Horwood House has been many things over the years: a family home, a prep-school, offices, and now finally, a beautiful countryside hotel. As the building has such an incredible history, we thought we’d share some of it with you…
The story began in 1911, when Horwood House was built on land which housed the former Old Horwood, a 300-year-old farmhouse previously known as Rectory House, which was said to be haunted by a Colonel Daucy that used to reside there. Spooky!
Frederick Denny, a local businessman who made his fortune in the bacon trade – whose family name is still known today – commissioned the building of the new property to well-known architect, Detmar Blow, giving him a large budget and a specific brief; he wanted an impressive looking house which would also serve as a comfortable family home. Blow created a Jacobethan-inspired manor house incorporating tall brick chimneys, bay windows and Bath stone surfaces. He also used old tiles to create a gable roof and imported light red handmade bricks from Holland – the same red bricks you’ll see in the Manor House today!
The renovation also saw the 14 acres of bare fields and woodland converted into a working garden. The grounds of Horwood House were very important to the Dennys, and the family employed sixteen gardeners who, under Frederick’s instruction, ensured that the gardens and greenhouses yielded produce all year round for the kitchens, whatever the season, and there were always freshly cut flowers for the house.
The Head Gardener’s son, who was the first child to be born at Horwood House after its completion, was the famous Percy Thrower, the world’s first TV gardener who inspired a national interest in plants and growing. Best known for presenting Gardener’s World, he wrote numerous books and columns for newspapers and magazines.
Unfortunately, Horwood House’s days as a family residence were to end as the economic depression of the 1930s took hold, which led to many English country estates having to be sold to make ends meet. From there, the building existed under various guises, until it was acquired by current owners, Ziz Properties in 2019, and restored to the gorgeous space that it is today.
At Horwood, we look back to the early custodians, the Dennys, for much of our inspiration, so the gardens now contain gorgeous seasonal ingredients for our talented chefs to use in the meals we serve in Harry’s Bar & Kitchen. Our spring menu, curated by our Executive Chef Will Dimartino, features delicious home-grown purple sprouting broccoli, currently being served alongside pan-fried salmon.