There’s something to be said about being surrounded by history –it’s submersive. Growing up, I always had this burning desire to be somebody else. Which was why books the likes of ‘Narnia’ and ‘His Dark Materials’ appealed to me so much –they allowed me to open portals to different worlds, to be a different version of myself.
Now that I am older and (debatably) wiser, I don’t get to travel to different worlds very often. But for two nights in October, I was able to do just that.
Rooted in the heart of the Forest of Dean, Speech House Hotel is a magical place imbued with history. It was originally built as King Charles II’s hunting lodge in the late 1600’s but then later became a Verderers’ court –a court for the protection of vert and venison. I don’t really know why, but being surrounded by so much history awakens my imagination. And I don’t think I’m the only one. Take fantasy novels, for example –they’re mostly set in ancient lands where technology and stainless steel have not yet had a chance to strip the world bare. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. But you have to admit, it is the antithesis to magic.
On our first morning at Speech House, sat in the Verderers’ court having breakfast by the snap and pop of the open fire, I realised I had done it: I had opened a portal. Suddenly, I found myself hoping that Dumbledore would make an appearance at breakfast and steal my toast, or that the naked lady in the oil painting above our heads would start sneezing into her bedsheets (or onto the boys’ black puddings!). The opportunities were endless. I carried on nibbling at the corner of my hash brown, taking in the warmth from the fire -London, a faraway universe.
My room at Speech House –which, in my head, I secretly referred to as “my chambers”-, was warm and cosy. It is not every day that one needs a stool to clamber onto their four-poster bed –yet, somehow, I felt instantly at home in this grandiose environment. Walking round in my dressing gown, I felt a true sense of belonging: had I finally made it into Slytherin?
The tall windows in my bedroom looked onto thick, ancient woodland. Some say it was the Forest of Dean that inspired JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ –I can see why. There is something very wild about the Forest of Dean –an almost eerie atmosphere. The vegetation is so old and luscious that one can imagine a very great deal happened in that forest. Maybe just a few hunting episodes, or who knows? Maybe something else -if only trees could talk!
On the first day, being the cute blogger family that we are, the boys and I coordinated outfits. After walking for a while in the Forest, we found a cool spot to take some group pictures. Tripod at the ready -and snap! The result? Well, I was hoping for Tatler meets ‘The Hobbit’, but someone recently commented saying that we look like the cast of Riverdale. I’ll take that.
Our evenings at the Hotel were spent mostly in Skirmy’s living room (or, as I liked to refer to it, the common room) playing wizard’s chess -just kidding! I apologise for all the Harry Potter references. This is what historic homes do to me! Or was I being influenced by Ollie’s hair colour? Maybe a combination of the two.
Leaving this enchanted place behind on the last day was difficult, but at least now I know that it is still possible to relive a little magic, even in your mid-twenties –all you need is a beautiful historic hotel and an ancient forest.
Book your stay at Speech House Hotel here.
Outfit number one:
Jacket: Jack Wills
Outfit number two:
Jacket: Next (shop here)
Trousers: Next (shop here)
Boots: Next (shop here)
Hat: Newlook (shop here)
Scarf: Enrico Coveri