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Step back in time into the lap of luxury in an enclave of unspoilt Worcestershire

As we watched lambs leaping around the grass field in front of the restaurant my girlfriend and I had the same thought - are they on the menu?

The newly refurbished Brockencote Lodge
The newly refurbished Brockencote Lodge

Brockencote Hall Hotel head chef Tim Jenkins has made the Worcestershire mansion a national foodie destination which has won a clutch of awards.

From field to fork I wanted a lamb on my plate but my girlfriend was relieved our frolicking fluffy friends were free to run around, for a week or two longer.

With holidays abroad now the preserve of the rich and the patient prepared to queue for hours to proffer a passport us Britons are discovering our islands under the guise of "staycations".

Brockencote Hall is a just a short journey from the urban West Midlands sprawl but it is a world away from omnipotent concrete and crammed dual carriageways

The hall is stroll away from Chaddesley Corbett, a picture postcard village which has the history and quaintness to get the English Tourist Board's heart racing. The village is even mentioned in the Doomsday Book, which dates a church in the village before 1063.

St Cassian's Church

St Cassian's Church would be at home in a sequel of the Da Vinci Code and is so old no-one is even sure who the church is named in honour of.

It could be St Cassian, a 5th century Romanian abbot or an Italian teacher put to death in ancient Rome by Emperor Julian. Or another St Cassian lost in the mists of the last millennia.

The church's nave is from the 12th Century, and a chapel added in the 13th Century was named after a universally famous saint, Nicholas. With the new Game of Thrones spin off House of Dragon currently underway visitors will make a beeline for the Norman stone font, made by the Herefordshire School of Sculptors between 1125 to 1150 which has interlocking dragons.

The dragons of Chaddesley Corbett

With 900 year old dragons inside the rest of the church and graveyard outside has a lot to live up to. There are monuments to various members of the Corbett family, who were the lords of the manor for centuries. The bloodshed of the 20th Century is recognised a First World War roll of honour in the tower and two windows commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Second World War.

The sheer number of names show how the global conflicts impacted a parish like Chaddesley Corbett, the graveyard has Commonwealth War Graves the stories behind the deaths of six of the men are available on the grave's commission 's website.

To add to the feeling of being in an enclave where time stood still opposite the church were ornate gypsy caravans with shire horses staring lazily into the middle distance. Perhaps their equine thoughts were about galloping along with their more athletic cousins in the Chaddesley Corbett Point to Point races which meet five times between December and May on a racecourse which dates back to 1925.

The village does not have a green but does have some perfect pubs, The Swan is a Bathams free house, where purveyors of fine Black Country brewed beverages make a beeline for. The regulars were probably unimpressed with Hagley's most famous son Adrian Chiles naming their local as his favourite drinking spot in the country. The Fox further down the hill is just as good but happily remains anonymous online.

Notable shops include meat heaven The Chaddesley Butchers, sweet smelling The Flower Room and fashion hotspot Chaddesley Boutique.

This corner of the Wyre Forest feels unexplored and an undiscovered secret which will impress even the most know-it-all of travellers.

Brockencote Hall has the feel of an all powerful Manor House, however, the whereabouts of the actual Chaddesley Manor House remains a history, but could have been on the 70 acres of Brockencote Hall. The present mansion was built in the 1880s but is surrounded by historic landmarks which date back centuries including 17th Century wine cellars which are still in use today and the Bumpy Meadow with the outlines of 12th Century fish ponds.

The Brockencote Hall Hotel

To drive up to Brockencote Hall is to miss a lingering look at the vista which surrounds the mansion, blink and you'll miss the lake to the right in a car but a gentle stroll really is the best introduction to the Eden Collection Hotel.

Guests at the new Brockencote Lodge, which is the mansion's Old Gate house, can be chauffeured to the main hotel, but to take that easy option is to forsake an arm in arm stroll with a loved one when anything can seem possible, from a proposal to throwing a coat over a puddle just to make her smile.

