Places to stay, eat and shop in Marlow
PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:30 19 June 2014
You'll really enjoy this lovely Thameside town with its delightful shops, eateries and hotels which is well worth a visit this month, says Katy Eachus
One of England’s most desirable towns, Marlow grew up as a river crossing and owes much of its fame to its position on the Thames. Its landmark 19th century suspension bridge was designed by William Tierney Clark and acted as a prototype for the bridge that connects Buda with Pest in Hungary. Well-preserved Georgian buildings, the riverside Higginson Park, excellent restaurants and boutique shops all contribute to Marlow’s character, which residents are determined to preserve.
In the past Marlow was famous for its lace-making industry. You can learn more about this and even try your hand at lace-making on 18 May, 1 June and 22 June 22nd at Marlow Museum (opposite the main entrance to Court Garden leisure centre in Pound Lane.)
Famous former residents include the Shelleys who lived in West Street in 1816-17, during which time Mary Shelley completed Frankenstein. Jerome K Jerome wrote part of Three Men In a Boat while staying at The Crown Hotel in Market Square, now the Steamer Trading Cook Shop. TS Elliot lived in West Street during the First World War.
Court Garden House in Higginson Park was designed by nerve specialist Dr Battie. According to local folklore, he forgot to include a staircase first time round. It was either for this or for his work with mental health patients that the term ‘batty’ became established to express eccentricity.
Today the town also has its fair share of notable residents including Spooks actor Peter Firth, TV presenter and naturalist Steve Backshall, and singer Robbie Williams owns a house in nearby Bisham. There is a statue in the park of Olympic gold medallist rower and Marlow Bottom resident Sir Steve Redgrave.
Visit the town on 14 and 15 June to enjoy the Marlow Town Regatta and Festival in Higginson Park with two days of rowing, music, picnics on the grass and dragon boating. Come in July to witness the ancient ceremony of Royal Swan Upping when the Queen’s Swan Marker completes the annual census of the swan population on the Thames. In summer months you can also enjoy a scenic walk along The Thames Path to the pretty village of Cookham or take a boat cruise up and down the Thames.
There’s plenty to do in the surrounding area too. Clivedon House, once home of Nancy Astor and famous as the site of the Profumo scandal has beautiful gardens that now belong to the National Trust. The mansion is run as a hotel but guided tours are available on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. You can also visit the historic Hell Fire caves in West Wycombe, while young children will love Odds Farm Park.
Susie Watson Designs Marlow is situated in the Old Brewery House on Marlow High Street, a former art gallery. The listed Georgian building is an inspiring space that showcases how Susie’s beautiful handmade products can be combined with her growing interiors collection to create, elegant and enchanting interior design for the home. On the ground floor, her handmade home collection includes handmade pottery, cushions, furniture and hand-blown glass. The interiors collection includes high quality paints in twelve gorgeous, subtle colours, hand-painted tiles and a wonderful new wallpaper collection, designed to complement the fabrics and home collection. Upstairs the fabric showroom offers an extensive range of wonderfully thick cottons, hand-printed linens and a bespoke curtain and blind making service and visit the bedroom and nursery showroom for hand embroidered quilts, bed linen, handmade furniture much more besides. Ask the team about the personalised Wedding List service, to create a list full of beautiful, useful gifts.
Tel: 01672 521256 www.susiewatsondesigns.co.uk
For inspiration and specialist advice visit the stone experts at Mandarin. Stone in West Street. The showroom offers an unparalleled collection of limestone,
marble, slate, travertine, sandstone in various formats including tiles, mosaics, stone basins, baths and outdoor paving. An in-house fabrication service allows stone to be worked to specific requirements to create bespoke finishes such as pool surrounds, vanity tops and staircases.
