Want to get one step closer to being a domestic goddess? Within the Cotswolds estate which offers courses in foraging and “tablescaping” – creating flower arrangements for dinner parties
- Miserden is in a ‘quiet part’ of Gloucestershire, popular with walkers
- It is a Jacobean mansion designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens
- Tablescaping is just one of the courses starting this summer
- Deirdre Fernand signs on and takes a ‘breath of fresh air’ during her stay
- “I plan to go back to forest bathing and lose myself in the lush forests,” she says
Ouch! The chicken wire has drawn blood and I wrestle with a stubborn rose. This flower spike is a lot harder than it looks. Sorry, I meant tablescaping.
I am in the elegant surroundings of Miserden, a country estate in the Cotswolds, learning how to make floral decorations for dinner parties.
A long time ago, I spent a month at Cordon Bleu cooking school, what was once known as “Bride Class”.
Charming: Deirdre Fernand tries out a flower arranging workshop at the Miserden Cotswolds estate (above), hoping it will take her ‘one step closer to being a domestic goddess’
Deirdre (far left) during her flower staking class
Now that I’m wielding secateurs and bending wires, I hope today’s workshop will bring me one step closer to being a domestic goddess. At least that’s the idea.
Tablescaping is just one of the courses to be launched this summer at Miserden, a Jacobean mansion designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and giving its name to the surrounding hamlet.
It’s a quiet part of Gloucestershire popular with walkers exploring the woodland trails.
With a handful of limestone houses, a church, shop and school, Miserden (population 100) is considered one of the prettiest villages in the county. And everything apart from the pub is owned by the Wills family.
Nicholas Wills is a outgoing 38-year-old former Watch Officer who took over the 850-acre estate from his father five years ago.
Raised here, he enjoyed a free-range childhood. “I would walk around all day,” he says. “My father used a school bell to call me to dinner; I didn’t always hear it.’
Herb discounts at Miserden are “stuffed with roses, delphiniums and poppies”
New for this season in Miserden is a real estate shop (pictured) and a renovated café
Workshops at Miserden include floristry, wood carving, foraging and cooking, forest bathing and jewelry making. Prices from £55 per person. See miserden.org for more information.
The formal gardens here are a horticultural paradise, rivaling those at the nearby Prince of Wales’s Barnsley House and Highgrove.
Herb borders are stuffed with roses, delphiniums and poppies, there is a yew path and an arboretum.
No wonder more than 6,000 visitors a year. The gardens are open Wednesday through Sunday during spring and summer, with reduced hours during winter. Nicholas has plans to increase that number: “I want to make Miserden a bigger tourist destination. I see it as a little-known secret.’
New for this season are a real estate shop, a refurbished café and a range of classes including wood carving and forest bathing.
Wills hopes visitors drawn to the courses will be charmed by Miserden – and I am. I stay in a wing of the house—arranged through Airbnb—and eat at The Bell at Sapperton, a country pub a ten-minute drive away, where my portion of haddock and fries is generous and delicious.
Back in Miserden, I take a walk before bed and find a meditative quality in the stillness and blackness of the night.
The next morning, as I follow a forest trail around the estate’s lake, I take a deep breath of fresh air. After two days of these simple rhythms, I feel like I’m on a spiritual retreat.
I can even handle the unforgiving chicken wire and my centerpiece is taking shape. I plan to return to forest bathing and lose myself in the lush forests – but not quite. I wouldn’t want to do without tea in the café. Anyway, I can be summoned. Just ring the school bell.