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Discover Foodie Heaven in These 5 Charming English Villages

England has a wealth of picture-postcard villages scattered across the countryside, some of which have become sought-after dining destinations with award-winning restaurants. Ahead, we’re rounding up five of the prettiest English country villages where you can experience natural beauty and mind-blowing gastronomy in the same weekend.

Great Milton and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons; photo by Mattia Aquila Photography (left). Chef Patron Raymond Blanc, center, and staff; photo by Luke Selby (right).

This small village just a few miles outside the university city of Oxford has a big name: Great Milton. It’s over 1000 years old and was listed in the Domesday Book, a manuscript survey of England commissioned in 1086 by William the Conqueror. 

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons cuisine: Les Agrumes et Huile D’Olive (left); L’Agneau (center); Le Crabe (right).

In addition to The Bull—its community-owned public house—and an ancient church, parts of which date back to the Norman conquest of England, Great Milton is also home to several historic houses, the most famous of which is the Manor House. This beautiful property was purchased by internationally acclaimed French chef Raymond Blanc in 1983 and then converted into a restaurant and hotel called Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The restaurant was awarded two Michelin stars almost immediately after opening and has retained them every year since. A large kitchen garden ensures a supply of the freshest produce with a minimal carbon footprint. Both the restaurant and chef are considered pioneers of sustainable haute cuisine in England.

Matfen and Matfen Hall

The tiny village of Matfen lies on either side of a river in Northumberland, one of the most remote and unspoiled parts of England. A few miles away is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall, an ancient Roman fortification and one of England’s major tourist attractions.

Matfen Hall

Matfen is a charming example of a nineteenth-century “model village,” with small yellow and gray stone houses flanking a central village green. There’s a church just behind the main village, but the real draw here is Matfen Hall: a grand nineteenth-century mansion, once the family home of the Blackett baronets. It has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation to become a superb five-star hotel, spa, and golf estate.

1832 Bar (left). The Grand Hall (right).

Golfers are spoiled for choice with 27 holes of championship golf, a driving range, and an academy. A well-appointed spa with a heated indoor swimming pool is a wonderful haven from unpredictable weather; a bright airy orangerie on the side of the building serves wonderful afternoon tea. But it’s the fine dining restaurant Emerald, in the Hall’s stunningly decorated former library, that is the gastronomic destination. Alongside striking views over the vast parkland of the estate, Emerald offers exquisite tasting menus that highlight luxurious ingredients and stellar cooking. 

Bruton and Osip

Bruton Almshouses. Photo by Lucy Morgan. 

Located on the edge of scenic Somerset in the southwest of England, the drive to the artistic village of Bruton will take you past Stonehenge, one of the country’s oldest monuments. Bruton is a real hidden gem, with a Hogwarts-esque boarding school, a limestone dovecote on a grassy hill, a museum, and an impressive modern art gallery. The high street has numerous smaller galleries and independently owned stores, as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Osip restaurant

Osip, housed in a former ironmonger’s store on the village’s high street, opened in 2019 and was awarded a Michelin star just over a year later. It serves a tasting menu based on produce from the chef’s nearby vegetable garden, in a small and elegantly furnished dining room. Guests are not given a menu to look at; instead, each course appears and is introduced by the excellent front-of-house staff, offering a fun element of surprise. There is a list of natural, biodynamic, and low-intervention wines and a carefully chosen wine flight that pairs with the tasting menu. 

Osip cuisine. Photo by Rebecca Dickson (left). Osip dining room (right).

Broadway and The Lygon Arms Hotel

Known as the “Jewel of the Cotswolds,” the delightful village of Broadway should be on every tourist itinerary. With gorgeous golden-stone cottages that glow in the sunlight, Broadway was once an important staging post for coaches traveling between Wales and London. Today, the village has delightful gift shops, a museum and art gallery, a historic hillside tower, and its own steam and diesel heritage railway.

Lygon exterior

Broadway’s location required the building of a coaching inn, and The Lygon Arms Hotel has a fascinating backstory that spans more than 600 years. Oliver Cromwell, King Charles I, Prince Philip, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor all spent time within its walls. 

Lygon Lounge

The Lygon Arms has a selection of excellent dining options. The quintessentially English—and aptly named—Grill features dramatically vaulted ceilings and warming log fires. Helmed by English celebrity Chef James Martin, it offers top-quality meats, fish, and seafood on the grill, alongside English culinary classics like ox cheek suet pudding, smoked salmon, and knickerbocker glory. 

Dogs at Lygon

As well as serving wonderful food, this restaurant is the scene of an important historical moment: In 1651, from one of the dining room’s windows, Oliver Cromwell addressed his men before going into battle. 

Cartmel and L’Enclume | Rogan & Co. | Aulis

The stunning Lake District in the northwest of England is home to Cartmel, a very special medieval village. The countryside and scenery surrounding this charming place are outstanding. Cartmel makes a great base from which to explore the mountains and lakes in this lovely corner of England. And there’s plenty to do in the village itself, which offers a historic parish church, a racecourse for horse fans, and an excellent craft brewery.

In recent years, Cartmel has become a destination for gastronomic pilgrims, too, spoiled for choice with a selection of top tables. The three-Michelin-starred L’Enclume attracts diners from around the world, keen to try talented English Chef Simon Rogan’s innovative cuisine. Next to the restaurant is the intimate six-seater Aulis. In the center of the village you’ll find one more award-winning restaurant: the one-Michelin-starred Rogan & Co. Most of the produce for these restaurants comes from “Our Farm,” just one mile outside Cartmel, and the chef is famous for his commitment to sustainability. In short? Visitors can feast here with a clear conscience.S

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