Is this a dream? It begins as you pass through the Temple House gates into a gentle, gracious world of its own. In parkland filled with fat sheep, this is a whopper of a Georgian mansion, the home of the Percevals since 1665. Much of what you see was refurbished in 1864; electricity was not put in until 1962. To be overcome by awe and wonder would be easy were it not for the charm and kindness of Roderick and Helena Perceval. The two-storey vestibule is so enormous that our host waited until we had absorbed it before she spoke: “There’s no conversation when they arrive, they are usually speechless”.
Bedrooms, with marble fireplaces and much of their original Victorian furniture, seem to be the size of football pitches – one is called the half-acre. Bathrooms have been put into what used to be dressing rooms. As shadows fall, you can take a walk to the ruins of a 13thC Knights Templar castle and a Tudor house down by the lake. The family silver comes out for dinner; delicious dishes and freshly-baked bread emerge from the all-electric kitchen, which, of course, is vast. Big breakfasts.