A hotel and garden for all seasons
It would be hard to mention Woodhall Spa without including The Petwood, one of the county’s most iconic and historic hotels. Caroline Bingham spoke with managing director Emma Brealey, who has steered a turnaround in the fortunes of the family-owned business and overseen the restoration of its beautiful Grade II listed gardens.
We began by talking about the scale of the gardens and the responsibility of regenerating them as a heritage landscape.
“In all there are thirty acres of gardens and grounds,” said Emma, “which had lost many aspects of the unique scheme planned and executed according to Lady Grace Weigall’s lavish tastes by famous landscape designer Harold Peto just before the First World War.
“We have always maintained the gardens extremely well but after addressing the challenges of reinvestment and restructuring within the hotel, I wanted to focus on making the garden a prime destination alongside Lincolnshire’s other heritage landscapes. The hotel and garden complement the fortunes of each other and so we made the decision to invest.”
Took the plunge would perhaps be an apt description as addressing drainage issues swallowed the first £50,000 of the overall £.75m budget. Whiting Landscape carried out the extensive work which included restoration of the Long Walk, Terrace and formal pond.
“I wanted to reinstate the Temple of Atalanta, of which only photographs remained,” explained Emma. “The original was built on the mound of spoil created when the pond was dug out. Our first foundations on the mound sank, so piles then had to be driven to support the new structure; frustrating and costly to say the least but now so worth the effort. The Temple is in a location of peace and tranquillity – a perfect spot for a proposal in fact – and is picture perfect on a summer’s afternoon.”
The ‘Instagram appeal’ of the gardens means they are now even more popular with photographers and day visitors.
“We love that our wedding parties use the gardens for their photographs and as we only have one wedding on any one day there is no clash of images – or brides,” said Emma.
The Terrace was renovated ready for Spring 2018 and last summer was one of the most popular venues for Afternoon Tea at The Petwood. This summer there will be entertainment every Sunday afternoon on the Terrace during August. Julie Toll designed the new planting scheme for the borders and Long Walk.
Emma continued: “Late spring to early summer is perhaps my favourite time of year in the garden, when the rhododendrons are in full bloom and there is the bright ‘pop’ of colour from the salvias. There will be plenty of new varieties of rose to please the eye and scent the air in the Long Walk this summer and pink Sidalcea make a wonderful show in June.”
Julie has made sure that there will be something of interest from March through to November, making the garden virtually a year round destination alongside the appeal of events and hospitality in the hotel.
An old oak tree was felled close to the main car park and Potterhanworth-based woodcarver and sculptor Nigel Sardeson is using the trunk to create a statue of a WWII airman which will be installed and unveiled this summer.
With the hotel and garden in harmony, guests are now able to enjoy hospitality at The Petwood at its finest. The award-winning restaurant and bar offer seven days a week menus for breakfast, lunch and evening meals as well as Sunday lunches, Afternoon Teas and special occasion dining.
During 2019 The Petwood will be holding a Wedding Open Day on 28th April.
13th and 14th July will be the popular Woodhall Spa 1940s Weekend.
On 11th August The Petwood will be hosting the Concours D’Elegance Classic Car Show.
Cranford comes to The Petwood on 18th August with garden theatre from Chapterhouse.
John Challis – better known as Boycie from Only Fools and Horses – will be giving an evening talk on Sunday 1st September.
Join in the fun of Faulty Towers The Original Dining Experience, 17th–19th October.