A Sleepover At Brownber Hall
On those occasions when you decide to take yourself away from your home, the familiar, the comfortable so that you may spend a night or more taking in the pleasures of some place new, how important it becomes to find a resting spot that will still serve you with the home comforts that you’ve left behind. A bolthole that sees you not as a guest but as a member of its household is a rare find, and a bolthole that does such and delivers in respect of detail in design is ever more so. When one is encountered we log it so as to never forget it when we one day wish to return to explore familiar ground, and we share it so that others may delight as we did. So then to a most recent and much-needed discovery – for we were yet to find the perfect resting place in Cumbria. A private rental residence, a secluded and most spectacular shelter, a home from home – Brownber Hall.
The creation of the ever-so hospitable and generous Amanda and Peter, Brownber is set in the charmingly named Howgill Fells, a stone’s throw from the Lake District, a mere drive from the Yorkshire Dales, and on the very doorstep of cow and sheep pastures so that the only sound to be heard upon waking are cheery moos and the chatty bleats.
Grey-stoned and grand from the exterior, the Victorian facade offers a hardy first impression that ensures you feel most protected from the harsh weather that whips its walls come wintertime. Though, once inside, the tale is one of contrast. Gentle jazz pours out upon entry, a hug of warmth from the cast iron radiators and crackling log fire lit in anticipation of arrival – a gesture most-appreciated for we had been rather rained upon when we had the pleasure of staying the night. Further thoughtfulness abounds from the homemade lemon drizzle that rested beneath a glass cloche – made dairy free to cater to our every dietary whim – and the homemade supper that stands in the fridge for later – a portobello mushroom wellington, buttered leeks and kale plus potatoes en papillote in our case (Amanda was trained at Leith’s so the food is unsurprisingly scrumptious with a larder menu to choose from before you arrive).
With eight bedrooms to choose from, the hall (correct, it is a hall as opposed to a house since smaller Brownber House lies down the lane with just four bedrooms) provides most ample space to gather larger groups of loved ones (when the world is less locked down) or for a smaller group to sprawl and scatter themselves liberally. From plumped up cotton velvet cushions and William Morris wallpapers to jute rugs and a medley of antique furniture, there is a definite sense of luxury but not one that feels at once comfortable and welcoming.
Come suppertime, a 16-seater dining table beckons, but its texture is weathered and worn and its seating is a mixture of cushion-strewn corner bench and chairs making it feel inviting rather than imposing – even with just three of us comically sat around it. Lanterns are there to be lit, wine glasses call to be clinked, and in the morning you may repeat the scene but with a pot of tea, followed by frothy coffees and the most delectable breakfast hamper left on the doorstep – warm-from-the-oven croissants with blueberry compote followed by lashings of creamy soy yoghurt and oaty granola were but two of our courses at breakfast time.
A hidden hall, a homely hall, a hall to come back to again and again be it large family Christmas a year from now or as a getaway for the here and now when all you wish is to roam the rugged landscapes that surround it, applause to you Brownber.