The roe deer nibble the rhododendrons. The buzzards hang overhead. From the top of the valley here, you can catch the sea at Budleigh Salterton on the Jurassic Coast. Simcoe Lodge sits picture-perfect within 158 acres of woodland, a family home for eons, ready to make more memories for new generations of families.
The house is all rural Devon, but there’s a little piece of North America within the grounds. The first governor of Upper Canada is buried at Wolford Chapel, which flies the maple flag. Not that kids will care. They’ll be on the swings that hang from the trees, riding the fireman’s pole down to the TV room or invading the tennis court.
Inside, set up a singsong round the piano in front of the burning logs. Dine out on the terrace to the evening chirp of the woodcock. Play croquet or cricket on the lawn. Get some sounds on the Sonos system. Bring your dog and let him walk the woodlands and doze by the fire. Family life is alive and well and living in Honiton.
There are acres to spare at Simcoe Lodge. Acres to walk, acres to explore and acres for kids to be kids in. Beneath the gliding, soaring buzzards and big, wide-open skies, 158 acres have been carved from Devon’s Blackdown Hills, where the lodge faces down the valley, staring wistfully at the treetops and the distant Jurassic Coast.
The private woodland path’s opened just once a year in spring for the public to trek the hills and take in the bluebells, but you can walk it every day. Take a picnic and take the weight off your feet on the benches. Recover in the hammock as the kids expend more energy on the zip wire.
Out in the woods, there are dens to be made and adventures to be had. Kids can come home to the wendy house, play a little Swingball, or chill on the swings that hang from the trees. Dig out the croquet mallets or cricket bats, or show them who’s boss on the tennis court as the roe deer munch on the bushes. Rustic heaven.
Watch your step as you enter the grand hallway: there’s a fireman’s pole that ends at the TV room. Negotiate that and you’re into the drawing room, with the prospect of songs around the piano in front of the burning logs. From here, you can fling open the French doors to the terrace.
Also off the hall is the study. Gather round for cosy movie nights, children’s games and books. Built on the site of the residence of the first governor of Upper Canada, Simcoe Lodge marries a sense of history and tradition with mod cons like wifi and a Sonos sound system.
Everything here is stylish and spacious yet warm and welcoming. Kids have corridors to run, nooks and crannies to explore, and hide-and-seek to play. You can simply watch them make memories as you curl up with a book in quiet corners or get everyone together for games and giggles.
There’s a sociable chopping-and-chatting arrangement beneath the kitchen spotlights, with the dining table on hand, underfloor heating beneath your feet and an open fire for toasting marshmallows. The kitchen’s fully equipped for concocting a curry but, if you fancy taking it easy, we know a man who’s a dab hand with a pan.
Come together around the chunky table, with light flooding through the picture window, break your bread, pour the wine and let the happy chatter flow. Outside, the terraces sit in front of the woodland beneath big skies and the coal barbie’s waiting to be lit. What are you waiting for?
For a wholesome, hearty trip out, The Drewe Arms in Broadembury welcomes drinkers and diners with local beers, draught lagers, and steaks, shanks and sea bream. Out in the Otter Valley, The Pig at Combe offers a 25-mile menu of fine food to the backdrop of Arab horses grazing on the local slopes.
For oysters, other fresh seafood and locally foraged produce, head to Hix in Lyme Regis, or eat your own catch on a Hook-and-Cook adventure. There’s fine dining in the five-course tasting menu at The Jack in the Green in Rockbeare. Or, for the taste of two Michelin stars, tuck into the technical, carefully crafted fare at Gidleigh Park.
Simcoe Lodge sleeps 15 in six luxuriously appointed double bedrooms. Upstairs, the main bedroom is a king and the second a large double. Bedrooms three, four and five are doubles, while bedroom six comes with two bunks. A single rollout bed completes the nocturnal line-up.
Bathrooms here are a treat, complete with hand-made mosaic Moroccan tiles and Lefroy Brooks fittings with window fabrics supplied by Carolina Irving. One of the bathrooms features the kind of integral walk-in power shower with spray shower head from which you won’t want to emerge. Likewise, the 1920s rolltop bath.
You may have already realised the dream, bringing the family to Devon, with its expanse laid out before you: numerous acres to explore or just marvel at, green right up to the very door. But what you’ll find at Simcoe is still more. More for the young ones to do. Let them loose on an afternoon; they’ll play to distraction – the Wendy house has new owners and the tennis court awaits.
There’s swings, a zipwire, swingball, cricket, croquet, football, table tennis and more. And the best part? Those countless acres that provide the backdrop to this haven aren’t going anywhere. Whether the kids are happier at home or out and about in the countryside, they’ll have no cause for complaint; only the wish they had more time to fit it all in!
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