The Most Amazing English Country House Of Them All



Hey Everyone,


Before we get into today’s beautiful topic. (well, I think so) about the most amazing country house of them all.



Yes, WE!!! Because without you, there would be no win. So, thank you, thank you to the many of you who voted. I won by over 800 votes! The contest was for the top 100 interior design influencers nominated on Design Hounds.

So far, I have won an expensive vent hood which I cannot use. lol and a free trip to Orlando for the kitchen and bath show.

I went last year and it was THE best group ever and waaaay too much fun. Veronica Eagleson sure knows how to pamper the bloggers on tour with her.


I’m so, so happy!




And I’ve also been asked to speak on a panel again.


Oh, and I do have the option to give the vent hood away, so please stay tuned for that.

There is another prize for a trip to Milan and that decision is by a Jury. It is unlikely that I will win that one too. But that is absolutely fine.


So enough about me…


And onto the beauty.

After we spent about two hours–tops at Ben’s, we got on the bus and I searched for my cell phone charger which as I mentioned was nowhere to be found.

Ben was with us on the bus and he took us to neighbors of his in Long Bredy, very close to Little Bredy, where Ben lives. Both are in the county of Dorset.


I honestly didn’t think anything could top Ben’s home.


I was wrong.

Oh, don’t misunderstand. Ben’s house is sublime and I adore it and those gardens, oh my!

But this next place is on a completely different plane.

It is the home of Harriet and Anthony Coote Sykes.  They’re blue-bloods, for sure and poor Mr. Sykes, or actually, he might even be a Sir, was in the hospital getting ready for a little foot surgery. However, Mrs. Sykes could not have been a more charming hostess.


We walked into the entry and I nearly passed out.


Not the low blood pressure kind of passing out, but the it’s so incredible, the blood just drained from my head kind of passing out.

The home was built by Anthony Sykes some 20 years ago; his dream home. They named it Bellamont House.

He chose to build it in a “sham” neo-gothic style.

What does that mean?

It means gorgeous architecture together with massive amounts of whimsy and unabashed fakery.


Dang, that phone charger. But never mind. I needed to get pics of this one and we were allowed.

As I mentioned, one of my biggest challenges was getting shots where I didn’t have a close-up shot of someone’s arse because they stepped into the frame just as I snapped.

And while I have some great shots, I have supplemented some from both an amazing spread in Architectural Digest and a couple that Ben had taken and used on his blog. I’ve slowly been reading his blog and if you haven’t, you must. It’s beautiful and a lot of fun.


If you are going to build the most amazing English Country House, it better be on the most amazing English Country Property.



Okay, we can tick that box off. Although I never saw this particular view.

via Dorset Echo (you can see Harriet and Anthony in this article)

I didn’t see this view either. We are actually looking at the back of the house.

However, I did see this view from the upstairs master bedroom.

This is only a tiny portion of it because the real panoramic view is far greater.

It is a jaw-dropper, for sure!

After a brief introduction by Harriet in front of the house…


We were ushered through a vestibule. (Are those not the most way cool umbrella holders you’ve ever seen?)

into a very large double-height entry room.

Yes, wow, is right.

The above two images are via Architectural Digest.

This view is in the opposite direction. Ben Pentreath took this image.


Those columns that look just a little too flat are paper.


And there a lot of them!

With a wink and sly smile, Ben said that he had “chastised” Sir Anthony because “The Corinthian order is supposed to be on top.”

Too funny.


But it was about then, that I knew that I had to seize the chance to take photos of empty rooms


I quickly slithered into the adjacent sitting room which is quite large and a maximalist’s English country house dream!


Got it!

Love the sun streaming in.

I did try to follow some of the commentary, but it’s difficult for me under any circumstances.

Some of the paintings are their actual ancestors and some are fakes. (repros) Some are the real thing meaning, genuine old oil paintings.

