Pelham breaks his journey north at
Tillmouth Park Hotel, Northumberland
All prices are shown in pounds
NB this is a rather old review, but we have had very positive emails from readers
- August 1999
Only a dyed in the wool Highlander
would deny that the Scottish border
country is some of the most attractive
in the United Kingdom - and even
he would probably not object to passing
through it on his way further north.
If you have been driving up the A1
from London, having passed Newcastle
upon Tyne and Morpeth, it makes a
pleasant change to switch to the
A697 and, skirting the Cheviot Hills
and the Northumberland National Park,
make your way towards Cornhill-on-Tweed.
Just before Cornhill lies Flodden
Field, where King James IV of Scotland,
aged 40, died in a battle against
the English in 1513. There are touching
reminders of that sad day in the
little church nearby, where they
buried the slain of both sides.
There are some good
hotels in the Borders and one of
them is Tillmouth
Park, near Cornhill, a splendid
mansion built in the Scottish Baronial
style in 1862 by Charles Barry,
who was also the architect of the
new Palace of Westminster after
the old one was destroyed by fire
in in 1840. For material, he used
the stones from Twizel Castle nearby.
The hotel has 15 acres of grounds
which run down to the river Till.
There is a real feeling of comfortable
Edwardian prosperity about Tillmouth
Park. The 14 bedrooms have been
individually designed with period
furniture and some have marvellous
views. Most are large, some enormous,
and some have splendid views over
the policies and the river.
I felt that I should have entered
the dining room dressed for dinner
in a white tie and a tail coat
to find my wife having had her
hair endlessly brushed at the dressing
table by her faihful lady's maid.
The reality, it has to be said,
was marginally different!
Like many grand houses, the principal
rooms are on the piano nobile,
i.e. the first floor, rather than
at ground level. And very comfortable
they are. There is a large hall
on the first floor with a gallery
and landing above, and a great
fire with a club fender and comfortable
chairs around it. From this hall,
one goes to a large drawing room,
or to the main dining room, or
to a smaller dining room, which
is good for private parties.
The food is based on good home
cooking, using plenty of local
produce. It is also reasonably
priced. Dinner might start with
green pea and ham soup (particularly
comforting and full of the taste
of new peas); a fish Hors D'Oeuvres;
a salad of bacon, avocado and croutons
with a lemon dressing. For a main
course one might have poached lemon
sole; lamb cutlets; pan fried medallions
of pork; char grilled entrecote
steak or spatchcocked partridge
with mustard sauce, if the season
is right. The bread is excellent,
made in the house and a small selection
of cheese wass in fine condition.
Desserts might include apple crumble
with ice cream; baked chocolate
cheesecake; chocolate roulade;
Banoffie pie. A two course lunch
is 11.50, or 14.50 for three courses.
Dinner, including coffee and petits
fours, is a very reasonable 23.50.
Downstairs there is a cosy bar,
again with a log fire, and unusually,
a cheerful bistro with red check
table cloths, where you can eat
informally: lighter dishes, snacks
and salads, or more substantial
dishes, are priced lower than in
the dining room.
There is plenty to explore in
the area. Alnick Castle is the
home of the Dukes of Northumberland
and was known by the Victorians
as "The Windsor of the North".
Bamborough Castle, Chillingham
Castle and ruined Norham castle,
the setting for Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion",
are within easy reach. Particularly
interesting is Lindisfarne Castle
and Priory, founded by St Aidan
in the 7th century to convert pagan
Northumbria. The ruins of the 11h
century Benedictine monastery remain
on Holy Island and are an evocative
reminder of St Cuthbert and the
beautifully illuminated "Lindisfarne
Gospels" which can now be seen
in the British Museum in London.
Other interesting places to visit
are Floors castle, home of the
Duke of Roxburgh; Paxton, a splendid
Palladian mansion designed by Adam
and furnished by Chippendale; Abbotsford,
built for Sir Walter Scott, with
his library and many memorabilia
still in place.
There are many sporting opportunities.
The fishing season for salmon and
sea trout runs from 1 February
to 30 November. The hotel has seven
beats from the English side of
the river Tweed. Good pheasant
and partridge shooting can be arranged
on Lord Joycey's estate, at the
Hirsel, Minto, Mackertoun, Whitchester
and elsewhere. The hotel is a Corporate
member of the Goswick Golf Club
- perhaps the finest links course
in the North East of England. The
Scottish Tourist Board also run
an excellent "Passport Scheme" for
a number of golf courses. You could
play a different course every day
for a fortnight. Riding, hill walking
and bird watching are easily achieved
and for antique hunters there are
fine antique shops at Melrose,
Hawick, Duns, Peebles, Coldstream,
Jedburgh, Berwick and elsewhere.
And Edinburgh is only an hour away.
Tillmouth Park makes a most comfortable
base from which to explore the
beautiful Border Country. Fishermen
and women should remember, however,
the warning given by an anonymous
17th century writer:
Says Tweed to Till "What
cars ye rin so still?'
Says Till to Tweed "Though ye
rin with speed And I rin slow,
For ae man that ye droon I droon
Don't tell me you need a translation!!
Tillmouth Park, Cornhill-on-Tweed,
Nothumberland TD12 4UU. Tel 01890
882255. Fax 01890 882540.
Double rooms start at 105 per room per night, including full breakfast. Dogs
Tilmouth Park is a member of
Grand Heritage Hotels
International reservations: +44(0) 171 244 6699 Fax 244 7799
Dine Online has reviewed
some other Grand Heritage Hotels: