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18th Century Elegance - 21st Century Comfort
Hotel Whitworth Hall Country Park (County Durham)
Member Name: ks.h
Hotel Whitworth Hall Country Park (County Durham)
Date: 25/04/02, updated on 26/04/02 (2692 review reads)
Advantages: Seventy-three acres of beautiful parkland
Location and Setting
Whitworth Hall Country Park Hotel is located approximately seven miles south of Durham City and one and a half miles west of Spennymoor. It is set in seventy-three acres of beautiful parkland along the banks of the River Wear.
It is an idyllic country escape where you can enjoy long relaxing walks in the Whitworth Hall Estate; some of the attractions include a Victorian walled garden (with a secret garden within the walled garden), an ornamental lake with an abundance of swans and if you’re an angler you can spend sometime fishing here (residents of the Hotel are given a complementary permit), a deer park with a very large herd, a small spinney with a little round Victorian pergola and a pet cemetery with crosses marking the graves of all the deceased pets over the last eighty-odd years – although Jackie the Budgerigar 1946 – 1952 seemed to have two graves; the Estate even boasts its own church with weekly services.
History of Whitworth Hall
Whitworth Hall dates back to at least Norman England and the earliest records refer to the owner of the Estate as being Thomas de Arcle who changed his name to Whyte-worth (a fairly common Durham name) in the early fourteenth century and in 1420 Ralph Neville, Earl of Wesmorland was recorded as being the owner of the Estate, which he used to hunt deer and game.
The Estate passed into the hands of the
Shafto family in 1575 and it remained the property of the Shafto’s until 1981 when it was sold to Derek Parnaby who maintained the Hall, Estate and deer park. It was sold to its present owner in 1997 who turned into an independent hotel.
If you live in the North East of England you will probably be familiar with the Shafto name. Robert Shafto (1742 – 1797) was MP for County Durham and his name was immortalised in song:
“Bobby Shafto went to sea,
Silver Buckles on his knee,
He’ll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shafto.
Bobby Shafto’s bright and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair,
He’s my ain for evermair,
Bonnie Bobby Shafto.”
As a child this was one of the songs we sang when skipping or playing ball games, allegedly Bobby Shafto was a handsome, debonair politician, tall, slim and youthful, with thick golden hair; legend has it he was betrothed to Bridget Belasyse, the Heiress of Brancepeth. Bobby went to sea and on his return fell in love with and married Anne Duncombe, Bridget was heart broken and pined herself into an early grave. Of course there is no evidence to support this story but the song is still sung today.
The Hall was rebuilt in the late nineteenth century around the original library and is now classed as a sympathetically restored Grade II listed building.
The Hotel offers twenty-nine luxurious bedrooms, most rooms are strictly non-smoking and all rooms have individual character, our room overlooked a large courtyard and we had tremendous views over the unspoilt County Durham countryside. There were a couple of boudoir chairs and a coffee table beneath the window and a comfortable sofa to relax on, looking out of the window I could just imagine the horse and carriages pulling into the courtyard in the Hall’s heyday.
All rooms are en-suite with bath and shower, direct dial telephone, colour te
levision, hair dryer, trouser press, tea and coffee making facilities and twenty-four hour room service. There are a few premier rooms with four-poster bed and whirlpool bath for a little extra special luxury.
The main dining room is The Four Seasons Restaurant, which was originally an elegant Regency Library and the oldest part of Whitworth Hall, and it has maintained its charm and original fittings.
Dinner is served between 7.00pm and 9.30pm and we had a choice from the Table d’hote Menu of about seven starters, seven main courses, eight or nine deserts followed by freshly made coffee and mints.
We could have had our meal in The Silver Buckles Brasserie, which is in the Victorian conservatory and has stunning views of the deer park. The Brasserie offers French cuisine. We saved the Brasserie for breakfast, which is served between 7.30am and 9.30am and had a choice of full English or Continental.
The Hotel building offers numerous small comfortable lounges, two conservatories, two bars and a ballroom used for private functions.
Nestled within the Estate there is a family-friendly pub-restaurant, called Shafto’s Inn, offering something for everyone. Shafto’s Inn is located at the opposite side of the ornamental lake from the Hotel and is a pleasant six or seven-minute walk through part of the deer park and round the lake.
The Lakeside terrace at Shafto’s is a perfect spot to enjoy a drink or family meal during good weather and there is an outdoor adventure playground for children, the restaurant at Shafto’s is less formal and children feel more comfortable here than in the Hotel and there is a wide and varied menu offering something for everyone.
Shafto’s also has an indoor play area for children, Bobby Shafto’s Playbarn, with ball pools, slides, slopes and rope nets to climb; there is also a toddlers soft play ar
ea and craft activities for the youngsters with music in the background.
Our Weekend Break
We arrived at Whitworth at around 2.00pm on Friday afternoon and our room was ready for us. I had gone straight from work so after unpacking our small overnight bag we walked across to Shafto’s Inn and enjoyed a pleasant bar meal and a couple of drinks. We enjoy country walks and found the afternoon flew by as we wondered around the grounds, sitting for a while on one of the numerous benches and taking in the scenery.
After getting ready for our evening meal we walked back over to Shafto’s for a drink before dinner (the prices in the Hotel bar are a bit steep, Shafto’s are normal pub prices). After our evening meal, which was long and relaxing, we sat in one of the lounges and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the Hotel before bed.
We had to vacate our room by 10.00am on Saturday so after breakfast we put our overnight bag in the car and then sat in one of conservatories to enjoy the views over coffee. You are at liberty to stay in the day rooms and grounds as long as you wish so we booked a table at Shafto’s for lunch (the Inn is very popular and even guests at the Hotel are advised to book at Shafto’s for lunch), we spent the morning exploring more of the Estate and had lunch at about 2.30pm and then started our short journey home.
The staff at Whitworth Hall are very helpful and friendly, they made us feel so special and I was very impressed with the décor and pleasant surroundings of our bedroom, dining room and day rooms. We left with every intention of returning to sample more of an ambience sadly lacking in most Hotels today.
Because the Hotel has only twenty-nine bedrooms it is usually fully booked by business people Monday to Friday and the tariff is £99 for one person or £115 for two people on a bed and breakfast basis.
Weekend Break Price
Bed and Breakfast per person per night £50.00
Premier Room Supplement £20.00 per night per room
Children under four are free and four to sixteen year olds pay £10.00 per night
Telephone: 01388 811772
Fax: 01388 818669
Address: Whitworth Hall Country Park Hotel, Spennymoor, County Durham, DL16 7QX
The Hotel is also available for weddings, conferences and special occasions.
Whitworth Hall Country Park Hotel is an ideal base for touring County Durham.
From the A690 towards Crook take the first left after Brancepeth Village and the Hotel is one mile along the road on the left.
From the A1 Motorway
At junction 61 take the A688 towards Spennymoor. At the roundabout with the sign for Spennymoor town centre take the fourth exit right towards the town centre. At the next roundabout take the first exit left and after three-quarters of a mile turn right at the traffic lights. Follow the heritage signs for Whitworth Hall Hotel, the Hotel in on the right after one and a half miles.
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