Having more recently launched an exciting range of porcelain and decorative and glazed tiles, the portfolio offers true inspiration for homeowners and designers alike. The Marlow showroom displays the very latest products in the collection, together with an idyllic 200m2 garden area showcasing their outdoor stones. Shown is Dijon Tumbled Limestone Flooring random length format £58.80 per sqm
Tel: 01628 485015 www.mandarinstone.com
The Children’s Shoe Company in Oxford Road is fast developing a reputation for offering a great selection of children’s shoes at affordable prices. Opened a year ago by two local mums, Sarah Cooper and Lisa Parkinson, excellent customer service is at the heart of the business. The shop strives to ensure the best-fitting shoes and you are assured of a friendly welcome by the fully-trained team. Quality European brands such as Petasil, Primigi, Ricosta and Birkenstock cater for every occasion, from casual shoes to school shoes – and are available from a tiny UK size 2 to adult size 7. Dancewear and swimwear are also stocked – and there is even a play area to keep little shoppers entertained.
Tel: 01628 290212 www.thechildrensshoecompany.co.uk
Made with love
Local business Gather & Hunt sells luxury, artisan foods and is best known for gorgeous gift hampers which can be made up to suit any occasion. Owner Martina Hunt opened the shop in 2012 but has decided to take the business solely online to reach a wider market. Selling great food by small craft producers around Britain and Ireland, she sources from local beekeepers, jam makers, cheese makers, beef farmers, fish smokers and ice cream makers. “The products are very carefully selected on the basis that they must taste delicious and be made by someone who cares about what they are doing,” she says. “I believe people want to reconnect with their food and are interested in the person behind the product.” Last year she received an email from a man on an oil rig who wanted to arrange a hamper for Christmas with his family when he came home. A No Hassle Supper hamper was ordered for a new mum in New York by some of her colleagues. Another order came from a woman in Florida for her grandmother’s 80th birthday. The customer thanked Martina for “sharing love and jam across a continent.” So if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift or a summer picnic, take a look at the tempting foods on offer on their website.
Hugely popular with Marlow children, Beehive Treats is a traditional sweet shop in Spittal Street, run by local mum Lisa Arnold who took over in January last year. Lisa stocks sweets and chocolate to suit all tastes and budgets including hard-to-find old favourites displayed in nostalgic jars, and also sells fine chocolate, great gifts and novelties. You can have a bespoke gift made up from your choice of sweets and chocolates – an ideal present idea for loved ones, the office or teachers. For parties or weddings you can order favours or gifts labelled to your specification. Amongst the range you will find dairy and gluten-free products as well as sugar-free and vegetarian sweets.
Tel: 01628 475154 www.beehivetreats.com
Mark Taylor Design creates amazing looking kitchens, bedrooms and living spaces that combine aesthetics with functionality. Mark has over 30 years’ interior and furniture design and manufacturing experience. His team of design engineers and his affiliates, who include specialist craftsmen, interior designers, garden designers, plumbers, fitters, joiners, and painters can make any transformation, domestic or business, seamless and stress free. The complete package is provided, from space management and design through the cabinet-making process to the final installation. Take a look at MTD’s work on the website and call for a chat or to make an appointment.
Tel: 01628 486707 www.marktaylordesign.co.uk
With many new brands and the calendar full of events, the team at Swish Boutique is going to have a very busy summer. One of the highlights of the season is the introduction of new brands, including Canadian bestselling brands FDJ jeans, and Joseph Ribkoff and Swish’s own knitwear range Swish Collection. Other additions include Yest – quirky daywear from Denmark, Potis &Verso – feminine dresses from Poland and Laskara – a fantastic range of summer hand bags from Greece. The choice of style and colour at Swish is varied and designed to cater for many, so there is something for everyone. Whether you’re after a jersey day dress, a mother of the bride outfit or linen tunic, Swish can help. Very soon customers will be able to purchase online and register to receive the latest news, events and invitations.
