Thomas Hardy is always popular, with the recent remake of Far from the Madding Crowd there is perhaps no better place to play Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak than this immaculate holiday cottage, located in the picturesque and historic small Dorset town of Shaftesbury, where the first version of the film was filmed – along with the iconic 1960s Ridley Scott Hovis advert, no less. This is England at its most bucolic, tranquil and in many ways unchanged, and this beautiful cottage, owned since 2006 by Jane and Simon Colston, is the best place to enjoy it, with spacious accommodation for six people and a beautiful garden overlooking the nearby Vale of Blackmore. The cottage has four bedrooms in all – two doubles, two singles – individually furnished with hand-crafted and antique furniture (a couple also have lovely sleigh beds), Egyptian cotton sheets and hypoallergenic pillows. The largest bedroom has an en-suite shower room, and there's also a family bathroom (with bath) and a ground floor slate-walled wet room with a shower and loo. There's a cosy sitting room with a massive inglenook fireplace with wood-burning stove, plus all the technology you may require – TV, DVD player, CD player and mp3 connection, even a video player (and a selection of videos and DVDs). For the budding musicians amongst you, the cottage also boasts a ground floor music room/quiet room with baby grand piano. There's a large and airy dining room with a lovely long school refectory table that can seat up to 12, and a kitchen that is suitably equipped to feed all those people, with an Aga Masterchef oven and hob, Nespresso machine and food processor, as well as the usual dishwasher, microwave and fridge-freezer. The nice thing is there are always lots of food basics on hand, plus they provide a welcome tray with bread, cereals, coffee and tea on arrival. Heaven, basically – in what is one of the loveliest parts of England.
Prices range from £695 a week in low season (£16.50pppn if booked by 6 guests!) to £1295 a week in peak times. Short breaks (from £495) are available year round, apart from Christmas and New Year when week long bookings are taken. They ask for £100 deposit with the balance + a refundable £100 housekeeping deposit by 4 weeks before your stay.
Available all year.
The cottage adapts perfectly from a romantic break for a couple to 6 guests + a baby. There are 2 double kingsize bedrooms and 2 single rooms with 3 bath / shower rooms and 2 sitting rooms (it's often called a tardis!).
Updown Cottage, 12 Gold Hill Shaftesbury Dorset SP7 8HB
Shaftesbury is 2 hours drive from central London via the M3 and A303. Trains run regularly from London to Gillingham (Dorset not Kent!) also taking 2 hours. Gillingham is well served by taxis and is only 4 miles from Shaftesbury. National Express coaches serve the town.
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