They shoot films here. Maybe it’s the grand Englishness of the façade and a certain Thomas Hardy-ness. Perhaps it’s the four acres of landscaped gardens. Maybe it’s the oak beams, the four-poster beds, the family portraits and the gorgeous original features. Or maybe it’s the toys and games.
Dive into the heated outdoor pool, explore the manicured gardens and grounds, play a few sets on the astroturf tennis court, ace a few hearty meals on the Aga and pot the night away on the snooker table. There are no period dramas around here, but you’ll want to get your camera out.
Yes, if you were looking for classic English charm, modern conveniences, and deep rural tranquility in a place with little more than a church and a hill, Vaughan House lacks nothing. If you’re the one charged with finding accommodation, you’re due a slap on the back and a Pimm’s or two.
Three acres of partly tame, partly wild woodland and verdure sprawl out across a vista of pure privacy. Savour the silence as you play croquet or cricket on the lawns, picnic by the large pond or kick a ball around. Chuck a stick for your dog. Yes, he’s welcome here.
Toys and games are big here at Vaughan House, and they spill out into the garden, where the summer sound of ice chinking in gin goes hand in hand with the thwock of ball hitting racket on the astroturf tennis court.
There’s a trampoline to exhaust the kids before bedtime. But that’s after they’ve had a splashtastic time in the piece de resistance: the outdoor pool heated to 24 degrees between mid-May and mid-September. Vaughan House takes outdoor fun seriously. Oh, and glamping in the garden? Just ask the scoutmaster.
It’s hard to get away from the homely feel here. Living spaces are Laura Ashley-lush, with swagged curtains, deep skirting boards and antlers on the wall. Plush sofas, writing desks and period furniture abound. There’s a dado rail here, a wood panel there. It’s all very stately.
Poshly period it might be, but that doesn’t mean that technology gets short shrift. There’s BT Infinity wifi whizzing around to connect up your three 55-inch televisions to Netflix, and Sky TV to catch the match or fire up a film or two. Speaking of fires: you can load up the logs and add a little atmosphere to your evenings.
When you live to the manor born, you choose your living spaces. So, get together or get a little peace and quiet. Each is as warm and homely as the last, with family portraits, friendly fires in gigantic hearths, and coffee tables that look lost without a board game and a bottle of red, or at least a silky hot chocolate.
Get a little competitive in the games room, on the table tennis, table football or three-quarter-size snooker table. Stick some sounds on the Sonos system, raid the library for reading material, muddle through some old melodies on the badly tuned piano. Vaughan House is all about good times shared with good people.
Kids could play hide-and-seek in the bespoke kitchen and never be found. It practically needs its own postcode. If you fancy navigating the island, the four-oven Aga, the two electric ovens, induction hob and microwave, Bonner’s Butcher in Ilminster will be only too happy to provide the fuel.
There’s a chunky dining table to bring 20 together in comfort over beer, bread and wine. If al fresco’s more your thing, there’s a terrace table and chairs out there amid the serene silence of rural Somerset. Open a bottle of red, cobble together a crisp salad and enjoy the sunshine. Finish off with a Nespresso.
If you’d like a break from the apron and wooden spoon, call up chefs Liz Beale or Mariam Archer for a one-off celebration or a fully catered break. For a meal and a stiff drink a stiff walk away, try Dinnington Docks, with its log fire and skittle alley, the multi-award-winning Lord Poulett Arms or the friendly 5 Dials.
Stock up on stuff from Bakery Royale, Silver Street Dairy or Bonner’s Butchers. Eat posh at F.EAST, serving delicious food with a relaxed, industrial style, The Railway Carriage Café (actually a railway carriage), or The Firehouse, a traditional pub turned baker of home-made award-winning pizzas.
In a world of four-posters, high skirting boards and billowing curtains, beds are soft, comfortable and laced with crisp cotton. Vaughan House sleeps 20 in ten bedrooms, with another four in the loft dormitory.
The Garden Room is a kingsize sleeping two with en-suite, walk-in shower. The Carnation Room and Monmouth Rooms are superking zip-and-links with shower en-suites; the Monmouth adds a bath. Flora’s Room is a kingsize four-poster complete with dreamy copper bath in the bedroom and en-suite walk-in shower.
Angus’ Room is a superking zip-and-link with en-suite shower room, while the Master is a superking with bath-and-shower en-suite. James’ and Ewen’s Rooms are superkings sharing a walk-in shower bathroom, and the Carnival Room comes with a superking bed, raised sunken bath by the window and walk-in shower.
The Nutcracker is a kingsize dorm room that shares a bathroom and walk-in shower with the loft dorm room, home to four kid-friendly single beds.