The Falcon dates back to 1594, starting out as a coaching inn, and it is somewhat shrouded in mystery.
Owned by Lord and Lady Northampton, little is known about The Falcon before 1960 and there are no documents in Lord Northampton’s family archives which shed any light on how it was used, which in a way just adds to its charm.
From his own recollection, it was a sleepy village public house when he was growing up in Castle Ashby in the 1950s. It was run by Mrs Ann Mercer who leased the inn from his father. Here, Lord Northampton charts its more recent history…
Many visitors who have walked through the doors since we opened, like to reminisce on the former layout of the inn which has been completely reimagined. At that time, there was a small dining room seating 12 people where the restaurant lounge is now, the toilet block was where the gents’ toilets are today, and there was an office where the ladies’ toilets are located near the entrance.
The kitchen and stores which were at the front of the building, have been transformed into an accessible bedroom, a dog-friendly bedroom and a boot room where guests can borrow Hunters wellies.
Then, of course, there is the Cellar Bar which maintains pride of place in the same location as it was over 400 years ago although the steps were altered to prevent accidents – if the walls could talk I’m sure they would have lots to say!
When I took over the lease in the 1980s, I made a few changes, including the tanking of the cellar bar, as it used to flood when the water table rose.
I ran the hotel with a succession of managers until the mid-90s when it was sold on a lease.
When Lady Northampton and I married in 2013, we had no plans to renovate the building and did not have the wherewithal to do so.
However in 2014, we received a share of the proceeds from the sale of an Egyptian statue which had been donated to the Northampton Museum by my great-great-grandfather. This allowed us to start the renovation works in 2016 and our plans for the hotel grew from there.
The refurbishment took four years and was not without its problems being a Grade 2 listed building.
The interiors were designed by Jackie Blakey who had worked with Lady Northampton in the 90’s at British Airways. Guests regularly comment on the tranquil décor and cosy furnishings, and some have taken our surroundings as inspiration for their own homes.
Our 22 bedrooms were individually designed by Jackie with comfortable beds complemented by natural fabrics, textures and features designed so that the nature which surrounds us is reflected within.
For our fine dining restaurant, Eyas, we were fortunate to secure the skills of Russell Bateman, our head chef, who was previously head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Pétrus.
The quality and ingenuity of the dishes which leave Russell’s kitchen is outstanding, as is the provenance of the food. Produce is sustainably sourced, procured locally where possible and often foraged on the estate.
Eyas – is the name given to a nestling bird who hasn’t yet learned to fly. It seemed an apt name for the heart of our Falcon hotel adventure.
The restaurant is known for its fine dining and we were delighted to be awarded Dining Venue of The Year at the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards in 2021.
Our Falcon Family Charter drives us to provide great service and to lead with our hearts. We hope this shows in the interactions we have with our guests and each other.
Our wellbeing and nature events and classes are being developed to offer unique things to do on the Castle Ashby estate – from deer park walks and guided nature tours to yoga and meditation.
The popular open water swimming takes place in one of our lakes, designed by Capability Brown and overlooked by Castle Ashby House. Many of the 9,500 swimmers we have welcomed in the first six months since we opened, speak highly of the positive effects this has had on their physical and mental health.
Opening the Cellar Bar in December 2021 was a key milestone on our journey to welcoming people from our local communities and further afield.
We are fortunate to have so many great teachers, instructors, mentors and staff helping us to create a centre for wellness. and for that we owe a debt of gratitude to our Falcon Family.
Please stay tuned for more developments on our website, through the newsletter or on our social media channels.
Finally, I save the last thank you for our patrons. Without you, we would not be where we are today – so we thank you for your custom and your feedback which has enabled us to grow.