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Nurturing Nostalgia At Glebe House, A Guest House and Restaurant in Rural Devon

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Nurturing Nostalgia At Glebe House, A Guest House and Restaurant in Rural Devon

George Chesterton and Olive Guest July 12, 2023

The view from the front door of Glebe House is of rolling, ruched-up fields, hidden ha-has, evergreen woodland, ancient farmsteads and their flocks—and a gardener riding a sit-on mower, carefully clipping the front lawn. It’s a scene that hasn’t changed in all the years Hugo Guest has known it.

glebe house: a former vicarage overlooking the unchanged coly valley in east de 17
Above: Glebe House: a former vicarage overlooking the unchanged Coly Valley in East Devon.

Hugo grew up in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty before leaving for university and a life in London. In 2020, when his parents suggested selling up, the lure of the valley proved too strong. Hugo and his wife, Olive, returned to rural Devon with a view to transformed his childhood home into a guesthouse and restaurant. The couple had spent some time abroad, finding inspiration in Italian “agrotourismos”, working farms with accommodation and a food offering that showcases the best of local produce. Hugo had also spent the previous two years working as a chef in some of London’s top restaurants. With the world in lockdown, the couple began transforming the 15 acres surrounding Glebe House, planting a vegetable and cutting garden, creating a space for pigs and chickens, and converting an old garage into an on-site bakery and temperature-controlled aging room for salumi production, a craft honed by Hugo in Italy.

the kitchen garden, which directly informs what appears on the daily changing m 18
Above: The kitchen garden, which directly informs what appears on the daily-changing menu. There are a range of “food experiences” available to guests at Glebe, including pasta making, bread making, mackerel fishing, and seasonal beach suppers.
hugo, olive, and their son, rufus. 19
Above: Hugo, Olive, and their son, Rufus.

Craft cooking and artisan techniques are central to the experience of Glebe House, but so too is art and creativity. Whilst the land was being transformed, the generous Georgian rooms were being joyfully reimagined by the couple under the guidance of their friend Alexandra Childs of Studio Alexandra. “Olive and Hugo were very inspired by Charleston and the Bloomsbury group,” Alexandra explains. “We took the playfulness of the interiors from there and combined this with Olive’s love of flowers and color.”

Olive’s own canvases hang on the walls alongside work and handmade objects by other local artists. (All art is available to purchase.) Inspired by the Bloomsbury set, shutters, wardrobes, tiles, and lampshades have all been brought to life with an expressive palette of pinks, greens, pale yellows, and peach. Florals abound. The result is a multi-sensory, multi-award-winning, hospitable haven that blossoms with ideas and inspiration.

Let’s take a tour:

