Blackmore Farm's host serves piping hot pies with lashings of history, writes Anna Leask.

What do Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral and a farmhouse in Somerset have in common?

All are impressive relics of British history - and all are among the 9000-odd Grade I listed heritage buildings across the United Kingdom.

Blackmore Farm's manor house in the heart of the countryside is much less ornate and well known than the other landmarks and royal residences - but it's well worth a visit if you love sights steeped in fascinating history.


I found myself at Blackmore Farm in Cannington, just under three hours from London, earlier this year in the middle of the British summer.

I can hear you saying "pfft, British summer", but the sun made a spectacular appearance, lighting up the countryside gloriously.

I was on a Trafalgar tour bus when I visited Somerset, as part of a 14-day jaunt around England, Wales and Scotland.

The beauty of a tour is that you can sit back, relax and take in the scenery as you're whisked around the country.

Sure, you're with about 30 strangers, but the local experiences you get to indulge in as part of the group are second to none.

The visit to Blackmore Farm is one of those.

We're visiting the farm as part of a Trafalgar "Be My Guest" experience where travellers journey into the home of a local, eat their home-cooked food and get a deeper, authentic understanding of their lives and history.

Blackmore Farm's majestic stone manor house was built in the 15th century and sits smack bang in the middle of the Somerset countryside overlooking the Quantock Hills.

It's been run by the Dyer family since 1952 and is currently managed by brothers Alan and Ian.

Alan and his wife, Sheila, and their kids run the dairy farming side of things while Ian and his wife, Ann, take care of the hospitality - weddings, the bed and breakfast, farm shop and other ventures.

When the family took over the farm 65 years ago, it was in terrible condition.

But after decades of hard work and tender loving care, the manor house has been restored. Its stone-walled exterior screams old England, as do the period features inside - oak beams, stone archways, cob and lime plaster walls, and medieval garderobes.

We stepped through the front door, were greeted warmly by Ian (whose Somerset accent is a delight) and Ann and were led into the great hall.

The 6m oak table is a grand centrepiece and where the couple serves lunch to Trafalgar groups.

Sitting at the table, tucking into cold ciders and piping hot pies made from scratch by Ann in the farmhouse kitchen - shepherds and chicken and leek the day I visited - and mouthwatering roasted veges, you feel like you have stepped back in time.

Dessert consisted of ginormous home-grown strawberries and lashings of whipped cream. A couple of crisp apple ciders down the hatch completed the old-England dining feeling.

As Ann did the hard yards in the kitchen, Ian gave us a tour of the house.

Built in 1480, it has an integrated chapel - a cool and quiet room at the front of the red sandstone manor.

While the farm operates as a wedding venue, the chapel is off limits for now. It's being saved for Ian's daughters before they open it up to the paying masses. Imagine how special that will be for them, to marry in a room so rich in history and so important to their family?

The original kitchen lies just beyond the chapel and is kitted out as it would have been in the old days.

There are a handful of bedrooms in the manor house for guests - all decked out with sumptuous linens and some of the most beautiful furnishings I've seen.

The Dyers have put a lot of time and effort into making sure every piece fits their theme and is authentic, and they have left the rooms as original as possible - one even has the old long drop room as well as a modern en suite, so that guests can see exactly how the manor house operated in past centuries.

As an aside, that long drop was on the second floor and our guide took great pleasure telling us how it was cleaned.

Regularly, the smallest member of staff would be lowered up and down the long drop with a bucket of water to clean it by hand. Unpleasant, but necessary for such a home in the day.

From the rustic, heavy, wooden doors to the carved wardrobes, sturdy, oak four-poster beds and stone fireplaces, the rooms offer comfort with a good serving of history - and each one has a different view of the lush, green countryside beyond.

And, it's affordable - £70 for one or £120 for two per night, including breakfast.

The Dyer family lives in the manor, but their quarters aren't part of the tour.

We headed outside to look at the stunning gardens, vibrant green grass, fragrant flowerbeds and views of rolling hills and farmland stretching for miles.

It's certainly a place I'd love to return to and explore properly.

One thing you must - must - do before leaving Blackmore is check out its farm shop. There wasn't much room in our wee tums after the hearty, home-made lunch, but a few purchases were made for later.

There's a cafe and market in the shop with a fabulous range of sweet treats (yes, including scones with cream and jam) and award-winning icecream.

And the shelves are lined with locally-made and sourced cheese, fish, pies, eggs, jams, chutneys and relishes and more of those phenomenal strawberries.

If you want a taste (literally) of real England, old England or just something with some good old-fashioned hospitality, get yourself to Somerset and check into Blackmore Farm.




's 11-day Best of Britain guided holiday, is priced from $3275pp twin share with savings of up to 10 per cent for bookings and payments before December 14.

Includes sightseeing, guides, accommodation, many meals, transport, transfers and a travel director.

See your travel agent or call Trafalgar, 0800 484 333.