Then, I quickly ran over to the middle of the room where jutting out is this incredible dining room. More swooning at what I could not believe I was seeing! How gorgeous is this!

Then, I turned around to get the fireplace. I cannot express how fabulous it was standing in this incredible room!

This was such a difficult shot because there was a lamp in my way and I either had to shoot above it or stand in front, but the latter was too close.

Normally, I would’ve liked a little breathing room at the bottom of that fabulous opium coffee table, but over-all, I’m happy that I got at least a relatively straight shot.

A slightly closer view which shows more detail and a better view of the Georgian English fender. These are in ALL of the great English country houses. That means they are in pretty much every house we visited.


There are numerous companies which custom-make these fireplace fenders in the UK.


I’m not sure if you can get them here. I mean, you can probably have something like this made. If anyone knows of a great source in the US, please let us know!

Then, they came pouring in– with Ben. Was I listening to a word he was saying? Well, some of it yes, because I remember making a remark about the chintz.


Here’s where it gets really fun!


We used that chintz on two love seats for a job circa 1993 when I was working for another decorator!

It’s from Lee Jofa, but alas it’s been discontinued.

However, I found a few yards on Etsy. (the link is in the widget below)

They should really call it “Heavens To Etsy!” ;]

english country house - chintz roses and bows - at etsy

This is a link for ten yards. Please see the widget for the 3-yard piece.


So glad that I found this image in the Architectural Digest article.

This is exactly how it looked that day, just sunnier.

And this one of the wall-paper banister.

Art, art, art. All of the great English country houses have vast art collections.

I didn’t take any photos of the bedrooms. I feel a little creepy taking pics of folk’s private areas.

But while most people were upstairs, I ran back downstairs to see if I missed anything.

Yes! The not-very-big-but-oh-so-charming-kitchen. This is my photo.

Their daughter was visiting with her adorable baby and she came in and we had a lovely convo.

These people are all sooooooo nice and seemed genuinely happy to have us invade their home!

I didn’t get the other side of the room, but here it is via AD.

And here’s another image by AD of the living room. The article wasn’t that long ago. Yes, some things may have been changed by the homeowner.

But I found an older image taken by Ben and the fabulous green Chinoiserie whatever that thing is on the coffee table – haha was there. That means in all likelihood, the stylist took it off and stuck the flowers there instead.

If you scroll back up to the image with Ben, you’ll see that coincidentally, the angle of the shot is very close. What do you think? I think it’s a fabulous piece but they probably thought that for the photo it called too much attention to itself. It doesn’t in the room, but photos are different.

Anthony and Harriet going for a stroll on their property with the dogs and their sheep! I’m still not sure if he has the title of “sir” but he should! So, I’m sticking with it! (I was informed later, that while a gentleman, Anthony has not been knighted by the queen– yet.)


And for fun, I made a little widget for y’all.


Make no mistake, I had to stop myself so that I could write the bloody post. ;]

What that means is making these widgets and searching for all of the beautiful things is way too much fun for me!

I could’ve gone further, but hopefully, I caught at least part of the essence of Anthony’s and Harriet’s fabulous decor.







7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Val - October 19, 2017 - 8:12 AM

    Congratulations! I am so glad you won! Voted for you, had a look at some of the other nominees, and I honestly think that you are the best.

    PS – the 2 horses on the entry room table. We have exactly the same in front of the living room fireplace. Laurel, the posts about you trip to England really make me appreciate our house more than I used to 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 19, 2017 - 11:49 AM

      Hi Val,

      Thank you for your kind words and vote! And I’m glad that the homes made you appreciate yours. I think that American homes that we see in magazines tend to make everything look too glossy perfect and it feels unnatural, and definitely not attainable. I would love to see a before (the stylist came) and after they did a number on the room(s). ReplyCancel

  • Hollie @ Stuck on Hue - October 17, 2017 - 10:56 AM

    Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. What a home. I’m not a maximalist, so it would be too much for me every day, but I sure would love to stay at a house like that for a while. So grand, yet comes across as cozy.