The four star hotel's owners have spent £350,000 renovating the historic Gate House transforming it into either a three bedroom house or separate apartments.

A new hot tub, within a private garden, is available to use 24 hours a day which gives any stay a fun option, we had a great hour in the afternoon but if I'm honest the evening dip didn't happen because I could not read the instructions.

The Brockencote Lodge hot tub

The lodge is perfect for a bride to stay away from the groom's party the night before the wedding. And also perfect for a family getaway from home.

Set in parkland the house has historic gardens with all types of flowers and vegetables which produce can be seen on the menu at The Chaddesley Restaurant.

Head chef Tim Jenkins peppers his dishes with plants and herbs from the vegetable garden, including violet. Which was easiest to spot how it went from patch to plate.

The menu is high end fine dining, various awards and certificates are framed on the wall, including Award-winning 3 AA Rosettes reinforcing the feeling you are entering Mr Jenkins world. The renowned chef obviously knows more about food than you, our dinner was an education as much as a meal.

Two courses cost £42.95. three courses £54.95. However, the tasting experience, which includes six dishes chosen by the chef is £79 per person. With my constant problem of food envy, where I choose the wrong dish and desire my partner's choice, the tasting menu would have been the best way to get the full experience.

The menu changes more often than the season taking its lead from which ingredients are ripe. Worcestershire duck, Brockencote heritage tomatoes, slow braised charred lambs neck, garden peas, beetroot and horseradish all gave the menu a local look.

I asked to keep this a copy of the menu so I could work out which flavour was which when faced with the food. My starter, Cornish white crab meat, dashi mayonnaise, crispy udon, garden radish and oyster leaf was a taste sensation and the best few mouthfuls of food I've had this year.

My crab starter

My pan roasted veal sirloin, sweetbreads, potato terrine, white asparagus with morel cream sauce was presented like a piece of art and my tastebuds were treated to brilliant combination of flavours. The lady's pan roasted pork fillet, braised cheek, mash, wild garlic and oyster mushrooms was delightful too, thankfully we happily share dishes these days, a no-no on a first date, standard procedure with a life partner.

The French styled restaurant's staff are straight out of central casting, no question too silly, no request too much. If I'm honest, the menu created more questions with me than University Challenge.

The staff felt like an extension of the head chef, their encyclopaedic knowledge of the dishes enhanced the experience, we let them choose the wine, but they would have been generous enough not to raise an eyebrow if we'd picked the wrong colour liquid to go with our meat or fish. This kind of fine dining could very easily feel too exclusive to enjoy but every member of the team have the warmth to make us feel at ease.

After dinner we wandered into the Le Colonial Bar, wood panelled and stocked with more spirits than any self respecting haunted house. The low hum of post dinner conservation was added to us discussing how relaxed we were. The only thing missing were red faced moustache wearing men in red tunics smoking cigars and discussing the siege of Mafeking. I had a port and we sat outside staring at the stars.

Thanks to the five star quality mattresses I had a fantastic sleep.

Breakfast at lodge is designed to be eaten in your dressing gown, there is no need to walk up to the hotel with a hangover and face other diners over breakfast. A staff member brings a hamper full of goodies, including fresh juices, breads, yoghurts and jams, and coffee.

Breakfast in the lodge

Considering every room had a fancy Nespresso machine, there should have been no need for more coffee but this guest had given up, only to be told I needed to empty the machine of old pods.

The hamper certainly had enough goodies and surprises to distract any pangs of want of a full English.

After breakfast we went for a walk around the grounds, giving us chance to play food detective and guess which of the stuff growing in the ground was on our plate the night before.

Pretty quickly we were surrounded by excited lambs and lumbering mutton, glad they had not been on the menu the night before.

After saying farewell to our friends, we hit the road, and were back home refreshed within half an hour, without the need for a passport or Satnav, perfect.

To book a room or a table at Brockencote Hall Hotel visit

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