Escape to the country: A secret retreat in rural Dorset

Fresh air. Local food. Middle of nowhere. A weekend in the country is the best way to switch off. Add to the mix some massages, treatments, long walks and home cooking to treat yourself to a complete rejuvenation of the senses. If you've been stuck in the city for too long, we've discovered a retreat in the Dorset countryside which gives you the perfect excuse for escaping.

Middle Piccadilly is a small family-owned resort specialising in unique spiritual healing treatments and home-cooked vegetarian food. These aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but after a weekend at the resort, you may find it hard to think of a better way to relax.

The retreat was started in 1986 by wife and husband Eliana and Gerry Harvey, who had a plan to transform their 17th-century thatched farmhouse into a healthy and holistic healing centre. An extension and conversion of the existing farm outhouses created a number of guest rooms, which range from basic to luxury in a modern-country aesthetic. The site is now run by their eldest son, Dominic, and his wife Lisa, who continue to offer natural health treatments - including Shamanic Healing - as well as a menu of home-cooked food.

Louise Armchair | Double Bookcase with Ladder | Lilacs by Pierre Joseph Redoute Print


While the guest rooms are furnished with simple, comfortable and modern décor, in the kitchen, where the meals are served at a shared country farmhouse table, small décor details reveal the unique and personal history of the site. The wooden countertops, the large timber door and the surfaces’ carved features were handmade by a friend of the retreat’s original owners. With no previous experience in kitchen design, the counters are shorter than standard measurements, deigned to suit the owners for whom the kitchen was originally made. The internal and external stained glass windows of the kitchen were reclaimed from a local site.

The retreat is based a little outside the town of Sherborne in Dorset. This quaint cobbled market town of under 10,000 people feels like it has changed little for a century. With a grand Abbey at its centre, the surrounding medieval and Georgian buildings upkeep a uniform appearance, built with the distinctive local ochre ham stone. At the top of the hill sits Sherborne Castle, still inhabited by the Digby family, and in the centre of town are two of the oldest schools in the UK.

But one of the best features of Sherborne is its surroundings. The road that leads from the town to Middle Piccadilly retreat is an appropriately quiet hedge-lined winding lane. In the evening, stars fill the sky and the night is perfectly quiet.

Three things should characterise the perfect country retreat: technology detox, clean air, silence. The list of treatments available at Middle Piccadilly is long, from full body massages to healing sessions, but one of the best things on offer to do is a long walk through the country, beginning at the appropriately named Peaceful Lane and ending with a drink at the country pub down the road. Returning from your walk to find a hearty, healthy, home-cooked meal makes this little escape somewhere we couldn’t keep secret about.

Hare Cushion | Geo Throw | Seagrass Armchair

Book your trip to Middle Piccadilly, and create a relaxed country interior in your own home.

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Annabel Sheen

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