guests enter via the garden room, which is shaded by a vine that hugo uses to m 20
Above: Guests enter via the garden room, which is shaded by a vine that Hugo uses to make his equivalent of dolmades. There are two tables set up here for informal feasting. The terracotta tiles are by Artisans of Devizes.
the central hallway, where guests check in. &#8\2\20;the connecting spaces& 21
Above: The central hallway, where guests check in. “The connecting spaces—the hallway and landing—are comparatively neutral to the main ground floor rooms and bedrooms,” explains Alexandra. “This was intentional, as we didn’t want the experience of moving through the house to feel too intense and jarring. There needed to be a rhythm of how you experienced the key rooms, such as the pink sitting room and striped dining room. They needed to be allowed to sing.”
the kitchen hatch (hand painted by olive) is stocked with freshly baked sourdou 22
Above: The kitchen hatch (hand-painted by Olive) is stocked with freshly baked sourdough. “Craft cooking” is central to the ethos at Glebe House. Everything from the butter to the brown sauce is homemade.
the dining room, which overlooks the coly valley, has been painted in wide stri 23
Above: The dining room, which overlooks the Coly Valley, has been painted in wide stripes (‘Puck’ by Little Greene). The curtains are Wilhelmina Ivory by Morris & Co.
&#8\2\20;the interiors have an element of whimsy that perhaps you wouldn&#x 24
Above: “The interiors have an element of whimsy that perhaps you wouldn’t normally have in your own home, but  that really works in this setting,” says Alexandra. “The deep pink of the sitting room (Fruit Fool by Farrow & Ball) feels amazing in the evening, and during the day the color gives off a good vibration!” The yellow sofa is a Facebook Marketplace find, reupholstered in a Fermoie fabric. The chairs belonged to Hugo’s parents.
the pink and white striped sofa belonged to hugo’s parents and has sat i 25
Above: The pink-and-white striped sofa belonged to Hugo’s parents and has sat in the same room for years. It has been reupholstered in Jane Churchill’s Almora Stripe. The rug and bamboo screen are secondhand finds from Etsy and eBay. The embroidered armchair was found locally at Kingsettle Antiques.
the ground floor bathroom, with chintz constance wallpaper by ottoline in green 26
Above: The ground floor bathroom, with Chintz Constance wallpaper by Ottoline in green and lilac. The pictures here have been in the family for years. The sink was a Facebook Marketplace find. The linen curtain is from The Cloth Shop.
  the old kitchen is a spacious, self contained (and dog friendly) annex s 27
Above:  The Old Kitchen is a spacious, self-contained (and dog-friendly) annex situated in the oldest part of the house, which dates back to the 1800s. The walls are Middleton Pink by Farrow & Ball.
there are five bedrooms upstairs in the main house. this is the copper beech ro 28
Above: There are five bedrooms upstairs in the main house. This is the Copper Beech Room (named after the glistening, mature copper beech outside the window). The wallpaper in the en-suite is Wild Strawberries by the local Devonshire-based artist Honor Addington.
this room is called the old boys&#8\2\17; room as it&#8\2\17;s where hu 29
Above: This room is called The Old Boys’ Room as it’s where Hugo and his brother once slept. The striped paper cord lampshade is from Sklum; the headboards are Kalamkari by Zoffany; the walls are Desert Rose by Paint and Paper Library.
the bathroom in the old boys&#8\2\17; room, featuring a vintage washstand a 30
Above: The bathroom in The Old Boys’ Room, featuring a vintage washstand and an arch of floral prints.
the characterful tulip room is papered in little wild tulips in red by ottoline 31
Above: The characterful Tulip Room is papered in Little Wild Tulips in Red by Ottoline. 
the glowing morning room boasts spectacular views over coly valley. the ceiling 32
Above: The glowing Morning Room boasts spectacular views over Coly Valley. The ceiling has been painted Straw by Farrow & Ball; the throw is from a store in nearby Penzance; the curtains are made from fabric from The Cloth Shop.
the rose room is the largest room in the house and is named after the climbing  33
Above: The Rose Room is the largest room in the house and is named after the climbing pink rose that frames the external windows.
it features a freestanding tub and an iron canopy bed. the walls are papered in 34
Above: It features a freestanding tub and an iron canopy bed. The walls are papered in Daisy by Archive by Sanderson. Bed linen is sourced from the Dorset-based company Pushpanjale Cottons.
tucked under an oak tree in a quiet corner of the garden is southleigh wood cab 35
Above: Tucked under an oak tree in a quiet corner of the garden is Southleigh Wood Cabin. This self-contained cedar-clad cabin is designed for two and features a large outdoor fireclay bathtub. Inside, a booklet explains how the entire cabin was constructed from trees retrieved, milled, machined, and assembled within a two-mile radius of the cabin.
the cabin has been divided into three: a seating area featuring a wall hanging  36
Above: The cabin has been divided into three: a seating area featuring a wall hanging from Slowdown Studio; a handcrafted kitchenette made from local beech and tulip wood; and a sleeping area and shower room.
the mural next to the bed was painted by the local artist rosie harbottle, insp 37
Above: The mural next to the bed was painted by the local artist Rosie Harbottle, inspired by the flowers that grow at Glebe.

There is a pervasive nostalgia to Glebe House—a feeling that’s stoked by the spirited interiors, family keepsakes, and the carefully crafted food but also by the physical presence of the former owners, Emma and Chuck, who still come here to play tennis and drink coffee in the garden room. In fact, several of Emma’s friends have come to work at Glebe House and can be found pegging out the washing, ironing the napkins, and replenishing the vases. Their presence gives Glebe that indelible—and inimitable—feel of a family home that has welcomed and nourished guests for centuries.

For more creative places to stay, head to our Design Travel archives.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the location of Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant in Devon, UK?

Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant is located in Devon, UK. Exact address is not mentioned in the article.

What are the facilities offered by Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant?

The article does not mention specific facilities offered by Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant. It focuses more on the design and visual aspects of the property.

Can you book a stay at Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant?

The article does not provide information on booking a stay at Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant. It is recommended to reach out to them directly for booking inquiries.

Does Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant have a restaurant?

Yes, as the name suggests, Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant does have a restaurant on-site.

Is the restaurant at Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant open to the public?

The article does not explicitly state whether the restaurant at Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant is open to the public. It may be advisable to contact them directly for more information about dining options.

Does Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant offer any special cuisine?

The article does not provide specific details about the cuisine offered at Glebe House Guest House & Restaurant. It mostly focuses on the overall experience and design.

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