Trust me when I say, there aren’t many places like Carlton Towers. Situated on the border of both East and North Yorkshire, the impressive stately home is the epitome of ‘exclusive’ – opening only for a handful of private events throughout the year, including their exclusive “stately stays”, which we were lucky enough to experience this spring.
Flinging open the grand 17th-century doors for the rare occasion, we were welcomed into the private residence with open arms – and even encouraged to have a proper nosy about. An opportunity we revelled in without having to be asked twice.
Owned by the Fitzalan-Howard’s, who inherited the 250-acre estate through marriage, the stunning home not only carries bags of beauty, but also a fascinating history (think blood, battles and even suicide) – which has seen the home remain with the original bloodline for its entire story to date.
Owners Lord and Lady Howard have lovingly retained the family history that they inherited from his Grandmother, Baroness Beaumont, and ensure the tales of the Stapleton family stay alive within the country house by keeping the original features, furnishings and artwork, which you’ll still find scattered throughout the house today, centuries later.
Back to setting the scene, however, because let me tell you: the scene was pretty magical indeed. After parking up outside, we immediately gravitated to the impressive, curved staircase that leads up to the main entrance. Honestly, sashaying up and down them had me feeling like Lady of the Manor – and that was before we even stepped inside.
The mystery of what lies behind the doors was probably one of our favourite moments of arriving at Carlton Towers. After all, what’s predictable about 17th-century Gothic architecture? Absolutely nothing. Especially since that particular design era is defined by ‘dressing to impress’.
We were nervously excited, and as the doors creaked open, a church-like entrance hall was slowly revealed to us – boasting lots of stone, custom stained glass with the Stapleton’s family crest, and a hand-painted original ceiling, which centuries ago would have consisted of the most stunningly vibrant colours and taken a number of painstaking hours to produce.
And this was just to start of the pure decadence that we were about to uncover in the house. Think grand fireplaces, period furniture, original battle armour (complete with actual bullet dints), and even banners that were formerly hung in the Vatican. Not something you see every day!
Something else you don’t see every day (that is, unless you actually live at Carlton Towers)? Roll-top bathtubs, Victorian four-poster beds and original canvas paintings and portraits hung on every would-be bare wall – AKA, the main features of the bedroom that we were assigned for the night.
After visiting various stately homes around the UK, I’d forever remained curious about those towering, four-poster beds that were so desirable back int’ day – so to finally get to experience it for ourselves was pretty unique indeed, and a one-of-a-kind opportunity we’re doubtful you’ll find in many other places.
Did you know that the beds were created to be so high so that servants could never look down at their employers? No? Me neither. But I did enjoy telling my partner that he must call me ‘M’Lady’ and ensure my glass on the bedside table remained full at all times. Did it work? No. But it was worth a try while I had the chance.
After enjoying an afternoon acting out our very own episode of Bridgerton, it was time to put on our glad rags and experience the shining, spangling stateroom in all of its gold-leafed glory – the true peak of our stay at Carlton Towers.
Now this is the place where the good stuff happens, and by good stuff, I mean FOOD. Created by Carlton Tower’s very own culinary team, each dish is made using seasonal produce and flavours – with most ingredients sourced as locally as the Estate’s own land, including beef from their fields and wine from their vineyard.
The talent can be tasted in every bite – from the expertly cooked meats to the rich sauces and the incredibly indulgent desserts. My favourite dish was their Spring vegetable tian made with confit cherry tomatoes, crushed new potatoes, and a heavenly spiced butternut cream. Finished with quite possibly the best sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had (yep, even outside of Cartmel), you’re truly onto an elite meal.
But it’s not just the kitchen team who made our experience so special. Everyone at Carlton Towers ensures that guests feel truly special during their time in the house – offering white glove service, guests are literally waited on hand and foot and no glass in the house is left dry. Can you blame me when I say I didn’t want the dinner service to end?
While Carlton Towers is closed to the public on the day-to-day, the Estate does open up for exclusive events, including occasion stately stays (where you can stay the night and dine), frequent dinner events, Sunday lunches and even BBQs in the Estate’s very own vineyard.
Additionally, the house is available to hire for weddings and private events, too, making for the most stunning backdrop for a truly special day.
To find out more about how you can visit Carlton Towers, head to the website here.
[Featured image: Carlton Towers]