    You’re smart to leave the group to get the good photos. I kept doing that during a walking tour on our recent vacation to Charleston. I missed some of the stories that way, but got the good pics without someone walking in front of me.


    P.S. Thanks for including my malachite lumbar in your widget! I am still drooling over the GIANT triptych from WSH in your last hot sales widget. I considered it for an empty hallway wall, but it’s so huge with all three pieces, and I like it best with all three. Alas.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 17, 2017 - 10:38 PM

      Hi Hollie,

      Always nice to see you here! I guess it’s time for a new home to accomodate the triptych! haha!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - October 13, 2017 - 12:51 AM

    Dear Sweet Laurel,
    I am thrilled with your win! I knew in my heart you would win because YOU are so very fabulous! I love every post but you already knew that. England is on my bucket list, being 70 I sure hope I get there while I can still walk, so I find this post exceptionally wonderful. The whole thing is so beautiful but I honestly feel for me it would be overwhelming, too much stuff. Is that the American in me or OCD?
    I bought two items from your clothing post The raincoat and a blue blouse I LOVE both and I can not believe the prices! I can’t believe that I will be wearing something that you will. So thank you once again.I am looking forward to your (our)shopping trip for Milan.
    Thank you for letting us live vicariously through you 🙂
    Congratulations, you definitely deserved it!
    Much love,ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2017 - 12:06 PM

      Hi Sandy,

      Well, thank you for making my day with this most darling note. As for the contest, I won because of all of YOU! And I am incredibly touched by the love and support I have received. It truly is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me!

      As for this home. Not all English people have this aesthetic. I have one more house which is so amazing and I think will appeal to nearly everyone because it is traditional in design, but feels contemporary in the way its furnished. But, it’s definitely NOT you. I love a lot of different things, but I don’t think I would ever do all of this to my home. This place is more like a showhouse which is traditional and avant-garde at the same time.

      But no matter what, if all of the furnishings were removed and the fake pilasters replaced with real ones, etc. you would have a thoroughly classic, architectural gem which could go in so many different directions.

      There are even some similarities to our Furlow Gatewood.

      Now, you could just plunk me down there and not change so much as a throw pillow and I would be blissfully content. I do not need peacocks however. haha.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - October 12, 2017 - 11:20 PM

    I’ll take Ben’s house any day!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2017 - 11:53 AM

      Me too! But Ben and Charlie need to come with it! (well, at least a couple days a week). Otherwise, that garden is going to go to pot and I will never figure out how to work the stove. hahaReplyCancel

  • Libby - October 12, 2017 - 10:56 PM

    Congratulations on your win and the KBIS trip!

    What a fascinating property. I really enjoyed the photo of the group in the living room and seeing the scale of the room and furnishings. It looked like everyone could have sat or mingled all afternoon very comfortably. Charming.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 13, 2017 - 11:52 AM

      Yes, it is that kind of house and the owners couldn’t have been warmer. We were a tad early for tea, but we did have a lovely tea at the next house. ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie Pfeiffer - October 12, 2017 - 4:07 PM

    Gaaaaaa! Yes, jaw dropping. Thanks for sharing this experience with us. And congratulations on your win. All the hard work you do is appreciated, and it’s wonderful that you are being recognized for your talent and passion for design. Take a bow! Well deserved!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 5:25 PM

      Thanks so much Sherrie and glad that you enjoyed the post!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - October 12, 2017 - 1:43 PM

    I guess nobody told them that red walls are so passe’. Ha Ha Don’t they read all the articles that tell them which color they should be using this year? (Insert sarcastic tone here.) Well, the kitchen looks red on my monitor, anyway, and I like it.

    Thanks for sharing. I love looking at different architecture.

