Very Grand Tour
It’s an absolute hamlet of a house: sprawling’s the word. Every century since the 17th, the Evelyn family enlarged and embellished Wotton House. Following a late 20th century stint as a school for firefighters, it has been a country house hotel of considerable renown and taste. John Evelyn, landscape architect and diarist, created the first Italian Renaissance garden in Britain. It still remains, along with a – what’s the collective noun? – let’s say a feast of streams and bridges and temples and grottoes and griffons. A river runs through it (the Tillingbourne). Although the Evelyns’ kangaroo paddock has gone. Incredibly this is all just an hour’s limo ride from London.
The three storey collegiate looking brick elevations around the entrance forecourt are topped by Dutch Billy gables. The garden front is lower rise in nature, punctuated by chamfered bay windows, and stretching the full length of the terrace. Overlooking the Italian Renaissance garden is The 1877 restaurant and bar. This double space combines a mirrored and frescoed reception room and an adjoining orangery. A plaque over the external door confirms: “Built about AD 1670 by George Evelyn Esquire. Enlarged and restored AD 1877 by W J Evelyn Esquire.” InterContinental Hotels Group has aptly named the bedrooms and meeting rooms after a botanical theme: Geranium; Heather; Hosta; Ivy; Japonica; Magnolia; Marigold; Poppy; Primula; Rose; Tulip; Thistle; Viola; and Wisteria.