Tel 01628 476467 www.swishboutique.co.uk
More than just a showcase for beautiful clothes, Scarlett Monroe offers to help customers choose a look that works best for them. Friendly, well-informed staff provide a shopping experience to make customers say ‘it’s just what I’m looking for’ and also ‘I never thought I’d look good in that.’ They are also happy to let you just browse if you prefer. Regular events at the store help you understand what clothes work best for your shape and they can also run individual sessions. Brands include Adventures des Toiles, Elisa Cavaletti, Lauren Vidal, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, Oneseason and Indi and Cole.
Tel: 01628 488661 www.scarlettmonroe.com
For relaxed glamour, head for Mint Velvet where personal style advisers can help you create your own signature look. The collection combines beautiful textures with the season’s key looks, translated into effortlessly, wearable and co-ordinated pieces.
The Limited Edition Pearl Biker Jacket shown here is crafted from buttery soft leather and features an asymmetric design and stitching detailing with bronze zips. Price £229
Tel: 01628 471470 www.mintvelvet.co.uk
WHERE TO EAT AND STAY
On 31 March the Macdonalds Compleat Angler celebrated the opening of its newly refurbished Riverside Restaurant and Walton Cocktail Bar, marking the completion of its substantial refurbishment programme.
Rated one of the top hotels in England with four coveted AA red stars, Macdonald Compleat Angler is part of The Macdonald Hotels’ Signature Collection and enjoys a spectacular position on The Thames. Dating back to the 17th century, the hotel takes its name from Isaak Walton’s world-famous book on angling. Most of the 64 rooms and suites have lovely river views while others are within sight and sound of cascading water over Marlow Weir.
Gaius Wyncoll, General Manager at Macdonald Compleat Angler says, “As a group, we continually aim to enhance our product and services to meet the ever-changing needs of our guests and this exciting redevelopment will ensure we continue to do this. It also represents another significant milestone in our history”.
Tel: 0844 879 9128, www.MacdonaldHotels.co.uk/CompleatAngler
The only UK pub to be awarded two stars in the Michelin guide, The Hand & Flowers was opened by Proper Pub Food chef Tom Kerridge and his sculptor wife Beth in March 2005. The original idea was to open a business where Tom and Beth would like to go on their days off: an informal space but with no compromise on quality of food. Tom’s menu combines unpretentious modern British flavours as well as rustic French dishes on a menu which features the best available seasonal ingredients.
Overnight accommodation is available in four stunning cottage suites just yards from the pub. They are sumptuously furnished with huge beds, vast baths, hot tubs and rain showers. All have flat screen TV, pre-order mini bar, espresso machine, hand-made Damian Allsop chocolates, extra large robes and bath sheets.
Tel: 01628 482277 www.thehandandflowers.co.uk
Danesfield House is a magnificent country mansion featuring castle-like turrets, tall chimney pots and a clock tower. It boasts fine dining, an award-winning spa, swimming pool, ornamental gardens, tennis courts, fully-equipped gymnasium, putting green and even a licensed helicopter pad.
The 62 spacious bedrooms and sumptuous suites are decorated in a luxurious classic country house style with four poster beds, tapestries, oil paintings and chandeliers as well as flat screen TVs and en-suite bathrooms with Aromatherapy Associates toiletries and soft bathrobes. The opulent Tower Suite within the clock tower is spread over three floors.
Meeting and banqueting spaces, make the estate perfect for a corporate event or a lavish wedding. The pièce de résistance is the Parisian style Versailles suite, a pastel pink ballroom with cut glass chandeliers, high ceilings and large gilded gold mirrors.
Rooms start from £164 for a standard double and £354 for a suite inclusive of breakfast and VAT.
Tel: 01628 891010 or visit www.danesfieldhouse.co.uk
Giggling Squid, which opened in February, serves fresh, rustic Thai food in a relaxed environment, offering startling flavours and amazing colours and textures. Everything is cooked from scratch. Where practical, ingredients are sourced locally. For lunchtime, the tasting ‘sets’’ - or Thai tapas – are an excellent way to try lots of different dishes in one go. Expect to pay around £10 per head for lunch and £20-£25 with drinks in the evening.
Tel: 01628 483047 www.gigglingsquid.com