We initially came to Dorset to see the stunning Jurassic Coast and the equally stunning Summer Lodge (pictured above) en route to Cornwall. But we quickly decided to turn our overnight stop into a four day stay, over which we absolutely fell in love with Dorset and the tiny town of Evershot.
I first learned of the Summer Lodge when my friend Jackie visited them earlier in November, and sang the praises of the Jurassic Coast. The main lodge was originally built in 1798 as the dower house by the Earl of Ilchester, and the second floor was added a century later using designs drafted by architect and author Thomas Hardy. Today, Summer Lodge is also home to one of the most admired and award winning master sommeliers in the UK, as well as the best cheese cart in all of England boasting over 26 local artisanal cheeses with witty names (I liked “The Stinking Bishop” the best).
David and I were thrilled that one of the estate’s thatch cottages was available for our stay. Throughout our time in the United Kingdom I’ve wanted to experience a thatch and this little cluster of cottages date back to 17th century. While checking in I learned that the owner, Bea Tollman, had lovingly designed ever room herself and that each space at the Summer Lodge had a unique character and charm reflecting different styles and eras in English countryside decor. We stayed in Suite 28, which has a sitting room on the ground floor with a fireplace, leather wingback chairs and a plaid loveseat – the perfect space for taking afternoon tea (and enjoying the Lodge’s amazing shortbread) while the fire crackled, not to mention a massive canopy bed to greet us when we turned in that night after dinner.
Dorset is the home to England’s Jurassic Coast – 95 miles of spectacular coastline from East Devon to Dorset, covered in fossil cliffs recording 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Alex, the GM at Summer Lodge, recommended a brilliant drive from Evershot to Burton Bradstock and then on to Abbotsbury to take in the best views along the coast. Despite the cold, we spent over an hour on the beach in Burton Bradstock admiring the cliffs and hunting for fossils with cold fingers amongst the rocks on the beach. If you saw my Instagram stories you know we found SO MANY FOSSILS. Both large and small — and it was better than any museum visit. The Jurassic Coast is England’s first Natural UNESCO World Heritage site, and I highly recommend including it on your 2018 bucket list, if you have plans to visit England.
After our stay in the Summer Lodge, we stopped by the Acorn Inn, a sweet pub and inn across the street, for drinks. We loved our time there so much, we decided to book a room for the night (which turned into 3 more nights)! This historic inn is featured in Thomas Hardy’s famed novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles and is the hub of Evershot’s community life today, as well as the best country pub I’ve ever tried. Our friend Joe was looking for a cozy place to finish his book, so we told him to fly in from Amsterdam and meet us in Evershot. We picked him up at the nearby Exeter airport, and he joined us for one, two then three cozy evenings (we couldn’t pull ourselves away, even though we had to change rooms each night due our to the last minute bookings). The days were spent chatting over fabulous food (I tried a different dish each night and firmly believe you can’t go wrong when you order), sampling local gins and watching locals play “skittles” (the English predecessor to bowling). Besides finishing his book, Joe is working on preserving his family cottage in Kenmare, Ireland, and we discussed possible designs, taking inspiration from the cute inn surroundings. The Acorn Inn is just across the street from The Summer Lodge (and under the same ownership) so we popped back to the Summer Lodge as well for the occasional whiskey and crisps.
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for stacieflinner.com