CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

We took a peek at Cross Lane House in Allerford

PUBLISHED: 12:04 21 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:04 21 June 2016

Cross Lane House in the Exmoor village of Allerford

Cross Lane House in the Exmoor village of Allerford


Sarah Ford visits a wonderfully preserved late medieval hotel that has slowly revealed its secrets to its owners

After selling a successful restaurant business in Stratford-upon-Avon, Max Lawrence and Andrew Stinson spent five years searching the West Country for the right property.

Andrew saw Cross Lane House in Allerford first and returned home saying: “This is it, we have found it! We have to have this property.”

Tucked away in this pretty Exmoor village, the house was built in 1545 - although there is evidence to suggest some of the building was here earlier. It had been in a state of dereliction for five years but thanks to an outstanding team of local builders Cross Lane House began to emerge in its latest incarnation as a stunning boutique property.

Now run as a luxurious hotel and restaurant, with four sumptuous rooms for guests, Cross Lane House reached the finals of the 2014 Somerset Life Food and Drink Awards and more recently has received silver in the South West Tourism Awards Small Hotel of the Year category. Max and Andrew can be justifiably proud of their achievements.

Andrew takes a break from serving a delicious afternoon tea in the lounge and leads me on a tour of the historic building via one of the best preserved cross passages in the West Country with its old wood panelling.

“We had an American staying here and when we showed her around she said: ‘Well that says to me this tree was around when William the Conqueror was here.’

“We hadn’t thought about it in those terms,” says Andrew, pointing out some very old graffiti.

As Max and Andrew settled in, the house slowly began to reveal itself. One of its most charming hidden features is a brick in the dining room. Secretly hidden in the wall it had been inscribed with the words: ‘Christina I love you dearly. HB.’

“It was discovered when knocking through two room into one,” Andrew explains.

“We are unable to identify HB but the brick has been saved and is set into the wall to display this declaration of love.”

The bedrooms have been named after people who’ve been connected with the house, hence the Acland Suite for example, named after the ancient family who gave the Holnicote Estate to the National Trust in 1944.

“We’ve had some Aclands stay with us,” Andrew tells me.

“Mike Leach a retired park ranger and local wood carver, who was born in the house, gifted a carved owl to take the place of one his mother had in the window when he was a small boy.

“The original keys to the house were returned to us through the post with a note saying: ‘These do not belong with me anymore’, again from a former resident of the property.

“Many people have called and shared their recollections of happy times at the house.”

There are more surprises in the charming bedrooms – a wig cupboard in one and a handy cupboard for your blunderbuss in another!

The rooms are a carefully chosen eclectic mix of antiques and contemporary furnishings, paying respect to the history of the house but adding a warm contemporary feel.

Andrew’s plan was to give the appearance that this has evolved over time and has used a muted Farrow & Ball pallet and sumptuous Mulberry fabrics.

He came to Cross Lane House from a career in banking, having held various senior positions within Barclays. He did a course at Leicester College in interior design to develop an interest that he had held for many years.

Max has been in the hospitality industry since graduating from University College Birmingham and has had a wide variety of experience working for large international brands to country house hotels both in the UK and overseas.

“Provenance is extremely important to us with as much produce from the South West peninsula as possible,” explains Andrew.

“Our gardeners work diligently to provide the kitchen with fresh flowers, vegetables and herbs.

“All our meals are simply but expertly prepared and cooked to allow the true flavour of outstanding produce to shine through.”

Their guests enjoy afternoon tea, dinner, a special occasion or a break away. They come from all over the UK and Europe but Max and Andrew have been pleasantly surprised to welcome those from closer to home.

“We get a lot of people who come from Exeter, Bristol and Bath; we’ve even had somebody from the next village for dinner and to stay. It’s just nice to have a night away.”

Interiors tip

Wherever possible local tradespeople were used in the renovation of Cross Lane House, including blacksmiths at neighbouring Allerford Forge, building contractors HE Richards and electrical contractors James Electrics.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Somerset Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Somerset Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Somerset Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Homes & Gardens

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An 18th century manor house, which played a pivotal part in the history of English poetry, is up for sale

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Monday, June 25, 2018

Gardener and broadcaster Toby Buckland delivers his expert advice

Read more
Monday, May 21, 2018

We look at the people who are flying the flag for Somerset at this year’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

From flower gardens and greenhouses, to allotments and endless cider, people from all over Somerset are invited to down tools and celebrate their gardens no matter what size, shape or form on May 13 for Somerset Garden Day

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Add colour to your garden now with the top flowers of March and this season will be all the brighter

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Houseplants are a hot interior trend at the moment and can completely transform a room - but they have their downsides! Gardener and broadcaster Toby Buckland delivers his expert advice

Read more
Thursday, December 21, 2017

Richard Cooke and his partner Michael Taylor knew they wanted to buy their home as soon as they saw the front garden bursting with life and colour, they tell Victoria Jenkins

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search