Queen of the Castle
Emily Davenport was to the manor born after a weekend in her very own Irish castle.
“In short, it’s everything you need to join the country set”
The Earl of Erne was taking a morning constitutional on his terrace, wrapped in a dressing gown and gazing at some of the fallow deer that roam his estate. I’d popped into his line of vision with my 14 month old daughter. Anyone else might have turned tail as quickly as the deer did, but the Earl smiled at us, bid me a cheery “Good morning” and enquired how I was settling in. You’ve got to love true aristocratic politeness.
I was staying in the West Wing of Crom Castle in Northern Ireland, the Earl’s ancestral home. A group of eight of us, plus five toddlers, had booked it for a weekend of country fun. Before we arrived, we’d been worried about the children wrecking the wallpaper and smashing priceless antiques. However, when the Earl’s son redesigned the West Wing for hire, his brief was to make it super-comfortable, without losing the stately charm. This turned out to mean a relaxed mix of seagrass carpets, comfy sofas and an enormous dining table. The West Wing is separate from the rest of the castle with its own parking area, spectacular glass conservatory used to host weddings and also for us to play hide and seek in and masses of ground. There are three double bedrooms one is a four poster and three rooms with twin beds a massive kitchen with dining area, smart drawing room and small television room with widescreen TV and DVD player.
You can even engage the services of a cook for dinner, the redoubtable Cynthia who created a four-course meal that left us groaning with pleasure- the Northern Ireland approach to food is not to stint on quality or quantity.
The proportions of the early Victorian Castle, with its turrets and lead-panned windows, are huge. There’s a tennis court, and a small rowing boat fitted with an out board engine, perfect for pottering around Lough Erne, on which the castle sits. In short all you need to join the country set. Life was as serene as you’d expect within 1,900 acres of parkland run by the National Trust.