Five ladies and a Butler at The White Swan is the story of four days spent at The White Swan in Pickering Yorkshire. Discover all the adventures available, just a stone’s throw from this glorious boutique hotel.
The morning yawns as the slow bright electric stallion creeps out of London … up north we go to find new pastures and new stories to entice, surprise and conjure up feelings of yes on occasion grandeur and yet maintaining that Yorkshire grit we will forage and see the magnificent skies and on occasion sit in the slow back, crow black …. And yes I am indeed a fan of Dylan Thomas but it is not Wales we are going but off to the land of majesty and wizardry as Yorkshire has an amazing depth of film locations and history from Castle Howard where the famous and yes majestical Brideshead Revisited was filmed right through to Harry Potter and yes a touch of sorcery I feel and certainly not forgetting the beautiful seaside town of Whitby famous for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.
My tale, maybe a yarn or a fable, fiction or nonfiction that is for you to decide, a romantic comedy or possibly a murder mystery … fear not a horror unless your sofa is secure …
Our electric stallion curtesy of Virgin Trains… no not a submarine or a sleigh though all travel options can be considered pulls out of what is now a beautiful Kings Cross Station going north by just a nats over two hours, changing at York and then onto a cross country train to Malton where chariots courtesy of The White Swan whisk us into the yonder and as soon as Harry’s wand is waved we are welcomed into the lovely old White Swan hotel in Pickering.
So far, I know you cannot deduce which genre of film we are watching and indeed with all the great sport and country pursuits on offer we could indeed be looking at a historical documentary or possible a film about sporting rivalry.
Either way there is plenty to keep the whole family intrigued and much more besides.
We are indeed a chosen few made up of five ladies and of course The Butler …
Before we arrived on location to decide which genre of film Five ladies and a Butler will be, we head to York to research our characters, rehearse our lines such as “May I ask which way to the Station” and “When is the Wedding” … for fear of running foul with the wardrobe department we head to Moons, a British maker of luxury fabrics for fashion and interiors sourced from their unique Yorkshire Mill. Time for the ladies to shop and for The Butler well to buttle which for all those of you without a Butler, shame on you as to buttle is “ To serve as or perform the duties of a butler”
The owners of The White Swan, a delightful couple that go by the name of Marion and Victor do genuinely make all welcome and you might find the locals playing an integral part as extras in this epic production.
Fear not young gallant man I hear the sound of ales and cognacs, “well its an international production”
The first night …. The Setting is the Banquet….wild boar I hear you Norsemen cry … well in this case Beef Wellington is served as the players start to unravel the clues ….
but whilst splendid wines our poured it is easy to drop out of character and succumb to being a guest or fear not a dreaded journalist …. “be off young man to the dungeon” ….
Well its very lucky that our location manager has situated us in area of great history with a castle, that being Pickering Castle me lord …
Just beyond on yonder … or to you that’s five minutes stroll around the corner ….
and we are indeed just a battle cry away from where The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place which for all those around in September, 1066 will remember was those pesky Viking invaders again but this time it was 1 nil to the English …
Pickering Castle is a Royal Castle owned by the Duchy and perfect for a reinactment or possibly a pop promo with Kate Bush or as an old friend used to call her Kate Shrub ….personally I like the idea of a romantic hair commercial from the 70’s … is she or isn’t she …. Long flowing hair as she runs across the ramparts and across the …..or if you happen to be playing the part of two love struck teenagers let Romeo and Juliet go for a walk as the sun goes down as its very pretty …ahhhhh ….
The Murder Mystery was put on hold for the first night as we all played how to light the fire, “etiquette of a scullery maid might be the next novel” and the Butler stayed stum as all good Butler’s should do ….
With the crew and ever increasing circles of cast heading to bed The White Swan shall keep us all well tucked in and as morning breaks talk is of what is in store for this hallowed lot on day 2 …. but before the director throws his script into the fire let there be scrummy breakfast …. the casting of The White Swan waitresses, am I allowed to say that word any more or is a waiting service representative ….. oooh you cad Michael …… cue Terry Thomas …. well there could be a role for him ….. but the casting was indeed good as they smiled and made all feel very welcome …..
We head out into the town to research our characters and be inspired by the church of St Peter & St Paul whose spire can be seen for miles.
The church contains some of the most complete sets of Medieval wall paintings in Britain, which shouldn’t to be missed.
And food, yes whether a nobleman, a scullery maid or warrior we need feeding and there is a rather sqwiffy, sorry it was the mention of cad that did it, eatery.
