Soak in the Art and Wonder of Wedmore Place
Go to bed in Williamsburg and wake up in Europe — Greece, England, Italy, France, take your pick.
Spend the night at Wedmore Place, the hotel on the grounds of the Williamsburg Winery, for a unique experience. Each room is distinct, reflective of the varied cultural heritages of the European provinces winery founder Patrick Duffeler visited over the years.
Considerable thought was given to even the most minute details of Wedmore Place, including the name. What’s in the name? Wedmore comes from a ninth-century agreement between King Alfred of Wessex and the Danish leader Guthrum to prevent future military conflicts. The Treaty of Wedmore set up geographical boundaries that led to peace in the area (the Peace of Wedmore).
Wedmore Place opened to guests in 2007, and yes, it’s peaceful here on the grounds of Wessex Hundred.
Walk into the inviting lobby and you’ll instantly feel as if you are stepping into a European estate. It’s cozy sitting on the rustic furniture in front of the open hearth fireplace in the lobby; rest assured your room will evoke a similar warmth. All rooms in the hotel have open hearth fireplaces; there are a total of 31.
“They invite conversation,” Duffeler says, which, of course, can be complemented by wine. In fact, Wedmore Place features a selection of proprietary products such as its own bubbly.
A slice of Europe is behind the mahogany doors that set the tone for your stay before you’re even inside. The doors are a story onto itself. Most hotel doors are steel due to fire code regulations. The Wedmore mahogany doors come from the Orient and meet all fire code standards, but the building inspector refused to approve them initially.
“You’re not going to have permission to operate the hotel with those doors,” he informed Duffeler.
That wasn’t satisfactory for Duffeler, who has crafted many a door himself on the winery grounds.
“I did not know there was such a thing as a Certified Door Consultant (CDC, not to be confused with the Centers for Disease Control),” Duffeler said with a hint of a chuckle. “I learned there are door consultants.”
The consultant confirmed what Duffeler already knew. These were, in fact, fire-resistant doors. Duffeler received an official certificate from the consultant, yet that still didn’t satisfy the inspector.
“They’re not going to work,” he said.
Duffeler returned to the consultant, who demonstrated the doors were fire resistant by putting one through a fire test, providing pictures to the inspector.
Still a no-go, the inspector said.
Duffeler didn’t get the green light until a second door consultant validated the opinion of the first. The inspector relented, insisting each door must be stickered to denote safety.
Of course, the stickers are carefully placed as to not interfere with the rich wood.
When the key turns to reveal Room 1 named Brandenburg, the eye-catcher is your reflection Next to the marble surround of the fireplace is a gold-plated mirror, overwhelming in its size and beauty.
One special engraving in the room features Frederick the Great conversing with Voltaire in Sans Souci, the royal residence in Potsdam. An armoire stenciled in a baroque floral motif is part of the décor. The floors creak, a charming feature. Coupled with the low ceiling, this room like the others feels like the extension of a home instead of part of a hotel.
A peek outside a window, any window in any of the rooms for that matter, reveals the green space of Wessex Hundred.
“Always trees,” Duffeler says.
No two rooms are remotely alike. While Burgundy and Provence are only 300 miles apart in France, each has its own character, and the rooms reflect that from what’s on the walls to the tiles surround some mantles to the dressers and desks, each purposely accessorized.
Marvel at the four-poster bed in the Gascony Room or the period wallpaper in the Normandy Room. The brilliant coral in the Cornwall Room brightens any afternoon. The armoire in the Brittany Room is overwhelming in size and wonderfully constructed.
As for those details, when Duffeler and his wife, Francoise, walk into the Tuscany Room, they instantly spot something amiss.
“This does not belong here,” Patrick says, removing the helmet to return it to its proper place, which would be the Greek Room.
Among the more remarkable characteristics about Wedmore Place is not only does each treasure have a specific place, Patrick and Francoise know what should and shouldn’t be in each. They know how far the desk should be from the wall or if something is a smidgeon off center. It’s very much in character for the two of them to move furniture ever so slightly to achieve the results that make Wedmore Place so distinct.
Each of the three suites in the hotels is lavish. The two-story Venetian Suite, at 1,100 square feet, is the largest. The staircase is grand as are the doors and the furnishings on both floors. It’s Italian elegance that’s opulent yet inviting.
Patrick and Francoise handpicked all the furnishings, antiques, tapestries and accessories that personalize every room. Everything from the color scheme to the character of the rooms holds significance.
The lobby and the hallways also reflect a desire to enhance the uniqueness of Wedmore. On the walls of the upper-level hallway, there is a collection of 24 early XIX century engravings that were acquired at an auction in Provence. It is a collection of images glorifying the new republic successes after the 1789 change in the national institutions.
The engravings were framed and hung on the wall at a small ceremony of the Alliance Française organized with local Consular Officer Nicola Valcour, a friend of the Duffelers.
A second sequence of engravings is scheduled to be added to the upper hallway in late 2021. It consists of a dozen reproductions by the Louvre Museum of the signing of a Peace Agreement between France and Spain.
Patrick points to one specific engraving from a collection of over 50, all from the mid-19th century. “That is from our trip to Wedmore,” he says.
The Duffelers traveled to Western England and stayed at the village of Wedmore to research its history and visit the surrounding area. The library in Wedmore Place, styled after a XIXth Century British Club, contains books and other antiques that encourage lingering and learning.
The hotel offers a “passport” for repeat visitors who want to experience the varied cultures by staying in a different room each time. Is it Europe or is it Williamsburg? It’s hard to tell the difference at Wedmore Place. It is both as Patrick says.