by Shanna F. Jones
An English adventure to a Lord of the Rings country house, if Bilbo Baggins enjoyed contemporary and spacious architecture.
After a 20-minute drive along winding country roads from the quaint market town of Shrewsbury, the Shippen lies snugly the Shropshire hillside, and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Greeted by humble hosts Jeannie and Paul, guests are made to feel as though nothing is too much trouble. The building is a converted barn with exquisite attention to detail. Vintage furniture, one off pieces from local artists and all the cooking equipment your little heart could desire.
The high beamed ceilings, traditional to British country houses, make the space expansive. But the openness is harmonized by a cosy wood burner, multiple sofas and fluffy rugs.
The bed, clad in pristine white cotton and stylish woollen pillows, is set at the front of the open-plan room next to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Sitting in bed with a cup of tea the following morning, the only thing between me and abundant nature was the private wooden veranda overlooking the flower garden, woods and fields.
Being in the location it’s in, five miles from the nearest town, some prospective visitors would be forgiven for wondering whether they were going to be bored senseless surrounded by sheep and birdsong alone.
There was no chance of boredom during our stay. The adorable town of Bishop’s Castle nearby is home to five country pubs, all unique in character. Boutique shops pepper the high street, while galleries and a farmer’s markets make for an interesting day out.
We spent the evening in the oldest brewery in Britain, the Three Tuns, which has been pulling pints since 1642. Jeannie and Paul sweetly came to pick us up at closing time, allowing us to sample (possibly a few too many) of their real ales next to the cosy open fire.
History fanatics, story lovers and geologists will be in their element visiting south Shropshire. Once home to Charles Darwin and A. E. Housman, seek and you will find ancient volcanos, fossils with evidence of the first signs of life on earth and bewitching folklore tales.
Sit on the veranda at the Shippen with a cup of tea or a glass of English Pimm’s and be engulfed in the seasons in their rawest form. Full bloom in Spring, summer haze, autumn green and gold fire or winter white snow blanket. No wonder this corner of Shropshire inspired JRR Tolkien.
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