Mark and Emma Hewlett’s peaceful and relaxing late Georgian country house is set in seven acres of Heritage Gardens, including formal walled gardens. The house is elegantly and comfortably furnished, with a drawing room overlooking the Italian Loggia, an honesty library bar, and an elegant dining room - a lovely place to be based when viisting the sunny South East.
The individually-designed and immaculately maintained bedrooms command lovely views over the gardens and towards the estuary beyond. These include a large Superior double room, The Peacock Room, which has two double beds and gives guests the opportunity to stay on the ground floor. In an adjoining coach house there are some newer rooms and self-catering suites, with some offering a more contemporary ambience.
Mark and Emma have recently completed an impressive programme of improvements to the property - the range of amenities offered is unusual for a country house, and includes croquet, a tennis court and an indoor swimming pool, plus a gym and aromatherapy treatment rooms.
Dinner for guests is served at separate tables in the lovely Peacock Dining Room; although mainly for residents, non-residents are welcome by reservation when there is room. A seasonal Table d'Hote menu is offered and a lot of TLC goes into the cooking. Mainly organic food is used, with vegetables and salads coming from the Kilmokea gardens and a high percentage of other ingredients supplied by other local producers.To accompany, an unusually extensive wine list includes some real treats.
The seven acres of heritage gardens have also been fully restored with the additions of wooden sculptures, a Viking settlement and Norman Motte to depict the history of Kilmokea - and a Fairy Village in the trees. There is also a large organic vegetable garden, which is of special interest to keen cooks; it is planted in the traditional potager design and supplies fresh seasonal produce to the kitchen.
Mark and Emma offer either self-guided visits to the gardens with a complimentary introductory informative short talk, or fully guided tours of the gardens and their history. In the Walled Garden, the large Conservatory Café caters for Garden visitors. It can accommodate up to 40 guests at one sitting and, when there are larger numbers, they are divided into two groups for lunch or teas. (The drive entrance to the gardens was recently widened to accommodate buses.
A detailed history of Kilmokea is available to visitors and it is a perfect example of the kind of place that inspired Failte Ireland to develop the concept of ‘Ireland's Ancient East’. The house was built as a rectory in 1794, but the history of the property is far older - it is located within the ancient ramparts of a most historically important earthwork from ancient times, and Kilmokea is the first place that is mentioned in Irish history.