Cowley Manor is one of the most famous buildings in the country. This is partly because of its Italianate exterior which is rare for a grand stately home. Based on the Villa Borghese in Rome and echoing the architecture of Chatsworth and Cliveden, the Main House at Cowley was designed by R.A. Briggs to showcase this new style of country living. Take a look below to see the transformation of Cowley over the centuries.

Recorded in the Doomesday Book, the village of Cowley in Gloucestershire certainly has plenty of history and the tale of the Manor house is no less intriguing. The present Church dates back to the 13th Century when the wealthy Berkley family that once owned most of the county was in charge. But there’s been a settlement on the site for far, far longer.

Repeatedly knocked down and rebuilt over time, today’s Cowley manor was begun in 1850 by James Hutchinson, another wealthy landowner. He built a square house in the Italian style incorporating the stones of the previous dwelling on the site. This forms the East end of the present building.

Sir James Horlick (of Malted Milk fame) is responsible for the Manor’s present-day appearance. At the start of the 20th century, he completed the works to link the East and West wings into the integrated whole seen today. He also rebuilt several houses in the village and is responsible for laying out the enchanting gardens.

Enjoying the prime position in the lea of the church, the gardens, sheltered from the prevailing winds, are a delight to discover and inspired one Charles Dodgson, better known by his nom de plume, Lewis Carroll, to write Alice in Wonderland during his many stays at Cowley.

During the second World War, Cowley Manor was requisitioned to house Cheltenham Ladies College and keep the ladies safe from Luftwaffe bombing raids. Although, the occupation of the Ladies is apparently unrelated to the disrepair into which the building subsequently fell.

In 1999 Peter & Jessica Frankopan began a three year, meticulous rebuild and conversion of the Manor to the hotel and spa of today, with 15 splendid bedrooms with large bathrooms in the main house, and a conversion of the stable block to provide further accommodation over three levels.

English Heritage granted exceptional permission for the construction of the C-side Spa in the Grade II listed grounds and now refer to it as one of the most exciting and leading projects in an historical setting in the South of the UK.

The manor’s General Manager is Emma Beddall who said “At the Cowley Manor our food is a celebration of England’s eclectic culinary influences with dishes that are ingredient driven. We pride ourselves on offering the very best to our guests and every touch point must be first class. We chose Radford from Robert Welch with the contemporary classic feel that is so befitting of Cowley.”