After years teaching in English universities, we started a second career in hospitality, first in the Sussex Downs and now in the hilly Parc du Perche,
a landscape as unspoilt as the Sussex Downs must have been in the 1930s.

Roger is a literature specialist with a particular interest in Flaubert, Zola, Proust and Joyce. He also works as a conference interpreter.

Marie-Monique is an historian and has written on demography, the First World War and 20th century cultural history.

Having lived for twenty years in Bloomsbury and seven years in Rodmell, Virginia Woolf’s village, we feel a sympathy for the works and values of the Bloomsbury Group.

Our favourite period: 1870-1939

In terms of style and interior design this period, which includes “La Belle Epoque”, the Great War and the interwar years, is marked in France by great creative variety, from the ‘troubadour’ style to Art Nouveau and then Art Deco. But for all their novelty these styles often reflect a strong attachment to the past, particularly in country houses. This is even more true in England, where the Victorian style with its various strands (neo-gothic, Preraphaelite, Arts and Crafts) remained dominant, and when European Art Deco finally arrived, it often took on a neo-rustic flavour.

La Mouchère, has kept the feel of this period: hardly touched for seventy years, it is a fine example of 19th country house where the intention is to live in greater comfort while maintaining a traditional setting. So during the 1870s the old, porous, floor tiles were replaced by ’encaustic’ or cement tiles, with geometrical and plant motifs, reminiscent of Pugin or William de Morgan. Heating was provided by an Alsatian ceramic stove which is still working in the dining room, and to improve the performance of the fireplaces the Monduit foundry equipped them with cast-iron reflectors and hot air vents.

In the living room, four paintings on wood panels above the doors represent, in a naïve style, the four wonders of St-Cyr-la-Rosière: the Manoir of l’Angenardière, the Priory of Sainte-Gauburge, the village of St-Cyr with its church spire and La Mouchère itself claiming its place beside the other three. These works are not signed but a member of the Monduit family tells us that they were painted by one of their forebears, Monsieur Bodin (around 1840).

During our work on the house, when removing plaster and uncovering beams and floors, we often found graffiti left by masons and carpenters of the past, signing and dating their work (‘finished this floor in June 1807’ or ‘completed in September 1917, year of the Great War’). The barn, bears a date too: 1759.

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932): a source of inspiration

Among this great landscape architect’s main ideas three have helped us at La Mouchère:

  • assessing the grounds: although there are no longer any mixed borders (these will need to be provided later), there are, on the other hand, many centuries-old trees, attractive changes of level, long views to be exploited, water points, low walls and other architectural elements.
  • Bringing indoors and outdoors closer together: we have added 2 new French windows; on the north side, we now have a plain level entrance for visitors , and on the south side the kitchen is at long last connected with the terrace, for meals, apéritifs, etc.
  • excluding vehicles from the terrace and gardens: steps protect the new terrace from traffic and the carpark is set back slightly from the visitors’ entrance.

Hospitality at La Mouchère

Guests now arrive directly at the new entrance on the north side, making it easier to unload luggage and avoiding unnecessary steps.
Each room is individually furnished and arranged ( mostly in Arts and Crafts Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles).
Guests will find a hospitality tray awaiting them with kettle, a choice of infusions, coffee, mineral water and fruit (from the orchard where possible), as well as a hot water bottle and hairdryer.
There is a hospitality cupboard on the landing to make up for any necessities they may have left at home (tooth brushes, etc…),and a stock of slippers, dressing gowns, anoraks, boots, just in case…
The laundry room is available for any last minute ironing or mending.

In the evening, there is an open fire in the lounge, or, if the weather is fine guests are welcome to join the gardeners (i.e. your hosts), for an apéritif around a bonfire in one of the meadows.

Guests short of bedside reading will find a good variety of books in their room and in the library, which reflects your hosts’ interests : literature in English and French, works on art and history, as well as popular culture, film and jazz. There are also books on the local area (the Perche, Maine, Ile de France, cathedrals, festivals, etc) to help you organize your excursions.
If you can’t decide on a book, Roger will happily hold a surgery for you and prescribe some reading.

And a good night’s rest is ensured not just by the silence and tranquility of La Mouchère, but also by the quality of our mattresses (all have individually pocketed springs: you’ll feel the difference).

Let’s talk about food

Breakfast is a special moment in the day, not to be hurried. We like to provide a choice of local bread, freshly heated in the Aga, fresh fruit or our own compotes, butter in a dish, produce from the orchard or the local markets. Our jams (cherry, mirabelle, greengage, pear, fig, quince and redcurrant) are homemade with little added sugar (about 20%). Needless to say anything prepacked is anathema.

For supper (by reservation only) the preference for fresh local produce remains the same, but without making a fetish of regional specialities : living in London and Sussex also taught us to appreciate tastes and spices from further afield. As for our guests’ preferences, we feel that vegetarians sometimes get a raw deal, in England as in France, and try to make sure that this isn’t the case at La Mouchère. Please warn us about allergies or special diets.

In our Table d’hôte we like to include the apéritif and drinks.

Walking and wildlife

As keen walkers we encourage our guests to explore the grounds: there are a number of short walks, along the river to the waterfall, through the woods or in the kitchen garden and orchards. We’ll give you a map showing things worth noticing on your way. See our ‘Things to do’ page.
La Mouchère offers a sanctuary for abundant wildlife: roe deer, hares, foxes, badgers and red squirrels, a wide variety of birds (buzzards, owls, goldfinches, bluetits, woodpeckers…) and unfortunately quite a few moles and snails…

But the most beautiful creature, the Queen of La Mouchère, is our beagle, Carrington, noble and affectionate, with a formidable sense of smell and an impressive appetite.

Dogs welcome

Well trained and sociable dogs are welcome - not just tolerated - at La Mouchère and are provided with their own bathtowel and biscuits on arrival. They can sniff around the grounds and afterwards the ‘dogs’ bathroom’ (an outside bathhouse with two deep sinks, hot water and shower attachment) is available so that they can be brought squeaky clean back into the house. We also ask masters to play their part in keeping their dog under control (on the lead if the voice doesn’t suffice) and picking up after it on the terrace or close to the house.