Why you should “Book Direct”

The majority of hotel and B&B bookings are now made online, with most coming via the online travel agencies (OTA’s).  Booking this way is quick and easy and with a seemingly large number of competing OTA’s, such as Booking.com, Expedia, Trivago, Kayak, Agoda, Hotels.com etc. you’d be forgiven for thinking that all this competition ensures you have access to the best deals.

But think again.

Virtually all of the OTA’s belong to either Booking Holdings (parent company of Booking.com) or Expedia.  These two monster companies dominate the market and through pressure-selling techniques such as their “only 1 room left on this site”, “nearly sold out” and “5 people are currently looking at this room” messaging, customers are often given an inaccurate impression of a hotel or B&B’s real room availability.

And:

Whilst the OTA’s offer the convenience of price comparison, and the option to compare facilities and review guest feedback, they charge high commissions;  so the vast amount of accommodation providers, including us,  reserve their best rates for people who BOOK DIRECT

Whilst price is one advantage of booking direct, there are others too:

Why Book Direct?

  1. BEST PRICES  Hotels and B&B’s have to pay commissions to the OTA’s for any bookings made via their sites, so if you book direct, this commission can be offered as a discount directly to you.
  2. THE OTA PRICES MAY BE MISLEADING As this Moneysavingexpert article explains, the prices shown may not be total costs
  3. REQUESTS & LOCAL INFORMATION You can discuss any requirements or room preferences directly with the accommodation provider upon booking; B&B owners are a wealth of information and are only too happy to share route advice and recommendations for local activities, events or restaurants, etc.
  4. FLEXIBILITY OTA’s can charge administration or cancellation fees for any changed or cancelled bookings which the accommodation owner can’t amend. Booking direct removes any such third party involvement hampering the business owners’s ability to be flexible in such a situation.
  5. SUPPORT INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES  By booking directly you are supporting an independent business who in turn spends their money locally supporting other independent businesses.

This article by Mary Wakefield in The Spectator is worth a read

Clubhouse and course Cumberwell Park

Lorne House for Golf Getaways

Our location has made us a firm favourite with golfers visiting to play some of the stunning courses that we have close by.  As a keen golfer himself, Bob has played pretty much all of them and is happy to share his advice and insights for any guests wanting to play a round or plan a tour.

The following courses are within easy reach of Lorne House (see distances indicated) and come with Bob’s personal seal of approval:

Cumberwell Park  (7 miles)

Wiltshire’s only 45 hole golf course, Cumberwell Park provides different challenges for golfers of every ability. The course encompasses a wonderful blend of rolling countryside, lakes, streams, natural copse and woodland. A recent addition is the superb 9 hole Par 3 course.

The Manor House Golf Club, Castle Combe  (7 miles)

Situated in 365 acres of rich parkland the course was designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark. The mature oak and beech trees that line the magnificent fairways together with the immaculate greens and the River Bybrook meandering through the middle bring both drama and beauty to this Championship course.

Kingsdown Golf Club (2.5 miles)

Founded in 1880, Kingsdown is the second oldest Golf Club in the West of England and the oldest Club in Wiltshire. The downland course is renowned for its stunning scenery, beautiful fairways and superb greens. The excellent drainage makes play possible all year round. The Men’s White Tees, the course, a Par 72, measures 6,501 yards in length.  For the Ladies, the Red Tees boast 5,744 yards and a Par 73.

 

The Kendelshire (18 miles)

The Kendleshire is a beautifully conditioned golf course that has hosted three EuroPro Tour events. Designed by Adrian Stiff, the courses were set into the rolling Frome valley with plenty of water and a thrilling combination of pretty holes from the forgiving to the downright challenging. In the summer of 2002 the two courses were joined by the Badminton Course, designed by Peter McEvoy to follow the same lines but with his very own twist.

Bowood PGA Golf Course (11 miles)

Designed by the renowned Dave Thomas, the Bowood PGA Golf Course is ranked as number one in Wiltshire. Set amidst a beautifully landscaped English country estate, Bowood is the PGA Official Golf Course for the South West.

