Our country houses - Holnicote House

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Located near Somerset’s picture-postcard village of Selworthy, Holnicote House has always been a persuasive draw for those wanting easy access to the glorious Exmoor National Park. Here’s what makes staying at this characterful country hideaway so special.

Interesting history

Mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, there have been at least four successive houses of varying sizes built at the manor of Holnicote over a 500-year period. Until the 20th century, it was owned by the wealthy and politically active Acland family who saw it though a few fires, rebuilds, and restorations during their almost 200-year occupancy. They built the present Holnicote House in 1861 and it remained in the family thereafter, minus its thatched roof that was destroyed by yet another fire in 1941 and replaced with tiles from another estate building.  

In 1944, Sir Richard Acland, 15th Baronet, and his wife, Lady Ann, donated the entire Holnicote Estate (along with Killerton, their Devon ancestral home) to the National Trust in a bid to keep them ‘safe and unspoiled for all time’. The combined value of both estates was estimated at £250,000, making it the largest single acquisition in the organisation’s history. Used as a nursery and nursery nurse training school during the 1940s, Holnicote House has been part of our HF Holidays line-up since 1952.  

Excellent facilities

Open from March to November and during the festive season, you’ll find 32 well-appointed guest rooms in three categories: Classic, Premium, and Superior. There’s also two comfortable lounges, peaceful gardens, a croquet lawn, books and games to borrow during your stay, a handy boot and drying room, and a Discovery Point offering a wide range of easy-to-follow routes, maps, and local information for self-guided walks.  

Equally worthy of your attention is the licenced bar for post-walk drinks and the dining room for a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Full-board comes as standard and includes a cream tea on arrival, three nutritious daily meals for the duration of your stay (including packed lunches), and a hearty cooked or continental breakfast on departure day. 

Superb location

Holnicote Estate makes up 12,000 acres of Exmoor National Park, a stunning landscape of moorland, ancient woodland, shingle beaches, and miles of footpaths and bridleways to explore. You’ll be an easy drive from Dunster Castle, Coleridge Cottage, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth, and the sandy delights at Porlock and Minehead. Walking highlights include the trails around the Quantock Hills, Dunkery Beacon, Bossington, and sections of the England Coast Path that takes you along the county’s coastline.

Linger for longer

Whether you’re enjoying one of our guided or self-guided walking holidays, there’s plenty to see and do within easy travelling distance of Holnicote House. Here’s some of our favourites:

Selworthy: less than a mile away, this impossibly pretty village delights with well-preserved thatched cottages as well as the All Saints church with its painted nave ceiling and 18th century gallery. There are several footpaths leading from the village up to Selworthy Beacon.  

Minehead Beach: also known as The Strand, this mile-long expanse of sand is perfect for sandcastle-building, beach games, and organised activities such as canoeing and paddleboarding. Please note there is a dog ban in force on the entire beach from 1 May to 30 September. 

Dunster Castle: a medieval castle transformed into a stately home for the Luttrell family, this characterful dwelling assures fabulous views over Exmoor, Somerset, and the Bristol Channel. Not-to-be-missed interiors include a 17th century carved staircase and rare leather wall hangings. 

Hestercombe Gardens: an hour’s drive away, this 50-acre landscape is home to three historic gardens spanning three centuries of design. Coplestone Warre Bampfylde laid out the Landscape Garden while Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll collaborated on the Formal Garden.  

Arlington Court: belonging to the Chichester family for 11 generations until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1949, this Regency house is an hour’s drive away. In addition to the gardens and grounds, there’s a museum in the stables with an interesting collection of over 40 carriages.  

Lynton & Lynmouth: located on the spectacular North Devon coast, the small rural town of Lynton and coastal village of Lynmouth are the twin resorts connected by a historic cliff railway. The short walk from Lynton to the Valley of Rocks is a definite highlight.  

West Somerset Railway: as the longest heritage line in England, this branch of the old Great Western Railway has 10 stations on its 20-mile scenic journey from Minehead to Bishops Lydyard. Minehead station is just a 10-minute drive away.   

Coleridge Cottage: a 45-minute drive away, this was the humble home of poet Samuel Coleridge and his wife Sara for three years from 1797. Acquired by the National Trust in 1909, it was here that he wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, and Frost at Midnight.  

4-night Exmoor Guided Walking

Accommodation: Holnicote House, Selworthy

Departures: Aug 2023 - Mar 2024, 4 nights

Price from: £625pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

4-night Exmoor Christmas & New Year Guided Walking

Accommodation: Holnicote House, Selworthy

Departures: 23 & 30 Dec 2023, 4 nights

Price from: £895pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

7-night Exmoor Self-Guided Walking

Accommodation: Holnicote House, Selworthy

Departures: Aug 2023 - Mar 2024, 7 nights

Price from: £779pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

3-night Exmoor Gentle Guided Walking

Accommodation: Holnicote House, Selworthy

Departing: 8 Sept 2023, 3 nights

Price from: £499pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

Published 1st August 2023