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February

2009

Dillington House

Dillington House

Dil­ling­ton House

dillington-logoDil­ling­ton House is one of the most beau­ti­ful con­fer­ence and train­ing centres in the South West of Eng­land. It is archi­tec­tur­ally breath­tak­ing in a bucolic set­ting of 100 acres of mature park­land on the fringes of Ilmin­ster in Somer­set. Oper­ated by Somer­set County Coun­cil since 1949, it is a calm and relax­ing back­drop for some ser­i­ous think­ing, stra­tegic plan­ning or team bonding.

There has been a house on this site for more than a thou­sand years and the present grade II lis­ted house and mews dates, in part, from Tudor times. The house was acquired through mar­riage by Lord North, Prime Min­is­ter to King George III. After his death in 1792, Dil­ling­ton was even­tu­ally sold to John Han­ning, whose des­cend­ants still farm the sur­round­ing estate.  Archi­tec­tur­ally speak­ing the house, with clear Eliza­bethan, late Geor­gian and early Vic­torian Gothic influ­ences, has emerged as a har­mo­ni­ous set­ting for its present purposes.

Today Dil­ling­ton House plays host to its own pro­gramme of con­certs and pub­lic lec­tures, whilst also offer­ing res­id­en­tial courses in a wide vari­ety of sub­jects. It caters for com­pan­ies or private groups wish­ing to run their own train­ing ses­sions or con­fer­ences and is a pop­u­lar venue in the area for wed­dings. The latest addi­tion is The Hyde, a res­id­en­tial arts stu­dio which now gives the com­plex 11 con­fer­ence rooms and 40 bed­rooms, cater­ing for func­tions from 2 to 160 people, who have just one thing in com­mon – a need to sus­tain the inner man.

Serving up to 160 cov­ers per day is an integ­ral part of the Dil­ling­ton pro­pos­i­tion. In charge of cater­ing and a key mem­ber of the man­age­ment team is George Ceely, recruited 18 months ago for his vast exper­i­ence as cater­ing man­ager at Royal Naval Air Sta­tion, Yeovilton, where he was unfazed by serving a broad spec­trum of diners, from roy­alty to ‘squad­dies’. He describes the cuisine as whole­some home cook­ing with the emphasis on regional sup­pli­ers. Given notice, the menu can be themed to match indi­vidual groups’ interests. The proven­ance of all meat used here is well doc­u­mented by the local butcher in Ilmin­ster. Journ­al­ist and broad­caster, Rosie Boy­cott, sup­plies Dil­ling­ton House with salad, veget­ables, fruit and 650 eggs a week – and that incurs nil food miles, since her small­hold­ing is right next door!

Café du Monde has been sup­ply­ing Dil­ling­ton for 10 years with all its cof­fee and cof­fee equip­ment. Says House Man­ager, Loraine New­combe: “Cof­fee is the first thing del­eg­ates want when they exit their sem­inars. So it has to be good. But more than that, we rely on our cof­fee sup­plier to advise us on the cor­rect type of cof­fee ser­vice for dif­fer­ent occa­sions. It is our good for­tune to have met Café du Monde, which knows its busi­ness back­wards. I recom­mend them without reservation”.

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