Playing the generation game in historic manor

Recently-renovated Soldon Manor in north Devon.
Recently-renovated Soldon Manor in north Devon.

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When my wife suggested going away with 10 of her relatives, I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Obviously I’m very keen on my in-laws, but 10 is rather a lot and four of them spend most of their time screaming and throwing things around – and that’s not the kids.

So it was with some reluctance that I agreed to go.

But when she showed me the huge manor house we’d be staying in, with plenty of space to hide in, I began to think it wouldn’t be such a bad break after all.

Packed into four cars, eight adults and four children, with various bikes, pushchairs and toys, we headed en masse to Soldon Manor, a stunning 16th century manor house that would be our home for the week in north Devon.

Frankly, if I owned the place I’d rather let it to a stag party than our destructive whirlwind rabble, but there you go.

The recently-renovated house is in a beautiful spot, with one-and-a-half acres of grounds – big enough to let the youngsters loose and still find a quiet, relaxing spot with a glass of wine and lovely views.

And the house has got a huge dining hall that’s like something out of Harry Potter, which was great for bringing everyone together for evening meals after the days’ various activities.

Three miles from the ancient village of Bradbury, it offers an ideal base from which to explore the sandy north Cornish beaches around Bude, spectacular north Devon cliff walks, Dartmoor National Park to the south and Exmoor to the east.

During a week of great weather we found plenty of things to do to keep the kids and the adults happy.

Clovelly is a lovely historic village that’s well worth a visit for a day.

There’s lots to do including craft and pottery workshops for children and adults, guided tours and a chance to handle owls and birds of prey.

There are also a couple of museums, donkey stables and places to eat and drink, although I should warn you that the steep cobbled street is not pushchair-friendly.

Nearby is The Milky Way Adventure Park, which has rides, a play area and live shows for the children.

The Big Sheep is another attraction that went down well with the little ones in our group, with a chance to meet some farmyard animals as well as more rides and live shows.

After a week of keeping the children happy, we finally decided that what we really needed was a trip to a brewery.

The St Austell Brewery is a bit of a drive away, but it runs tours that are interesting and, more importantly, the beer is great – just make sure you’re not the designated driver.

And if you’re on holiday with your in-laws and extended family, then you might want to get a case of ale to take away with you.


West Country self-catering specialists Helpful Holidays have more than 600 places to stay sleeping two to 47 across Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.

To book Soldon Manor, which sleeps 14 plus the family pet dog, call 01647 434063 or go to searching for ref K34; prices start from £1,187 per week or £848 for a three-night break.

Clovelly historic village costs £6.50 for adults, £4 for children 7-16. Go to

Milky Way Adventure Park costs £12.50 for adults and children over three, or £11 online at Call 01237 431 255.

Tours of the St Austell Brewery cost £10 and booking in advance is advisable – call 01726 66022.