And Pickering’s fish and chip shop on Potters Hill is royal as building owned by the Queen .. so there ….
In this part of the world there is much to do so if sightseeing is on the agenda Castle Howard, designed by Vanbrugh is a must. I gather the largest private home in the country, perhaps quite suitable for the annual Gentlemans Butler shindig.
Go straight to the door our ladies cried, not wanting to dirty their bustles or muddy their trains for this is a house of grandeur
and dignity, the setting for the famous productions of Brideshead Revisited which every gushing damsel worth her gold will have watched….
and for those that like a tad of art well does Holbein and Gainsborough
float your boat or wander the beautiful walled garden’s, find out more about their foods for they still have a game keeper, their own cook book, they sell pheasant and their young American lady chef heads their sumptuous cuisine offerings which include some mighty fine cakes and tea which is truly in order if yours servants have been miss behaving.
What do you want to be when you grow up Master Michael, grand papa quizzed … “I want to be a train driver, and maybe I can have my own railway in the garden” … well not quite in the garden but through true smugglers countryside and The Butler carried and buttled as the ladies took their seats on The North Yorkshire Moors Railway which is one of the worlds greatest heritage railway experiences and goes through Goathland which became Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film, so maybe some wizardry will be seen.
Ladies take some poetry to read as the billowing clowds roll by and do make sure your Butler is fully awake and ready to serve…. There is nothing worse than slovenly behaviour from one’s staff when out in public….
As the Butler caught his breath, taking photos as designated points he could only sigh and smile at gods great country and very pretty it is to.
After about an hour and we arrive at the infamous Whitby,
known for the eerie and haunting side of our epic movie.
Wander through the cobbled streets but stay close to The Butler as you climb the steps to Whitby Abbey,
think of the shipwreck scene in Dracula and think of Whitby’s heroine that being Mary Shelley and her creation Frankenstein, but as long as the sun shines you will be advised to smile, breath in the fresh air and possible partake in some fish and chips ….
There is frolicks in the bar my lord, fear not the curtsey is being taught, the locals engaged and maybe confused but all is having a mighty good time with typical Yorkshire spirit and humour …. Ooooo sorry I think this is the sequel …
Certainly the leading lady and all action hero of our epic has to be the dynamic duo that is Marion and Victor from The White Swan who played their roles impeccably and in real life our genuinely lovely and very hospitable and that is the central point I will make which is relevant to our readers which is however long you stay your experience will be real and genuine. This has not been copied and pasted from training manual or had a corporate consultancy stick their noses in, but the people are true and caring and the pursuits on offer are not only diverse but really pretty impressive set amongst some stunning scenery.
It was indeed a fable, a fantasy, a yarn and a mighty good romp ….
I had only ever travelled through Yorkshire before but quite genuinely I had a superb few days and though I cannot guarantee that your movie will end the same way ours did, but I can tell you that the characters, scenery, history and good spirit will create your own wonderful experience as it did for me….
Double rooms cost from £159 B&B or £219 DB&B per night
More …..read own fellow traveller ….
The ancient market town of Pickering in North Yorkshire is steeped in history and the White Swan Inn is in the heart of it. In 1688 William lll introduced a salt tax, which inevitably led to smuggling. There was a well-known trail that leads from the north east coast at Whitby and went through to York. The stagecoach would stop at Pickering en route. The smugglers would hang the salt bags underneath the coach and then hide it at the inn in what is now one of the bedrooms. The Excise Men were not allowed to sneak in at the back but had, by law, to knock on the front door which gave the smugglers time to move the bags to the next door house. The aerial passageway that they used is still there today.
Today The White Swan has 21 newly decorated rooms which are split between Vintage and Superior Vintage which are based in the oldest part of the inn and are all different in character, echoing the rooms used for the lodgings of 16th century coach travellers.
The family owned, dog friendly inn has a thriving, award winning restaurant where everything that can be home-made is, including: bread, ice cream, chutney and jam as well as ketchup, everything else is sourced from local suppliers. The family are great supporters of young talent, their chef, Darren Clemmit started at the hotel in 1987 in the wash up when he was just 14 and still at school, the youngest chef today is 17 and already quite a talent.
For private parties or just to escape and relax there is The Bothy, a converted barn at the back of the inn with a private terrace. This large room with a open fireplace is a great place to put your feet up, play a board game or read a book but can be transformed for a private lunch or dinner, wedding reception, product launch or christening – It is also a popular spot for shooting parties.