors will be back next year!
Grand Designs at Northcote Manor
Northcote Manor is a beautiful 17th century building rich in character, every brick and curve revealing bits of history from different eras. The mantra here at Northcote is to stay a while in timeless tranquillity, something guests find so easy to do. The beauty of this place truly is timeless and it has been noted time and time again how warming, welcoming and calming the atmosphere is at Northcote Manor.
Once these beautiful grounds represented a sanctuary to the Benedictine monks who loved and cared for it, one could argue that the calmness and serenity that engulfs you as you walk through the front door is somehow spiritually connected with the monks. The historic walled garden and a ruins in the gardens are very effective reminders of these simpler times.
Northcote Manor as it stands today truly is a grand design, It is a small country house with an air of calmness and serenity often lost in large country houses which can have a strong sense of austerity. The most important running theme in the ‘new- build’ (garden wing) is that it will be an asset to Northcote, aesthetically pleasing whilst still honouring 18th century architecture and keeping the integrity of the original manor.
‘Architecture is a continuing dialogue between generations which creates an environment across time’.- Vincent Scully
The garden wing has been a project on everyone’s minds for over 3 years, the foundations being laid summer 2008. The unfortunate onslaught of the recession in January 2009 meant that the foundation of the new ‘Garden Wing’ were to remain exactly that… just a foundation. As the recession intensified Northcote saw one of its busiest summers, totally contradicting the dire forecast for the South West. Mr Mifsud announced in November 2009 that the new build was to continue after a long anticipating wait.
Once the magnificent frame of the new build went up, everything fell into perspective. It was at this stage that we inaugurated the new build as the ‘Garden Wing’ Inspired by the lustrous biome that exists within the large hoary walls dragonflies, butterflies, velvety green hills, sheep, daffodils, Magnolia Tree, all in view from the Garden wing. What a dreamy place to relax and unwind. Mario Pei once said that Good architecture lets nature in and that is exactly what the garden wing does so well.
Mike Hiscock and his team are responsible for the transformation of the new build into the garden wing. Merging an 18th century building with a new build with 21st century demands does not go without its hick- ups, however over all this has been a smooth process . Work is about to commence on phase two of the project and we aim to have a completed building by mid June.
Allure of 1920 glam, the inspiration of the Great Gatsby Ball
Al Capone and his notorious Chicago gang might have been formidable, but there is something glamorous in the rebellious ways of the 1920. For the first time society started breakaway from stiff Edwardian fashions and customs, fashion and music became ‘cool’ for the first time and dancing was the new craze. Fashion took a dramatic turn and the 1920’s was the epitome to Coco Chanel’s fashion as we know it today. Parisian woman would not be seen without their cloves on during the day, but they came off at night to show of bare forearm ~ perhaps a bit promiscuous to the traditional Edwardian. Everything was about strait lines, streamlines, fast moving, cars, faster trains, beautiful curves it was all getting bigger, better, cooler. With the birth of the Art Deco Movement everything just became so very modern over night.
All that Jazz:
‘Art Deco’ Jazz band certainly created their own commemoration of Jazz and the 1920 in the luxurious Devon location; Northcote Manor Hotel. They had all of us under their spell with classics such as the ‘St. Louis Blues’ by WC Hardy and ‘Old Man River’swinging away until midnight.
The Jazz movement became known as the Devil’s music; as much as the popularity of this new sound spread it was countered with controversy. Jazz was slated by well respected publicists such as The New York Times. But the cool swing of the Jazz musicians soon had the whole world under their spell.
Cheryl and the team, inspired by the bootlegging past, transformed Northcote Manor into an elegant 1920 hang out that would get the approval from A list celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway and all four of his wives. The glamorous table decorations vaunted lush peacock feathers and pearls whilst the rest of the house had vintage red wine magnums arranged perfectly to ad to the ambiance.
We lucky Brits managed to escape the bazaar social experiment which was the prohibition of alcohol in the United States in the 20’s. This embargo didn’t stop our cross Atlantic neighbors though, in fact, it only exacerbated gang life creating a means of income on the black market for Al Capone and other gangsters alike.
Cocktails became very popular to conceal the often veil taste of home brewed hooch. Mojito was popular in 20’s, but they were very popular with Northcote guests too. Other gangster themed cocktails had guests talking too, great classic cocktails with a twist and the Northcote stamp all over it … Fitzgerald, Charleston, Moonshine, Gangsters & The Great Gatsby indulged guests all evening.
