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June 2015 / Travel / by Ali Howard

to the wild

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Getting away from it all is closer than you might think. A mere two hours’ drive from London, in fact. If you’ve got designs on escaping the Capital in search of a more bucolic lifestyle – even if that only extends to a long, lazy weekend of much-needed city respite – read on. The leafy loveliness of which we write comes in the shape of rural Suffolk’s Wilderness Reserve, a 4,500 acre private estate that offers all manner of luxury accommodation, from a beautifully converted barn, up to a grand, Grade II listed country house. Each property is exclusive-use, meaning you can lord it up in the countryside like you’re the Countess of Grantham herself, without the worry of other holidaymakers popping your Downton bubble. You can even have your own Mrs Patmore, as it were, cooking you up delicious foodstuffs – actually Wilderness Reserve’s own team of cooking talent headed by star chef, Adam Simmonds (that’s star as in Michelin). Indeed, you won’t need to lift a finger as you and your party are waited on hand and foot in your own country abode – what’s not to love? There’s all manner of experiences to be had, too, from clay pigeon shooting, to hot air ballooning, to a timely Wimbledon-inspired game of tennis, and perhaps our favourite – a spot of poolside indulgence in the estate’s incredibly verdant pleasure gardens, doing precisely nothing.

Sibton Park LibrarySibton Park is undoubtedly Wilderness Reserve’s pièce de résistance. The imposing manor house dates from 1827 and was designed in the classical style by renowned architect Decimus Burton. A 12-bed Georgian mansion sitting pretty within hundreds of acres of rolling countryside, it offers a quintessentially English stay – think roaring open fires, elegant interiors, a games room, and a grand dining space fit for more than a few stately banquets. But there are contemporary luxuries to be enjoyed too – just step inside the sumptuous private cinema, or get your heart rate going in the state-of-the-art gym. It’s no wonder the estate is so popular with couples planning their dream wedding – the team at Wilderness Reserve know a thing or two about throwing an extra special bash for discerning brides and grooms.

 

If you’re seeking a cosier affair, you can choose accommodation to suit your needs: The Clockhouse is Sibton Park’s former coach house, cleverly converted to mix country cottage charm with a modern aesthetic. Interconnecting is a traditional timber barn, which boasts flagstone floors and beautiful exposed beams – perfect for feeling at one with nature. The historical Grade II listed Gate Lodges offer a truly unique stay with spectacular floor-to-ceiling French windows and two private sun terraces, while Hex Cottage, a thatched former forester’s dwelling, is set within its own meadow and comes without electricity – guests can keep toasty with the Esse wood-fired range cooker that expertly heats the whole property. How’s that for a romantic rural escape?

For bookings, email book@wildernessreserve.com or call 020 7484 5700