Ryehill Country Cottages

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

About Ryehill Country Cottages

Maggie and Mike

We are Maggie Marsh and Mike Widdowson and we first moved to Ryehills in the summer of 1988 when we bought the old farmhouse and redundant farm buildings.

At that time Mike was working in international banking in London while Maggie was working as a supply teacher and had recently completed a cookery course. Having enjoyed a number of holidays in self catering cottages with our children we were interested in establishing a cottage rental business ourselves. After a two year search for a suitable property to convert we were on the verge of giving up when we found Ryehills Farm, just seven miles from where we were then living, with a courtyard of barns that seemed to be ideal for our purpose.

Getting the project off the ground was not easy however we persevered and eventually, with the help of Daventry District Council and an excellent architect and builder, we were able to convert the buildings into 5 cottages and a laundry and games room (now The Studio). By Easter 1990 we were ready to start our self-catering cottage business. Our first customers came from Saudi Arabia; we couldn't believe that a family from so far away had managed to find us and that they actually wanted to stay with us. Despite a few periods when the cottages were all in darkness in the first winter months we have gone from strength to strength and we frequently have to turn people away.

In our first years we ran a smallholding, partly for our own benefit in a drive to become more self sufficient and to give our children a taste of 'the good life' and partly to encourage families with small children to come and stay on a 'farm'. Mike retired from working in London in the mid 1990s and it was at that time we decided to convert our last redundant farm building into a restaurant and we opened Ryehills Country Restaurant in 1996.

After five very successful and enjoyable years preparing the food and running the restaurant we had become very tired and, when we were needed to support elderly family in Cheshire, we closed the restaurant and sold the main farmhouse before moving to Cheshire in 2002. The restaurant building was let as offices for five and a half years and the cottages were cared for by a housekeeper for two years. We returned to Ryehills in 2004 to live in Cherry Tree Cottage and then Bradwall Cottage while the offices were converted into Ryehills Barn which is now our family home. In 2008 the paddock in front of the Barn, and behind Eaton, Bradwall and Cherry Tree cottages, was made into a formal garden and we are thrilled at the variety of wildlife our bog gardens, stream and ponds manage to attract and at the many different vegetables and fruits we can grow. In 2012 we gained permission to add an extension to our home and work started in 2013. This is now completed and we are delighted with our L shaped barn which blends well with the other buildings and provides us with more ground floor space which is very useful as our family continues to expand.

Since first moving to Ryehills our four children, who were then all at school, have moved away to enjoy their own family lives and careers. We now have nine grand children - 5 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. Our eldest son lives in Perth, Australia and our middle son in Singapore; our daughter (our eldest child) and her family live at Studley near to Stratford upon Avon and our youngest son and his family recently relocated to Northamptonshire from Cheshire much to our delight. Oli and Danielle decided to buy one of our cottages (Eaton) and to extend it into what was formerly The Studio so now we have two granddaughters living next door to us! We travel to Perth and Singapore as often as possible to visit our children and grandchildren. Our grandchildren have a variety of interesting names - our granddaughters are Mackenzie, Freya, Millie and Scarlett and our grandsons are Arthur, Oscar, Albert, Cooper and Ralph.

We enjoy what we do. We have visitors from all over the world as well as from the United Kingdom and continue to see former guests as well as their friends and family who have been encouraged by them to visit Northamptonshire and stay with us. We meet such lovely people, and have made many good friends, and like to think, that for those searching for solace and peace, perhaps to escape from their problems for a while, we provide a sanctuary. Our life has been enriched by meeting some very extraordinary people leading extraordinary lives. Some guests have stayed for a few days and others for months. Some families return every year and others have decided to settle in the area. The choice is yours!

We always strive to give our best service and to make our guests welcome and comfortable and have updated the cottages regularly nearly 30 years, maintaining our four star standard since we first opened for business in 1990. Although we respect the privacy of our guests when help is needed we are normally on hand to assist or we can be reached easily by telephone or email for advice.

Why not take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the tranquility of middle England at Ryehill Country Cottages?

Approach to Ryehill Country Cottages