By Susan Harte
By Susan Harte
On a cold autumnal Saturday, whilst exploring the Wiltshire countryside (about 1 ½ hours west from central London), we stumbled upon not only the perfect country hotel but one that also serves sensational food – we’d hit the jackpot.
The Sign of the Angel is a 15th-century coaching inn found in the picturesque National Trust village of Lacock, next door to Lacock Abbey and Corsham Court (Capability Brown designed gardens). With its distinctive Tudor frontage, inviting stone arch doorway, deep open fires and typical black beams and whitewashed walls, it looks all of its 500 years old. It may look familiar to Harry Potter fans as the Babberton Arms in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and it has also appeared in numerous other TV series and movies.
Until 2014, the inn had been in the same family hands for the last 60 years and after a brief empty spell, the Sign is under new ownership – two charming young brothers, Tom and Jack Nicholas. This injection of new blood and enthusiasm has driven a beautiful refurbishment of the inn, creating two antique-filled dining rooms with large open fires and old and rustic pared-back interiors, with low doorways and old flagstone floors – you truly feel you have walked into something very special. We were very lucky to have nabbed a table close to a fire, and even our grateful dog had a warm place by the fire and his own bowl of water.
The short and succinct menu instantly impressed, paying homage of course to local, seasonal British cooking – a pea and mint soup with fresh chives and fromage frais could not have been fresher, greener nor more alive, and with homemade herb and cheese bread rolls, this would have been sufficient for lunch. We could not, however, resist the roast leg of spring lamb with lemon and mint stuffing – perfectly cooked with just the right amount of pink, and full of flavour. Not a crinkle cut chip or heavy gravy in sight.
No room for dessert this time but the choices of warm treacle and walnut tart with clotted cream or squidgy chocolate pudding with cream will most definitely require us to come back.
There will be a next time and it shall include a stay in one of their five gorgeous rooms, along with a communal sitting room with yet more open fires and antique furniture. The country style interiors are comfortable, brimming with beautiful old antiques, and in keeping with the last 500 years, this inn has been providing comfort and hospitality to passing travellers. These two lads have brought to this establishment an excitement, enthusiasm and an easy, hands-on welcoming energy – whether they are taking your lunch order, bringing your dog a bowl of water or answering your emails for reservations. Very much looking forward to our return visit …next weekend in fact.
6 Church St, Lacock, Wiltshire SN15 2LB, United Kingdom
+44 1249 730230
Standard Rooms from 120 pounds