Glorious present. Glorious Past
Elegant, elaborate and linked to a pair of trend-setting fashionistas, Donnington has a fabulously rich history. The estate’s been home to a Regency socialite, a luxury-loving heiress and Japanese investors. Their stories are intertwined with the Donnington you see today.
It began back in 1763 when wealthy historian James Pettit Andrews asked amateur architect John Chute to build a mansion in “Strawberry Hill Gothic” style. This type of mock Gothic architecture was named after the most famous building of its style: Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham. That building was the brainchild of Andrews’ friend, Horace Walpole, a writer of gothic novels - dark and dramatic forerunners of classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein.
The next owner, come 1783, was William Brummell, former Private Secretary to Prime Minister, Lord North. Brummell expanded and landscaped the 850 acre-estate. But it was his son, George, who’s much better known. Dubbed ”Beau” Brummell, he became a Regency style icon who wowed wealthy society. Beau created a revolutionary impact on mens fashion - even introducing the suit and neck tie to menswear. Donngton’s superb eatery, Beau’s Restaurant, is named after him.
“No perfumes, but very fine linen, plenty of it, and country washing.”
Beau Brummel, Donnington resident and Regency dandy
A Leading Lady
After World War II, Donnington was sold to Winston Churchill’s cousin, the Hon. Reginald Fellowes. But it’s his wife, Daisy Fellowes (1890-1962) who’s best remembered. A woman of extravagant tastes, luxury-loving Daisy was heiress to the Singer sewing machine empire and was the most fashionable lady of her time - the designer Schiaparelli invented the colour Shocking Pink just for her. Daisy's little cottage retreat can still be seen in the Donnington Grove grounds.
“She even wore jewellery with her beach suits”
Society photographer Cecil Beaton on Daisy Fellowes
A World-Class Golf Course
Another gear change in Donnington’s past came in 1991, when the estate was bought by Shi-tenoji International. The Japanese buyers built the estate’s wonderfully tranquil temple area and ornamental gardens. They also commissioned Welsh Ryder Cup player and legendary golf architect Dave Thomas to develop the estate’s world-class, 18 hole golf course.
Berkshire’s Best Country House Hotel
In 2005 the Donnington Grove estate was bought by the current owners - people who have a passion for delivering superb and unstuffy personalised service. Owners who’re determined to celebrate the estate’s rich past and preserve the building’s quirky features. They love sharing the Donnington magic and welcoming guests to the delightful estate you see today.