Orchardleigh Golf and Country Club (18 miles)

Located within an idyllic countryside setting and named as one of the premier layouts in the West of England, The Brian Huggett course offers many picturesque and demanding holes.The 6824 yard par 72 course for men and 73 for ladies, is set within the estate’s established parkland; routed through mature trees and with water coming into play on 7 holes.

BOOK DIRECT with us for our best prices – and if you would like further information on any of the recommendations above or regarding other activities or places to visit locally, please don’t hesitate to contact us

 

Primula Auricula Dilly Dilly

Local Recommendations for Garden Lovers

We are lucky enough to have some lovely gardens and nurseries nearby and the following are just some of our recommendations for any garden and plant loving guests:

Inspiring Gardens and Hidden Gems

Just 10 minutes from Lorne House is Great Chalfield Manor which offers an ever-evolving romantic garden with an orchard, pond, unique yew houses and a variety of flowers, plants, colours and styles. The 15th Century Manor House is a favourite location for period films.

Another personal favourite is the unbelievably fabulous Grade 1 listed garden at Iford Manor. Set in 2.5 acres, this Italianate garden designed by former owner, Harold Peto, is tucked away at the bottom of a tranquil valley and features  columns, terraces and architecture surrounded by ebullient planting schemes and beautiful views.

Reputed to be one of the best gardens in Wiltshire are The Court Gardens in nearby Holt. Created in the early 1900’s, and based on the Hidcote model, the gardens feature  seven acres of topiary, hedges, pools and plants typical of Arts and Crafts style gardens.

If it’s Capability Brown landscapes that take your fancy then do visit Bath’s Prior Park Landscape Garden  Whilst it is not known how much Capability Brown contributed to its design, the garden offers all the hallmarks of the famous landscape designer including one of only four Palladian Bridges to be found in England.  As a refuge from the city bustle, Bath also offers nine acres of Botanical Gardens in Royal Victoria Park. Dating back to 1887, the gardens offer herbaceous borders, an aerial walkway, a Roman Temple, ponds and streams.

For a Royal experience, we are a little over half an hour away from Highgrove, the Price of Wales’ wonderful Tetbury home.  The famous Highgrove Gardens are open to the public but please note that all visits must be booked in advance.   Just two and a half miles from Highgrove, the National Arboretum at Westonbirt offers fabulous walking through beautiful woodland and canopies and is especially beautiful during the Spring and Autumn.

Plant Nurseries

Box has its own little Secret Nursery, just a 10 minute walk from Lorne House. Specialising in perennials and annuals it also offers a small selection of shrubs and trees.  Serious gardeners may have come across Derry Watkins, a plant collector and author.  Her nursery Special Plants  at Cold Ashton offers a wide range of herbaceous plants including some unusual ones that she’s picked up on her travels. Derry’s own amazing garden is open to the public one day a week  (check her website for details) and she also offers gardening courses onsite, which must be prebooked.  Downside Nurseries close to Bradford on Avon is another local favourite, and definitely earns its reputation as “the gardeners’ nursery.” Finally, the excellent  Lowden Garden Centre in nearby Shaw offers a wide range of plants and gardening accessories and has a small restaurant and farm shop on site.

Lorne House Garden

Whilst we certainly can’t compete with the gardens listed above, we are keen gardeners ourselves and try to maintain an array of plants and pleasant garden views for our guests throughout the seasons.  A particular obsession is the Primula Auricula and our small Auricula Theatre on the wall by the back door will showcase some of these beautiful blooms in spring and early summer.

 

BOOK DIRECT with us for our best prices – and if you would like further information on any of the recommendations above or regarding other activities or places to visit locally, please don’t hesitate to contact us

 

View of Box Wiltshire

Hidden Box

Today Box is best-known for its Brunel-designed railway tunnel and the large quantities of fine-quality stone that were dug from its quarries, but the village dates back to Roman times and, as befits a settlement of its age and history, Box has some interesting, quirky and unusual features – if you know where to look.

The Pyramid Gravestone

In the graveyard surrounding St. Thomas á Beckett church lies an unusual gravestone, shaped like a pyramid. Local legend has it that it was built this way to prevent the occupant’s wife from carrying our her wish to dance on his grave.

