©2019 by Peter da Silva Communications

The Couple Transforming 45 Acres in the Heart of England. James and Fjona Hill at Hampton Manor

December 19, 2018

 

Hampton Manor is today an award-winning Restaurant with Rooms located in the village of Hampton-in-Arden, just 12 minutes outside of Birmingham. The family-run destination is home to 15 individually designed bedrooms inside the Manor, a cottage in the grounds and Michelin-starred Peel's Restaurant. Husband and wife team James and Fjona Hill have transformed this historic building in eight years. Today, three generations of the Hill family are shaping the estate's future. Many of the team have been here from the start. James and Fjona are involved in every aspect of the business.  

 

James grew up in the hospitality industry with his parents Jan and Derrick Hill; “My life in hospitality started around a very long table in a pub near Worcester. When Mum and Dad first bought The Pear Tree Inn we used to gather after every Sunday service with our staff for a big roast dinner together. It was usually followed by a game of rounders or cricket. Everyone joined in”.

 

When Jan and Derrick came to sell The Pear Tree back in 2005 the opportunity arose for them to invest in Hampton Manor, and they asked James and Fjona if they were up to the challenge of taking the helm. Over the next few years the couple carefully navigated the way between their determination to create a food-led destination restaurant, with James’s parents’ own vision for the business based on what they had built at The Pear Tree.

 

Peel’s Restaurant won a Michelin-star, Michelin’s Welcome and Service Award, and Four AA-Rosettes within the space of two weeks in 2016. Peel’s is home to simple British dishes cooked using seasonal ingredients and modern cooking techniques under Head Chef Rob Palmer. The restaurant is open Tuesday - Saturday offering dinner in a relaxed, spacious environment which seats 28 guests. Several tasting menus are available. The private dining Tasting Room brings guests into the heart of the action offering both privacy and entertainment with a front row view into the kitchen. A special opportunity to see the chefs at work from the comfort of a private dining room. Reservations are for 4-8 guests.

 

Last year James took a group of staff over to Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant Fäviken, where menus follow seasonal variations and the harvest is prepared using methods rediscovered from rich Jämtland mountain farm traditions. Whilst the food exquisitely evoked the surroundings, the feel of the place was what they wrote home about.

 

Fjona is responsible for the creative elements at Hampton Manor from interior design to photography. An exquisite new look was unveiled across the Manor’s public spaces and signature guestrooms at the end of 2017, and additions to the restaurant celebrate the best in British craftsmanship, while paying homage to the building’s 19th Century history. Guests can discover reimagined interiors created for a home-from-home country retreat feel, starting with a bespoke artwork by Chris de Souza, entitled The Manor’s Table. Fjona comments: ‘’When we first designed the manor, I was a first-year doctor managing a rather full on job!  I'd come home from a day of ward rounds and dive into fabric samples! Whilst the first fit out was beautiful and really well received, we hadn't got to grips with the roots of the Manor. I eventually left medicine, enamoured by a more creative career. As we delved more into the Arts and Crafts era, William Morris' philosophy towards design became our muse. In a time of industrialisation, he championed a positive rebellion. He moved back to 'slow craft' with its laborious attention to detail, always in love with nature and the tapestry of history. These values resonate so well with the remarkable dedication that our chefs show. So, as we refurbed, we re-imagined the house; I weaved in William Morris prints all over the building yet kept a distinctly contemporary aesthetic that is of our age. And it was real joy to work with local craftspeople to bring a new heritage to our story.” Hampton Manor's Arts and Crafts muse is William Morris and this is felt across the Manor.

 

By late 2018 Manor Cottage was unveiled in the grounds at Hampton Manor. Manor cottage can sleep up to six guests in two double bedrooms and on a sofa bed in a separate room. Spread over two floors, guests will find a large country kitchen opening onto an extensive breakfast room, a sun room, living room, dining room, two bedrooms on the top floor and an idyllic garden with croquet area its own Big Green Egg. Manor Cottage also features the latest Apple technology throughout.

 

At Hampton Manor, there are 45 acres of woodland and gardens for guests to explore using a dedicated ‘Field Guide’ which showcases footpaths and trees around the grounds. It is the perfect way to begin an evening at Hampton Manor before sunset. The Manor's walled garden was completed in 1891 and is worth a visit to explore home grown produce used in some of the dishes in Peel's Restaurant. 

 

What next? 2019 promises to be an exciting year of developments at the Manor with the unveiling of new stable bedrooms and the development of the walled garden. 

 

Hampton Manor dates to 1855 and if walls could talk, they would share many stories. This was the former estate of Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel and a labour of love for his son, Sir Frederic Peel. Architectural details, like the striking clock tower in the grounds, reflect the history of the original manor. Frederick was a proud industrialist and his home reflected his beliefs. 'Industria' is engraved on the staircase. 

In the heart of England, the table is laid and James and Fjona Hill await guests. 

 

www.hamptonmanor.com Shadowbrook Lane, Hampton-In-Arden, Solihull, B92 0DQ 
01675 446 080 Rooms priced from £180 B&B per night 
 

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