Stratford last week, Chester earlier this week and now, much closer to home, a little miniature stately home near Dovedale. Any one who has walked round Dovedale and Ilam may have seen a sign to ‘Casterne’, some of you may have wandered down the road or across the fields, and if you’d persisted, really persisted, in spite of signs advising ‘No Through Road’, you might have eventually seen a small big house perched on top of a hill. No farmhouse this, it really is ‘grandeur in miniature’, looking Georgian but actually that just reflects the latest renovation…
John and I had visited before, socially (so one could not obviously snoop around) a few years ago, but this time we were definitely in swooping mode, having been invited to do just that, as part of a group from Visit Peak District. 55 of us landed on Charles and Caroline Hurt this morning to learn more about Casterne Hall and their plans to make the best use of their home in ways that might help us and our guests.We were greeted warmly and instantly, coffee and cakes were offered and gratefully consumed in their warm kitchen as we had arrived windswept and wet, in some pretty miserable weather. Then, miraculously, the sun came out, and streamed through all the windows showing the house in all its ‘small big house’ charm.
We were given an introductory talk by Charles Hurt, whose family have owned Casterne Hall for well over 500 years, but it is believed that there has been a dwelling on the site since possibly before Roman times. The building has been pulled down, rebuilt and restored numerous times over the centuries, but Charles and Caroline have contented themselves with making the interior wonderfully comfortable, warm and stylish. It is first and foremost a family home, but they also run it as a very superior B & B, one can get married there, and host lunch or dinner parties or corporate team building occasions or even a dance. It is also used as a film location.
Casterne Hall is not normally open to visitors, except by prior arrangement for groups of ten or more, and for 28 days in the summer. For this and all other information, I’d recommend you look at their website.You could combine a visit to Casterne with a trip to Ilam Park, owned and run by the National Trust. The park is delightful, and the tea rooms excellent (we had a lovely bowl of soup there today). The shop is great, too, with lots of lovely and interesting things, including local maps and guide books. It is run by our friend Clare so do say hi to her if you see her!
For those of our guests here just before Christmas there is good news! You have a chance to enjoy a Christmas tea party at Casterne Hall on December 17, 18, 19 & 20 at 3 pm. It will cost £12 per head and you need to book in advance by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01335 310 489.
You might well meet John and me there, as we are very tempted to go too!