    Congratulations. Well deserved win.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Allen - October 12, 2017 - 1:31 PM

    Yay!!!! I am so thrilled that you won Laurel!!!! I voted as many times as I possibly could, because you so deserve it!! Loving every detail of your fabulous trip and your photos are exquisite !!!❤ReplyCancel

  • Dian - October 12, 2017 - 1:28 PM

    It’s definitely of the “More is More” philosophy of decorating! Fun!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 2:54 PM

      Yes, more is more and curated clutter! :] Although, I hate to use the word “clutter” in this context!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Dragon - October 12, 2017 - 1:01 PM

    Congratulations on your win! Now, about the English Country House — 50% beautiful and fabulous — 50% god-awful. All the fake “architectural detail” in wallpaper – gaudy and over-done.ReplyCancel

    • Lorri - October 12, 2017 - 1:24 PM

      Yes, I thought it was obvious that the intention was for the house to be whimsical. “Whimsical” is the first word that came to mind upon seeing the design.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 1:12 PM

      Hi Susan,

      I think that the intention IS for it to be fake. In person, it comes off as whimsy. Like they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. And I like that.

      I like anything in this world that gives people joy. ReplyCancel

  • Marcy S. - October 12, 2017 - 12:57 PM

    I recall seeing this home featured in the Traditional Home magazine some years ago. I never forgot that living room and the chintz! The entry hall too. How lucky you are that you got to visit in person and meet the home owners. Congrats on your win!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 1:09 PM

      Thanks so much Marcy.

      I would say over-all, that day was the best one of the trip. We started out at Poundbury, then to Ben, then here and then another lovely place at the end of the day where we had a lovely tea. It was the next to the last day which was also wonderful in a different way.ReplyCancel

  • Jana - October 12, 2017 - 12:32 PM

    Oh Laurel, I’m so glad you won! ‘Twas meant to be.
    The Sykes’ home is just the pure essence of the English manor, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing the goodness with us.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 1:08 PM

      It’s a most extraordinary place; not terribly huge, relatively speaking, but oodles of fun!ReplyCancel

  • Deb - October 12, 2017 - 11:17 AM

    I just wanted to add my happy Conratulations!!!! You deserve it girl:). I know how much time and effort and love you pour into all of your posts. That is why we appreciate and love you so much. Wishing you more of the good things to come your way.

  • Shelley - October 12, 2017 - 11:06 AM

    Congrats on the win! Well deserved! I just love the stripes in the dining room–everywhere but not too much or over the top. Perfect and they make the room feel welcoming and not stuffy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 11:22 AM

      Thanks so much Shelley. Yes, that dining room is a lot of fun!ReplyCancel

  • Susie - October 12, 2017 - 10:28 AM

    Too much statuary and no view of the ocean. Thumbs down. I don’t want a house where you can’t see water.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 11:21 AM

      Phew! You’re in luck Susie. The house and its possessions are not for sale.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - October 12, 2017 - 8:26 AM

    Have been to England many times and seen my share of country houses. The greatest one of all, in my opinion, is Blenheim, but that is a palace. The second greatest is Burghley House, and I spent a whole day there with the owners. The family has had it for 500 years, and Queen Elizabeth I stayed there.
    Dorset is so romantic and picturesque. It’s Thomas Hardy country. I’ve been to Athelhampton (the best gardens), Smedmore, and Lulworth Castle. The owners of Lulworth, the Welds, had us for tea. Lovely people, and with a wonderful sense of humour.
    Anthony Sykes has no hereditary title, and has not been knighted by the queen, so he is not Sir Anthony. But he is still a gentleman.
    Congratulations on your win. Hope you get to go to Milan.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 11:19 AM

      Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks for your good wishes and all of the great information. Mr. Sykes it is! I could’ve sworn that I heard Sir Anthony a few times, but maybe it was something else.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Wozniak - October 12, 2017 - 8:06 AM

    Congratulations, Laurel! I am thrilled you won! I really want you to get that trip to Milan too. 😀 Wow, oh wow, is all I can say about this fantastic home. It is truly amazing. Thank you for all of your slithering and darting around to get these photos for us. So fun!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 11:17 AM

      Yes, the trip to Milan would be great, but we shouldn’t hope for too much. haha!ReplyCancel

  • Alison - October 12, 2017 - 4:51 AM

    So glad you won Laurel. You are the best! Looks like it was a wonderful trip.ReplyCancel

  • joanna pearson - October 12, 2017 - 3:17 AM

    WON-derful ! you won, of course you did, Laurel ! Bravo !!

