Last Friday I was invited to the launch of the new Garden Kitchen cafe and visitor centre at Packwood House. Dame Helen Ghosh, the National Trusts Chief Executive was undertaking the official launch. As Packwood is one of my local National Trust properties I was more than happy to be one of the first to see what these new additions now add to the Packwood House experience.

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On arrival you are greeted by a wonderful wooden building which sits effortlessly within its surroundings. The design has been inspired by Packwood’s historic house.  You enter into a wonderfully light visitor centre and it is here that you start to see the interior design elements that carry on through to the Garden Kitchen cafe, as well as the external signage.
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I instantly loved the interiors.  I’d describe it as country kitchen with a kitsch twist.  It’s definitely a place that I would happily spend an hour or two.  There were so many little details that kept catching my eye.  It is this attention to detail that sets this cafe apart from any other National Trust cafes I have visited.
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Something that you can’t help but notice are the wonderful delft tiles which have been created in partnership with Fired Earth. The 18th century delft tiles in Packwood’s Ireton bathroom were the inspiration. This new contemporary range includes scenes from Packwood’s past and present from gardeners cutting the famous yews, visitors playing hide & seek, Freddie the cat, as well as Graham Baron Ash, the former owner of Packwood House.
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The cafe was deliberately built so that it looked out onto the grounds of the property and there is a terrace which can be enjoyed in finer weather.

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From the terrace you can make your way round the back of the kitchen garden which leads you in a number of directions. You can either take a walk to Baddesley Clinton, explore Gorse Wood, or take the wellie walk.  I took this short stroll with Lucy Reid, the General Manager at Packwood House, who told me that the new cafe and visitor centre has taken four years to come to fruition.  Alongside the new build there have also been renovations within the House as well as other exterior improvements.  Over the next year Lucy, and her team, will be making sure the new addition meets customers expectations. They will, of course, be enjoying the cafe themselves.

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As you can see it was a rather cloudy, and blustery, day, so I headed back to the cafe as I couldn’t leave without sampling one of the meals.  I chose a hearty beef stew which was warm and comforting, just perfect for a winters day.

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The Garden Kitchen cafe will be open all year round, serving fresh seasonal food, which will include produce from Packwood’s own kitchen garden as well as local producers.  I can’t think of anything better over the coming winter months than to take a stroll through Gorse Wood or on the wellie walk and then to have a warm hearty meal in the cafe.

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Discovering the delights of the ……..Warwickshire countryside!

 


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