Behind the doors of Devon's intriguing places
When I visited Escot House just outside of Ottery St Mary in October 2019, I was taken aback by the beauty of the Georgian 'sugarlump' as owner Mish Kennaway described it.
Walking across the threshold of a country estate property often feels like taking a step back in time to a period in history before the modern problems we all face today.
Capacious dining halls with flowing window drapes, decorative oaken furniture, marble stone busts of important figures of their time, and winding staircases cannot fail to conjure up visions of stately banquets and high society.
You can read my Curious Devon Escot House article on the Sidmouth Herald website at:
For anybody who has set foot in Pecorama in Beer you may be forgiven for thinking that the place features just a miniature railway, model rail museum and pleasure gardens. But did you know that Pecorama is in fact home to a fully functional model railway track factory producing around 6500 points and 12,500 yards of plastic track each week?
During a tour of the factory, I was able to meet the workers and see them operating the machinery used to create the various elements of track and other model parts.
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Nestled on top of Peak Hill in Sidmouth, Peak House has been a familiar building to those who climb the long clifftop hill, looming off the road and dominating the surrounding landscape.
The original Edwardian house was destroyed by a fire in 1903 but was rebuilt and served as a Red Cross Hospital during World War One.
in October 2019 I had the privilege of walking around the ground floor flat and enjoyed exploring some of the extensive grounds around the property.
The views are spectacular and one can only imagine the thoughts of the soldiers who convalesced there during the Great War as they peered through the windows of their sanctuary.
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With more staycationers flocking to the South West each year, it's becoming harder and harder to find quiet locations that are unique, full of character and a short drive away from the main local attractions.
Mazzard Farm holiday cottages near Ottery St Mary is an exception to this rule.
The idyllic converted country farmhouse on East Hill is a stone's throw from the nearest town and only six miles away from the stunning seaside town of Sidmouth on the Jurassic coast.
Having interviewed the owner, Ruud Jansen Venneboer, who is passionate about Ottery and the businesses there, I made my way through the orchards and wandered through the neighbouring fields which are home to small farmyard animals such as goats and chickens, which are a real hit with young families staying in the cottages. I made my way further around the estate and was greeted by some friendly horses in a paddock nearby. Exploring the farm is encouraged and indeed part of the whole experience of staying at Mazzard Farm.
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Curious Devon is a series of features by Alex Walton which looks at some of the county's 'hidden gems', exploring places that aren't always accessible to the public and unlocking the history behind them. The series was launched across the East Devon range of newspaper titles produced by Archant Publishing. These publications are the Sidmouth Herald, Midweek Herald and the Exmouth Journal.