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Charming and steeped in history

The Karma Salford Hall hotel is a perfect weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Photos by Karma Salford Hall

Salford Hall is tucked away in the Vale of Evesham and neighbours the English Cotswolds. It is one of the most enchanting rural regions in Britain. The hotel stands tall on the history it serves up in the most delightful way. While London is wonderfully exciting and offers a lot, if you really want to enjoy the quiet and charmful force of British rural life then Evesham could be just the place for you.

My partner and I set out to the hotel with no expectations barring a digital detox weekend and we came away refreshed and charmed by the hospitality of the Karma Salford Hall staff and the sights of Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Tudor charm reeks through its interiors, from the narrow steps leading up to traditional bedrooms, the restaurant, the library area and the friendly bar area. The main attraction for my stay was the locally sourced, farm to table ingredients and the hearty yet exquisite way each meal turns into a gourmet experience.

During our stay we also went on walks in the neighbouring fields and relished an afternoon tea that would easily be considered fit for the royals. The helpful reception staff also pointed us towards the nearby Stratford-upon-Avon, which is a medievall market town in England’s West Midlands, and is the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. You can take a walk through the quaint town streets, visit the Shakespeare museum and his home and truly get a sense of what life was like back then. You can also walk down to the river front and enjoy boat rides if the weather is nice and have a picnic.

A little about the history of Sir Phillip Hobbie extracted from the 30-page ‘The History of Karma Salford Hall’ researched and presented by ‘Ancestral Footsteps’.

Situated in a panelled hall featuring period paintings, chandeliers and plush carpets, the Sir Phillip Hobbie restaurant is named after Philip Hobby (spelled variously as Philip or Phillip and Hobbie or Hobby) who was an important member of Henry VIII’s court. Henry appointed him Ambassador to the Holy Roman Empire and Flanders, largely because of the support Hobby had given to his break from Rome.

Thanks to historian Sir William Dugdale, we know quite a lot about the origins of Abbots Salford and about the first noble owners of Salford Hall. One of Dugdale’s best known works, The Antiquities of Warwickshire was published in 1656 and is considered one of the finest county histories to have ever been written.

Henry VIII’s reign is well known for the break from Rome in which Henry separated the Church of England from Papal authority, appointing himself Head of the Church and dissolving all monasteries, which included Evesham Abbey.

According to William Dugdale, King Henry seized Evesham Abbey and all its lands, which encompassed the Hall at Abbots Salford, and sold it to his friend Sir Philip Hobby in 1538. For the first time Salford Hall passed from the monks into secular hands, but it would retain a strong link to the Catholic faith over the centuries to come.

Evesham Abbey was plundered by the locals and then practically demolished; Sir Philip even had to pay men to keep watch ‘against disorder’ there. Fortunately this was not the fate of Salford Hall, which remained intact.

Hobby was said to be often accompanied abroad by the illustrious painter Hans Holbein the Younger, in order for the artist to paint various princesses for King Henry to see what they looked like. Famous for his iconic portrait of Henry VIII, Holbein also sketched both Hobby and his wife.

By 1542 Hobby became a gentleman usher of the King ‘s Privy Chamber, a huge honour. This made him one of the only people who had daily contact with the king, one of the courtiers known for their loyal service but also their congenial company.

Hobby dutifully served under other Tudor monarchs. After Henry VIII’s death, he was once again sent abroad to try to negotiate a marriage between the new King, Edward VI, and the King of France ‘s daughter. Hobby briefly supported Lady Jane Grey during her 9-day reign and when Queen Mary I came to power Hobby served her on various diplomatic missions.

In 1547 Sir Philip Hobby sold Salford Hall to Anthony Littleton for the sum of 891 pounds and 10 shillings (along with its 600 acre estate).

Today it belongs to the Karma group who are restoring the property in the promise of retaining much of its historic significance while offering luxurious amenities to its guests, the founder of the Karma Group was visiting the property during my stay and I was able to have a chat with him, “This property and its historic importance is what drew me to the property, we wanted to add to it to the Karma Group portfolio and give it our stamp so it becomes a welcoming place for our guests, we have added amenities and want this hotel to be a second home for our guests to enjoy,” says John Spence, founder Karma Group.

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