The Pyramid Gravestone can be found in the immediate top left corner of the churchyard as you enter via the main gates. This is the southeast corner of the graveyard.  Many mounds can be seen on the south side of the Church. This may be because of the medieval custom of burying people on top of others and always on the south side, as no-one wanted the shadow of the Church to fall on their grave.

The Blind House

The Grade II listed Box Blind House, so called because it has no windows, is one of many local lockups found throughout Wiltshire, and was constructed in the early 1700’s.   The Blind House sat between two pubs, The Queens Head and The Bear (now The Bengal Bear Indian Restaurant) and many a drunken miscreant will have sobered up after a night in a building that offered just a bench to sleep on, a fireplace and an earth closet (toilet).

The building was constructed specifically to hold petty offenders or trouble-makers for a night or so. Its cramped quarters held minor offenders, drunks, and aliens, (strangers from other parishes who looked suspicious or who needed to be sent out of the parish). After a night inside, serious cases of misbehaviour were referred to the Justice of the Peace for a pre-trial hearing; minor offenders were dealt with locally by public denunciation in the village stocks or were escorted across the boundary into a neighbouring parish.

Other nearby villages with lockups include Lacock, Bromham and Hilperton.  Bradford on Avon has a rather spectacular lock up, originally built as a mediaeval chapel,  which is situated in the middle of the town’s main bridge, above the River Avon.

 

The Rising Sun Memorial

On Wednesday 4th December 1957, at 4.30am Box was rocked by a huge explosion.  A rupture in the gas mains pipe running down Box Hill completely destroyed the Rising Sun Pub, killing the landlord, Bill Griffin, his wife Joyce and their four year old son Andrew.  Their daughter Jane, although seriously injured, survived the blast.

The rupture was due to a sand fault in Box Hill which runs from the top of the hill right down to the Bybrook ; when cast iron gas pipes were laid in the early 1920’s, no one foresaw the problems that such rigid pipes would create some 30 plus years later.  Thankfully, the current gas mains are made of a toughened plastic material that can bend with any movement of the surrounding land.

The pub was never rebuilt and its former site became a bus stop.  In recent years, a Rising Sun Memorial Committee was  formed to successfully campaign for a permanent memorial at the site. The site is now held in community ownership and has a supporting wall for the north boundary line, a bench and a dedicated memorial display board giving details of the tragedy.
The beautiful views from the Memorial site across the Box Valley provide a moment for passers by to sit and reflect on the tragedy and pay tribute to those who lost their lives​ in the early hours of that dark and foggy morning.   The Memorial can be found halfway up Box Hill as you ascend the A4. It is on the left hand side of the road shortly after the right hand turning to Beech Road.

 

The Roman Villa at Box

Some 1700 years ago, a large complex of sophisticated Roman buildings occupied the ground adjacent to Box Parish Church.The Romano-British structures included at least 50 rooms; the largest of which was a huge reception hall. Many of the rooms had central heating, most had glass windows and the interior walls were plastered, painted and decorated mainly to represent marble. So far only one bath suite has been discovered but there must have been others. Close to the town of Aquae Sulis  (Bath) this is among the largest Romano-British complexes or villas in South-west England. In its earlier days, it certainly was a villa  but its later expansion suggests a sacred site or a healing centre or both, based on the three mineral-rich springs which still gush from the limestone hills to the South.  As houses, gardens and roads now cover the Romano-British stonework, physical excavation of the site is sadly not possible. Much of the ruins of the villa lie beneath the garden of The Wilderness, the imposing house opposite the Church.  To the undoubted horror of modern day archaeologists, an 1860 report from the then resident, H Syer Cuming included the complaint:  “My garden is full of Roman remains—tiles somewhat ornamented, but broken, bricks, tessellated pavement, fused iron, &c. I send all away to mend the roads; they are a perfect nuisance. We cannot put a spade into the ground without bringing up these impediments to vegetable growth”.   This artist’s impression of how the complex would have looked was  based on excavations and investigations of the villa site.  Further information can be found at www.boxromanvilla.org.uk

 

