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Old John is a folly at the top the highest hill in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, England. It was built in 1784, by Thomas Sketchley of Anstey as a mock ruin. It was adapted in the 19th century by the seventh Earl of Stamford and Warrington to serve as an observation tower for the practice circuit he laid out for his horses. The mug shape has given rise to false accounts of the tower's origins supposedly relating to a beer-loving miller who was killed after being hit by a pole during a bonfire.

ESSENTIAL STAYCATIONS: EXPERIENCE LUXURY GLAMPING IN THE HISTORIC HEART OF ENGLAND

BOUTIQUE STAYS AT MALLORY MEADOWS

Tucked away near Kirkby Mallory in Leicestershire, Mallory Meadows offers affordable luxury breaks in boutique accommodations. Six retreats spread across a private meadow create an idyllic escape to nature, with guests housed in a mixture of timber-clad lodges and romantic roundhouses. Each comes with its own private hot-tub – perfect for stargazing or watching the sunset over the rolling countryside.

The cabins cater for couples and small families, with two pet-friendly options for well-behaved dogs. Inside awaits a well-equipped, cosy sanctuary, with king size beds, Freeview TV, en-suite shower rooms and a kitchenette in all accommodations.

A LABOUR OF LOVE

Emily-Jane and Chris Tams fulfilled their dreams when they opened Mallory Meadows in 2018. “After starting our family, we wanted the opportunity to raise our children in beautiful, natural surroundings,” said Emily-Jane. “Chris and I were both raised nearby in Earl Shilton and when the site came up for sale, we knew it would be the perfect spot to start our dream business and lifestyle.”

Leaving their careers behind and drawing on Emily-Jane’s farming background, the couple built Mallory Meadows to share their love of the outdoors.

“It’s a real mood-lifter, seeing guests’ faces when we check them in and showing them round our nook of green and nature. The space has the best of all worlds – peace and quiet, great road links and accessible countryside. Our aim is for guests to leave us feeling relaxed, happy and reconnected.”

EXPLORE STUNNING LEICESTERSHIRE

The location makes Mallory Meadows a great base to explore the Leicestershire countryside and its charming Market Towns. Emily and Chris provide each visitor with a digital guide showcasing their love of the local area. The guide covers every type of interest, from countryside walks and historical sites to family activities, pubs and restaurants and quirky attractions – Tropical Birdland, anyone?

They even recommend local takeaways that deliver for those who cannot bear to leave the seclusion of their cabin – which is a common occurrence. For those who have experienced this small slice of country paradise, it is hard to leave behind.

“I love opening the curtains in the morning and seeing what we have created together,” continues Emily-Jane, “but the real thrill comes from seeing our guests have a perfect short break. Winning awards and commendations is great, but personal reviews from our guests who return time and time again – that’s what it’s really about, for us.”