    A treat-of-a-blog, Mad dogs an Englishman (& woman, in this case ) ! Most definitely!

    The eccentric style reminded me of Nicky Haslam but with bells on.

    Loved the chairs & the round tablecloth in the sitting room with their ribbons & Roses

    fabric, so quintessentially English, & evocative of the 80’s country House style, that I

    am sure is coming back, if it ever went away. ( Try, however, finding some deep bullion

    fringing for an old sofa I am recovering & it is almost impossible.)

    I adore kitchen dressers & plate racks, too, & the ‘photos show shining examples, for

    those of us with lesser means, of things to look out for, for our affordable unfitted


    Yes, my eyes would definitely be dancing in this home, particularly liked the pink walled

    terrace but my heart still belongs to Ben & his lovely husbands home.

    So, what rich pickings you have returned with, from your trip to England & I am sure most

    of us have felt like privileged stowaways who have hitched along for the ride.

    thanks for including us, Laurel, it has been such inspirational fun. Now, where are we

    going next year ?! xxxxxReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 11:15 AM

      Hi Joanna,

      Over-all, I would also take Ben’s and Charlie’s home; particularly if it came with Ben and Charlie! haha!ReplyCancel

  • Janet - October 12, 2017 - 2:36 AM

    Congratulations on the Design Hounds win! Surely, you will also win the Milan trip. It is selfish thinking on my part because I would love to see Milan through your eyes. Viewing your photos and reading your posts from the trip to England have been the next best thing to being there myself. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything you have shared with us. Thank you so much for being so very generous!ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - October 11, 2017 - 11:48 PM

    Congratulations, Laurel! If there is justice in the universe, you will be off to Milan, too, courtesy of the sponsors. It pleases me so to see your talents recognized.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 12, 2017 - 12:02 AM

      Oh that is so kind to say Gaye! I’m very grateful for any good coming my way!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - October 11, 2017 - 10:57 PM

    Laurel, I’m so happy you won! Well deserved! And, thank you for sharing a beautiful post.ReplyCancel

  • Laura Harrie - October 11, 2017 - 10:30 PM

    So many portraits of ancestors! Those make the home so English! Love it. The pictures do the kitchen are so homey!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 11, 2017 - 11:09 PM

      Hi Laura,

      Yes, the portraits of ancestors whether they are yours or not, lol in fabulous gilt frames were in nearly every house we saw.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - October 11, 2017 - 10:21 PM

    The best decorating happens when the owners have the confidence to take their taste and run with it….. a few bucks in your pocket always helps too:):)! Lovely home for so many reasons. I especially liked the fact the house looks like they actually live there as opposed it to being their personal museum. Thanks for posting!ReplyCancel

  • Olivia - October 11, 2017 - 10:08 PM

    Congrats on the win, Laurel! Well deserved!ReplyCancel

  • Christine Anderson - October 11, 2017 - 10:04 PM

    WOW – I cannot imagine such an incredible experience! The rooms are breathtaking! I loved seeing the kitchen, too, with its deep blue-red glossy or lacquered walls. What a view they have, to have that beautiful countryside all around them each day. SIGH. ♥

    Christine in KYReplyCancel

  • Diana Bier - October 11, 2017 - 9:55 PM

    Congratulations, Laurel, you deserve it! Best blog evah!!
    Love seeing the photos of your trip to England–just beautiful!ReplyCancel