Set in the picturesque, rural Cotswolds, Whitminster House’s self-catering cottages have undergone a stunning revamp in preparation for the year ahead.
Discover what inspired the renovation in SoGlos’s interview, offering a special insight into the venue’s latest transformation.
About the expert – John Teesdale-Goldingham & Whitminster House
John Teesdale-Goldingham is the joint owner and manager of Whitminster House Holiday Cottages, located on the edge of the Cotswolds. The self-catering cottages provide friends and families with gorgeous accommodation, ideal for any special occasion, from anniversaries and hen parties, to reunions and birthday get-togethers.
For an escape to the country, groups from two to 49 can be accommodated, including both children and dogs – so no one has to miss out! What’s more, there is plenty to explore on the doorstep, such as scenic walks along the canals and local village pubs.
For more information, visit whitminsterhousecottages.co.uk.
Whitminster House’s Holiday Cottages have been undergoing a refurb. What has changed?
We’ve done quite a bit over the past couple of years and taken advantage of the opportunity that lockdown provided. So far, we’ve replaced six kitchens, a great deal of towels, linen, curtains and furniture, as well as redecorated a number of the cottages.
We are looking to change a lot of the carpets shortly, and bathroom refurbishments are also in my crosshairs for the next couple of years. There’s still work to be done, but our team has made great progress, whilst keeping the heritage aesthetic that our guests come back to escape to year on year.
With staycations still set to be popular in 2022, why should visitors choose Whitminster House for their holiday?
One great thing to come out of lockdown is that it has encouraged people to reconnect with the British countryside and appreciate the huge perks and value for money that staycation holidays offer. This is also great news for the planet, as it’s reducing the amount we fly.
Regarding why guests should choose us, we have found that our biggest pull factor is how different we are from the competition. Many holiday cottages have been modernised a great deal, with their prices hoisted too. Our niche is that we can accommodate a significant number of people in cottages rich in character, with spacious gardens for a fair price per person. This makes us an ideal venue to host holidays for large groups of friends, family reunions and weddings that give you the chance to celebrate properly, over a long weekend.
What can guests expect from a stay at Whitminster House? What are the benefits of self-catered holidays, like those offered at Whitminster?
Self-catered accommodation offers great value for money and huge flexibility in making your stay what you want it to be. You aren’t tied down by set mealtimes or narrow menu choices, you can have a BBQ in the sunshine – and if you don’t feel like cooking every meal, you can organise a caterer or visit the many local restaurants/takeaways. From our properties in particular, guests can expect a really charming rural escape, great for both a relaxing trip or more of a party-based stay.
Whitminster House has been a filming location for the BBC. Why was it chosen?
The estate has retained many interesting architectural, landscape and interior features that film scouts have found ideal for historical based dramas in particular. Most recently, the grounds and church within featured in the latest series of Sanditon from the BBC.
Tell us a bit about the history of Whitminster House.
The house features in the Domesday book, making it around 1,000 years old, although I suspect it looked a little different at the time! Back then, the estate belonged to one of the King’s thegns (a senior nobleman) named ‘Brictric’; it has since changed hands many times between a number of earls, dukes and other aristocrats.
Our family has been lucky enough to call it home for six generations, with each one leaving their mark. My grandfather, for instance, proudly installed electricity into the main house, whilst one of my current challenges is getting high speed Wi-Fi into every corner – something the thick internal stone walls make a little difficult!
Whitminster House is also a wedding venue – what packages do you offer couples looking to tie the knot?
We currently have two packages – Gold and Silver, which include accommodation, use of the large Victorian kitchen garden and a customisable marquee. We are also in the process of developing a third package, which would allow use of the main house’s private garden (through which a small river flows) – we think this could become a really popular option once up and running.
The weddings will still be largely organised on a ‘DIY’ basis, however, we will be offering to help out by arranging more on-site activities, suppliers and equipment set-up, such as hot tubs. I’d also like to highlight, for those looking for the option of a traditional Christian wedding, the huge convenience of having a beautiful church actually within the grounds!
Are there any exciting future plans for Whitminster House?
There’s a great many plans for the business, however I’ll just mention a few projects currently in the pipeline. In response to several groups asking for assistance with arranging activities and day trips suitable for their groups, we’ve been putting together a number of day trip bundles. We’ve contacted many local businesses to arrange discounts for a wide range of experiences, including clay pigeon shooting, cocktail making workshops and nature reserve visits.
We intend to package these together to include transport between venues, meals out and other activities, so group organisers can focus on relaxing and enjoying themselves.
We are also planning a number of restoration and energy efficiency improvement projects for Whitminster House and the cottages, to help better preserve the estate and our environment. Examples of this include the installation of one or more electric car charging points, which we hope to have within the next year, and restoring the historic bell tower in the main house.