Tuesday was day 5 and the last of our long weekend break. On our way home from Berkshire we had arranged to meet my family, whose wedding we attended on Saturday. We met for morning coffee and a walk in the grounds at Tylney Hall hotel before moving on towards the Basingstoke Canal and lunch.
Tylney Hall hotel <Click> is a plush destination in Hampshire should you wish to treat yourself to a weekend break, (and in our case had been saving up all year!) Both my cousin's son and his partner work there, and we all met on Tuesday morning for a look. We walked the extensive grounds before having coffee on the terrace, and the place certainly is impressive. It is only in the last few years that the building has been "rescued" by the hotel group that now owns it, and they are, commendably, restoring it and its grounds to its former glory. Although records show that a mansion house had been built on this site in 1561, Frederick Tylney's gravestone dates the first Tylney Hall as being constructed in the year 1700. The last male Tylney died in 1725 when the property passed to his daughter who married the Viscount Castlemaine, who later became the Earl of Tylney. Subsequent owners were the Earl of Mornington, and Sir Lionel Phillips, <Click>, who almost completely rebuilt Tylney Hall in l895 and incorporated the Great Hall. Partially panelled in Italian walnut, its ceiling was brought in sections from the Grimation Palace in Florence.
The building had a varied history in the early l900's, it served as a hospital during WWI and as headquarters for the Clan Shipping Line during WWII. It was then made into a school which closed in l984 when the building was totally refurbished, redecorated and turned into the fine country-house hotel which it is today. Fortunately, the magnificent ceilings, Italian fireplaces and superb lounges have all remained and have been supplemented by indoor and outdoor swimming pools, the Oak Room restaurant and much, much more. The gardens, some sections of which were once covered in tarmac during its time as a school, are now being returned to their former glory, with much work already completed.
The 66 acre property features wonderful tennis courts, archery, horse riding, splendid gardens and wooded trails. The adjacent 18-hole golf course means that golfers do not have to travel any distance to enjoy first class facilities. Rooms are traditional and very British, with the sort of décor you find in the English edition of House and Garden.
After coffee we made our way the short distance to Odiham, where the Basingstoke canal passes through the village. Right on the side of the Canal is the Water Witch, a Chef and Brewer pub / restaurant, <Click>, where we were to have lunch. On arrival, we had a short walk up the canal bank. I immediately noticed how clear the water was in comparison to that of the Llangollen where we are. Large fish were clearly visible from the bank, and the water was a clear blue colour.
Again if we were here by boat, the journey from the Thames would be Cookham to Shepperton Lock and the Thames / River Wey junction. Then on to the junction with the Basingstoke Canal to Odiham. Total journey 58 miles, and again, presuming a cruising day of 7 hours, it would take 4 days.
And that, unfortunately, concludes our excursion to the south east. We are now back home to normality once again.