For sheer scale, Dorset’s The Grand Rectory wins by a cliff face. Round up your nearest and dearest, your chums, your hens and your dogs and wend your way down to Symondsbury to celebrate. Invite your enemies if you like. Sleeping 22 adults and 9 children, this place is so big, you’ll never see them.
Solid and palatial with leather sofas and air-purifying houseplants, The Grand Rectory just needs a few ceiling fans to complete the colonial feel. Take your coffee and croissants on the veranda with views over the fields towards the sea.
Cook on the electric ovens and grab a four-poster for bedtime, but not before you’ve found the pool table. Enjoy quiet evenings in the card room or get together in the drawing room for Netflix and Freeview on the telly. More tea, vicar?
You’ve plentiful garden space to explore and all the time in the world to do so. Play croquet on one of two lawns and take your tea on the overlooking veranda with views out over lush fields down to the sea.
Light the barbecue and sear your sausages in the sunshine or watch the sunset on the veranda with views over the fields towards the sea.
Once thought to be the country’s largest rectory, The Grand Rectory has space in spades and comforts aplenty. There’s a colonial feel here among the houseplants and the chunky leather sofas in a house decorated in keeping with its past, yet modern conveniences abound.
You don’t get much more modern than the BT FTTP Wi-Fi that whizzes around the place at 90mbps. Bring your passwords and use it to check in to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Or get around the 46” drawing-room TV to catch up on box-sets and blockbusters on Netflix or Freeview
Among the flagstone floors, open fireplaces, oak and pine floorboards, baize door coverings and spectacular central staircase, your stage is set. And don’t forget the games room, Thrash out family rivalries on the pool table.
Stay here because you have a family reunion, because you’re celebrating, because you love the Dorset coast, because your hens want to feel special, or just because you can.
Everything here is built around comfort at scale and the dining room’s no exception. With room for 32 around the tables, there’s plenty space to pass the butter and pour the wine without bumping elbows. If you prefer things al-fresco, head out to the courtyard garden for bangers and burgers from the barbecue.
Two electric ovens, five electric hob tops, plenty of fridge and freezer space, and two dishwashers say you’ll ace the kitchen thing. If not, call up our pro chefs from Dorset Fine Dining, Hungry Mule or Authentic Indian Catering for a one-off celebration or fully catered break.
Order tasty takeaways from Somtum (for Thai), Domino’s or Sundorbon for Indian. Eat out in the village at The Ilchester Arms on traditional pub grub including Whitby scampi and local meat Sunday roasts. Book an al-fresco table overlooking the beach at The Anchor Inn or pop in for a full English breakfast at Symondsbury Kitchen.
Enjoy fish dishes, always the heroes of the place at The Club House in West Bexington, with its art-deco nautical feel. Put some pizza on your plate at The Bull Hotel in Bridport. Or sample Japanese and Asian fare such as torched scallops or chicken tenders at Dorshi in Bridport, washed down with Jasmine Sour cocktails.
Inch open your windows because The Grand Rectory is where sea breezes meet country air and you’ll wake recharged, refreshed and regenerated. Plenty of bedrooms here, so it’s deep-breath time…
Bedroom one comes with an en-suite shower room and sleeps four in a superking four poster with day bed and trundle, while bedroom two is a superking. Bedroom three offers a superking four-poster with en-suite shower room and bedroom four sleeps four in two singles, a day bed and trundle.
Bedroom five provides a superking four-poster and bedroom six comes with a kingsize. Both bedrooms seven and eight offer a superking bed with day bed and trundle, and bedroom eight comes with en-suite shower. Bedroom nine gives you another kingsize bed.
En-suite bedroom 10 sleeps three with a superking and day bed, while bedroom 11 offers another wonderful kingsize four-poster.
The winding Dorset country lanes, described by Wessex novelist Thomas Hardy as ‘narrow tortuous and miry’, lead you to The Grand Rectory’s imposing frontage. For imposing, read ‘big’. Big means you can bring the whole family up to a generous limit of 31. So the kids won’t be pining for the folks back home.
Outside, there is plenty of grass and garden space in which to hide, seek, roll, cartwheel and otherwise detox from devices. Have a go at croquet on the two immaculate English lawns, followed by tea on the veranda that stares wistfully across the fields to the sea.
Stay out there for supper, with burgers and bangers from the barbecue. Head indoors to the games room to beat the grown-ups at pool, and round out the evening with movies on the 46″ TV.