The gardens rolling down to the lake past some very special trees and the ruins of three earlier Temple Houses – medieval, Tudor, Jacobean – announce rich history. The present house, built in 1864 by the ‘Chinaman’ ancestor (he made fortunes out east), reveals grandeurs galore in the most welcoming family atmosphere you can imagine, aristocratic relations gazing down on the monumental hall, tall morning-room windows sporting gorgeous pink velvet against cream furnishings. After that echoing hall where a hundred could waltz, the ‘Half-Acre’ bedroom confirms the scale: 50 more could shimmy among the antique beds. Other rooms – some have had the Helena touch – exude serenity; bathrooms have been revamped and retiled. Roderick and Helena, natural, unpretentious people, full of enthusiasm for house, farm and estate wear their treasures lightly. The 1,200 acres are shared with sheep and the lake is full of pike; boats and kit are for borrowing, so wander where you will. Meet fellow guests over drinks or dinner – or bring your own house party.