We all had such an enjoyable evening and these memories are captured in style. Adrian from Kensa photography knows Northcote really well and really captured the spirit of the Gatsby Ball at Northcote Manor.
Bon Voyage Barry, Bienvenue Matthew
"But each spring...a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground." -- Lewis Gantt
Northcote Manor said bon voyage to a long time colleague and friend, Barry Davies who decided to retire and start the next chapter in his life as an adventurous traveller. Barry understood the culture and ethos of Northcote Manor which shone through in his mammoth task of maintaining 20 acres of beautiful gardens and woodlands here at Northcote Manor.
Barry personified the grounds at Northcote with the passion and dedication in a way only a true lover of nature and the outdoors can. You would often see him in the distance with guests identifying different trees and shrubs encouraging an admiration for gardening and nature.
We would like to thank Bazz for the tremendous hard work and dedication he has put in through the years. He has a very special place in our hearts and we wish him all the best in his new life adventure. ~ Cheryl King
Matthew is the newest member to the Northcote team and he is just as zealous about putting his mark on the grounds whilst maintaining its integrity. Matthew is quite exited about tackling our historical orchard which already boasts a dozen apple varieties and there is even talk of starting our very own Northcote Manor seasonal garden in effort to increase our sustainability. A little something for all of us to get exited about, Richie and the boys in the kitchen get to experiment with their own home grown produce whilst the rest of the team get to ‘sample’ delicious recipes. We will cherry pick the most delicious of them all leaving a truly organic ultra delicious and sustainable menu for our guests to indulge in.
AA Housekeeper of the Year 2010 Awards
Northcote Manor, Burrington, Umberleigh, North Devon EX37 9LZ
The polish that makes the housekeeping team shine!
Richie and the team at Northcote would very much like to announce that our Head Housekeeper Stephanie Wooldridge has been named a finalist in the national AA 2010 ‘Housekeeper of the Year’ competition. Thousands of entries were submitted and Steph was placed in the top three in the country, treated to a fabulous celebratory lunch in one of London’s Michelin Star restaurants and given a framed certificate for all her hard work.
Steph who was born and raised in Burrington has worked tirelessly at Northcote Manor for many years and has lead a very successful and happy housekeeping team. Our inspections are always flawless when it comes to housekeeping and this is a huge part of the overall achievement of the whole team that makes up the backbone of Northcote Manor.
It should be stressed that there is nothing that is too much trouble for Steph, she will help a guest with bags, she will chat to them about the area and give directions and pointers about where to go. As a true Devonshire ‘Maid’ she knows exactly how to show off Devon to all our visitors.
“During the recent snow Steph became not just the head housekeeper but a huge part of every department as she became the self appointed courier in her land rover. She pulled out stuck cars from the perilous drive way and she did a huge detour around icy country lanes just to pick up deliveries and drop of linens at the bottom of our steep wooded mile long impassable driveway. In honesty without her the hotel would have been without many essentials perched high on the hill.” Cheryl King General Manager
Triple Scoop for Luxury Hotel Northcote Manor
Top luxury hotel, Northcote Manor near Umberleigh has received three wonderful pieces of good news in so many weeks. The three AA red star hotel set in twenty acres of mature grounds and woodlands just twenty minutes from Barnstaple has been nominated for two extremely prestigious awards and has won another.
The first announcement came from the highly regarded South West Tourism Excellence Awards when Cheryl King, General Manager was named a Finalist in the 'Outstanding Customer Service Award' Cheryl said " I was extremely surprised to have been named a finalist because my team did not tell me that they had entered me! I am however, absolutely thrilled and winning would make my ten years of management even more special"
The second piece of news was that the Manor House Restaurant at Northcote Manor, an intimate candle lit dining room won a Silver in the Taste of the West Awards. Ambitious Head Chef Richie Herkes is "Very pleased with this achievement but gunning for Gold in 2011"
The third announcement came from the very prestigious Conde Nast Johansens Guide as Northcote was nominated 'Most Excellent Small Hotel' in the Annual Awards for Excellence 2011 The hotel did win a similar accolade from Johansens in 2002 when we were 'Country House Hotel of the Year' but to win a second accolade would be phenomenal.
The results will be announced for both nominations in November so, watch this space, we will be in touch...