Stay in a 14th Century Saxon manor at Gotten Manor

Gotten Manor is literally in a world of its own as a beautifully restored 14th century Saxon manor nestled in five acres, beneath St Catherine's Down, on the Isle of Wight's most southerly point. Miles off the beaten track, the manor house is steeped in romance from its glorious peaceful setting to roaring log fires, roll top cast iron baths, crisp white linen and fluffy robes.

Gotten has great environmental ethics adopted by owner Caroline Gurney-Champion who sources everything from the Island and makes whatever she can such as organic jams, marmalades, yoghurt, and compote. Even the house’s water supply comes from the local stream.

Caroline has owned Gotten Manor since 1987 after she spotted it advertised for sale in the local newspaper. “I fell in love with the seclusion of where Gotten is - virtually hidden from the outside world,” explains Caroline.  “I’ve never tired of looking out of the windows. I just love not hearing any traffic - all you can hear is the wind, trees and birds.” She was married at the time and went on to raise four children at the manor. “It’s always been a family home and all my children have loved growing up here,” she says. Gotten is so much a part of her family she even gave birth to her youngest child here. “My children were small when we started the B&B in the oldest part of the manor,” explains Caroline. “The reason why it works so well is because it is separate from the our family part so guests have their own entrance and section of the garden. It’s quite quirky but people seem to like it,” she says.

The renovations have been extensive and she has also converted three barns into self-catering cottages within the grounds. Lime washed walls, 200-year old beams, polished wooden floors, Farrow & Ball colours with chic understated furniture throughout and a Shaker style kitchen. A welcome basket of local vegetables and sprigs of wildflowers await new guests.  Caroline clearly has an eye for interior finishes and her winning formula of personal touches, such as handpicked garden flowers in each room, ticks the boxes.   “I like to keep things simple with no clutter, so there are no pictures on the walls,” she says. But equally details are important to her. “I make up my own bottles of shampoo and nice soaps for guest to use. I always make sure there are plenty of candles in each room to add to the ambiance in the B&B as I try to make it as a romantic as possible,” says Caroline.

You can’t beat a Rosewood bed with top-notch linen, lighted candles at bath-time with wine-filled glass to hand. No surprises then that the majority of her B&B guests are couples.  Many romancing couples have become engaged at Gotten Manor. “I’ve had plenty of boyfriends phone me up beforehand to say they are planning to propose to their girlfriends – could I supply some champagne. One eager boyfriend flew over from America to propose,” says Caroline.   While her B&B is filled with gooey-eyed couples noshing merrily on Caroline’s locally produced deliciously cooked breakfasts, her self-catering cottages crowd are a different mix - namely families. The cottages are already fully booked for Christmas, a pattern repeated every year.

Gotten Manor is open all year round bar the B&B at Christmas. Her family have given her strict instructions to take time-out during the Christmas festivities. Caroline readily admits that if she had her way she’d be open 365 days a year. “There’s always so much to do here I actually need to be ordered to stop working,” she confesses. “I really like what I do because I just love meeting people.” She recently had a Korean family staying who spoke no English. “There was an awful lot of bowing to each other but at least no embarrassing faux pas,” she recalls.

Many of her guests come for special occasions such as birthdays, a wedding night or wedding anniversary, as the lure of Gotten Manor is its timeless and tranquil magical quality. She once had two mediums staying at the same time. “They were totally unrelated to each other - so that was amazing coincidence; but they both saw ghosts everywhere,” recalls Caroline. As yet neither Caroline or her family or any of the guests have seen a ghost. “If there is one it would certainly be a happy one,” she says breezily. Her countless contended guests would no doubt agree with this.

Sarah Sims

11 April 2016

By Sarah Sims in Articles