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Abbey Ruins in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

A staycation may be the only alternative for a summer holiday this year as countries gradually emerge from lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Coastal resorts will be the main attraction but England has some other lovely places for a stylish staycation with a difference.

Sherborne in Dorset

The New Castle in Sherborne, Dorset

The New Castle in Sherborne, Dorset Credit: Valery Collins

Sherborne in Dorset is a showcase of architectural treasures due to a history embracing two castles and a magnificent abbey.  The old castle lies in romantic ruins.  But the new castle, set in gardens and parkland around a lake is still occupied.  Both the castles were once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh.  He fell in love with the town and lived here for many years.  Sherborne Abbey dominates an historic town centre that is home to many antique curiosities and cosy tea rooms.

The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, Dorset

The Eastbury Hotel in Sherborne, Dorset Credit: Valery Collins

The Eastbury Hotel offers a luxurious combination of comfort, an exclusive spa and gourmet cuisine in the Conservatory Restaurant.  It occupies an eighteenth century residence with a delightful walled garden at the back.  Guests can choose between an elegantly furnished bedroom or a secluded Victorian Potting Shed in the garden.  The hotel is close to the town centre and a very pleasant walk from the two castles.

Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds Regency Theatre Royal in Suffolk

Bury St Edmunds Regency Theatre Royal in Suffolk Credit: Valery Collins

The Suffolk town of Bury St Edmunds is famous as a cathedral city.  When it was built during the Middle Ages it had two distinct squares, God’s Square and the People’s Square.  God’s Square was the ecclesiastical area including an abbey and three churches.  At first the Abbot controlled both.  Now, although there is still a geographical separation there is a pleasing harmony between the two.

Today the old abbey, set in beautiful gardens, is in ruins.  It is overlooked by one of the churches, now the cathedral.   Both are popular attractions for residents and visitors.  This town also boasts a beautifully restored Georgian Regency Theatre Royal.  It still hosts a full programme of productions.  Take a guided tour and learn about the fascinating history of theatre over the centuries.

The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

The Northgate in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Credit: Valery Collins

The Northgate is a very special boutique hotel close to the city centre in a quiet, residential street.  It has nine rooms, all beautifully furnished and well-equipped.  A real plus is the lovely garden and terrace at the back – a delightful setting for anything from morning coffee to afternoon tea or a cocktail party.  There is also plenty of parking beyond the garden – always a plus in a city centre hotel.  This hotel, a short walk from the city centre is perfectly placed for anyone visiting the town.

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