The UK’s only Tennis Ball Factory

In 1936, Joseph Price moved to Box and took over the running of, what was then, a small factory, developing and making rubber products, including car and lorry tyres, tennis balls and squash balls.  (The factory had previously been a candle factory, notably producing the 1 ton of candles used each week during the building of Box Tunnel). Joseph’s family firm is still in Box and today J Price (of Bath) Ltd  is the only surviving tennis ball factory in Britain and the Western World.  In the face of stiff competition from Asia, where tennis balls can be produced at a much lower cost, the company has endured by specialising in the production of promotional or personalised tennis balls, for clubs, coaches and companies, and even for dogs. Much of the work is still done by hand: once the pellets of rubber are turned in ball halves, they are glued together, and two figure-eight-shaped pieces of cloth are then attached. The balls are then placed in a heat pressing machine, which causes the white adhesive to make a seal around the two cloth coverings.  The balls can be either pressurised or left non-pressurised, and any promotional markings applied.

The old factory is largely unchanged from its early days  and can be seen a short way up Quarry Hill opposite the entrance to Bargates.  After 84 years on this site, the factory moved in early August 2020 to brand new premises in Middlehill, a small hamlet to the west of the village.

 

World War II Pillbox

Camouflaged by a copse of trees above and to the left of Box Tunnel sits a small defensive pillbox, erected ahead of the second world war.  Whilst a line of some 150 pillboxes stretch along the Kennet & Avon canal were built to deter any enemy invasion, the pillbox in Box was sited specifically to protect a secret Central Ammunition Depot.  The area had been identified for military usefulness shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933.  Concerned that the Luftwaffe would target London,  Royal Engineers surveyed sites throughout the United Kingdom including local quarry tunnels for potential use as a munitions and explosives storage facility. The Box and Corsham workings were preferred because they were dry, deep underground, and partly vacant. Plus, there were skilled underground workers available locally and the Bath and Portland Stone Firms were willing to sell redundant sites. In 1936 the War Office purchased Tunnel Quarry and Ridge Quarry for £35,000 to secure storage areas of 45 and 6 acres respectively. The aim was to create a Central Ammunition Depot, storing three month’s ammunition for the British Army Field Force. The mines were cleared of two million tons of waste rubble which was deposited on the top of the tunnels as further protection from air bombardment.   A local resident who worked for the Ministry of Defence commented that they used to joke that if by some mishap the stored ammunition exploded, it would have left “a hole the size of Wiltshire”. To see the pillbox, walk left through Lacy Wood (to the left of the Box Tunnel viewing point), cross the stile and head up the field to the copse of trees on the right.

 

Finally, look out for Celebrities

With Peter Gabriel’s RealWorld Recording Studios in the heart of the village, in a converted Mill at the bottom of Mill Lane, this unassuming village sees visits from an extraordinary number of famous singers and musicians.  Deep Purple, Beyoncé, King Crimson, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, Rag and Bone Man, The Vamps, Elbow, the Kaiser Chiefs, Kanye West, Gary Barlow and Kylie are amongst the many world class artists who have made a visit to Box to record here.  Teen idol, Harry Styles visited in August 2020 and was snapped in this photo at the Northey Arms.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK DIRECT with us for our best prices – and if you would like further information on any of the recommendations above or regarding other activities or places to visit locally, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Box Wiltshire walk

Box Walks & Local Points of Interest

For walkers, ramblers or those who simply enjoy the opportunity for a short walk and some fresh air, Box offers some wonderful walking options. We are in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the Macmillan Way and have both our own Box Heritage Trail and a wealth of public rights of way, bridle paths and footpaths to explore.

We have maps for guests covering the 5 mile Box Heritage Trail as well as guides for shorter walks which we are always pleased to pass on. Box has a wealth of interesting history and sights, including England’s only tennis ball factory, Peter Gabriel’s Real World Music Studios, the famous Box Tunnel and its slightly lesser known sibling, Middlehill Tunnel, old mills and farms recorded in the Domesday Book, quarries and woodland as well as the stunning scenery of the Bybrook valley.

Quarry Woods still bear the entrances to the quarries where the stone was mined for building Box Tunnel and for the construction industry. On hot summer days the cool air coming from the shafts below ground creates very welcome natural air conditioning.-Read More

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