It might have been in the same family for more than three centuries, but Mount Ephraim has seen many incarnations.

The manor house (late-Victorian Grade II listed) itself was originally built in 1695, but then rebuilt in 1878 and then extended in 1913, all for the Dawes family.

The gardens (all ten acres!) were first laid out in the early 20th century by Willie Dawes and wife Jeanie, after he inherited from his father Sir Edwyn, who built the house.

Though neglected and damaged during the war years when the house was requisitioned, Bill Dawes, together with his wife Mary, restored the gardens in the 1950s.

Great British Life: Mount EphraimMount Ephraim (Image: Liz Gregg)

Today Mount Ephraim is more than a family home. It’s a hugely popular wedding venue. It’s a luxurious B&B. You can rent out the self-catering Garden Wing of the house (it sleeps 12 and has not only the most stunning of kitchens but also a full-sized snooker table!). The West Wing Tea Room serves cream teas, light lunches, and afternoon teas. The grounds include the Rock Garden (established in 1910) the Arboretum (added in 1995), the Miz Maze (planted in 2004) the topiary and herbaceous border (from 1910!)

And new for 2024 has been the addition of glamping pods, nestled deep in the grounds.

We were fortunate enough to be among the first to try out the pods.

Great British Life: Mount Ephraim Glamping PodsMount Ephraim Glamping Pods (Image: Liz Gregg)

Created by Lucy (her brother Will Dawes is in charge of the main house and gardens, under the still keen eye of their parents Sandys and wife Lesley) they offer a real escape from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.

Situated on the edge of the family’s fruit farm (did I mention the cherry orchard? There’s about 50 acres of cherries grown at Mount Ephraim!) you get to the pods (two at the moment, though there are plans for a couple more before too long) via a bumpy farm track that takes you past the gardens.

The pods are as chic as they are cosy. Perfect for two (though a couple of little ones could certainly fit), both feature a comfy double bed plus a sofa bed, a fully equipped kitchen and modern bathroom (yes, there’s a flushing loo and hot shower!)

Great British Life: Mount Ephraim Glamping PodsMount Ephraim Glamping Pods (Image: Liz Gregg)Great British Life: Mount Ephraim Glamping PodsMount Ephraim Glamping Pods (Image: Liz Gregg)

The Discovery pod (where I stayed with the husband and our seven-year-old lad) is furnished with navy blue and burnt orange colours, the Gala pod with teal and green tones.

Both pods are well heated and insulated meaning winter stays are just as fabulous as summer visits. And both have a private decking area with seating overlooking the farm and an outdoor firepit and hammock for alfresco living. The rain held off long enough for us to toast marshmallows (thoughtfully left in our welcome basket!) and spot stars.

One of the undeniable delights of booking a stay at the pods is the fact you get unlimited access to the glorious gardens during daylight hours.

Pod guests need simply open a latched wooden gate to find themselves wandering past the lake. Fed by springs and by a stream from the Blean hills it carries a variety of coarse fish. Dug by hand in 1912 by unemployed Welsh miners, we happily watch a family of ducks waddling and splashing around. From there we wandered through the rock garden, with its series of pools ornamented with a Japanese stone bridge and lanterns. When we visited the grounds were a riot of crocuses and daffodils just opening, but the spring bulbs will be followed by flowering cherries, dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas. We also couldn’t miss checking out the topiary, with its miscellany of birds, animals and First World War memorabilia sat alongside a traditional herbaceous border.

Great British Life: Mount Ephraim gardensMount Ephraim gardens (Image: Liz Gregg)Great British Life: Mount Ephraim tennis courtMount Ephraim tennis court (Image: Liz Gregg)

Pod guests are also welcome to make the most of the family’s tennis court. And I can confirm, despite being continually out played by the boys, there’s something rather marvellous about having a knockabout in the shadow of such an impressive manor.

Staycation demand is showing no sign of slowing anytime soon. In 2023, the share of Britons taking a domestic summer holiday, or 'staycation', increased by 50 percent compared to the previous year. Some 63 percent of the respondents to the Statista survey planned a staycation in 2023, whereas about 42 percent of Britons did the same in 2022.

Which means we’re all looking for something just a little special, something a bit out of the ordinary. And Mount Ephraim’s glamping pods are exactly that. Another example it seems of the Dawes family managing to keep Mount Ephraim’s charm intact, while ever evolving to survive in a new era.

We’ll certainly be back…

Mount Ephraim Gardens, Staplestreet Road, Hernhill, Faversham, Kent, ME13 9TX

Good to know:

To book email at or call 07899 877206.

Prices start at £100 in winter for one night mid week or £130 on a weekend based on 2 guests. From Easter 2024 they increase to £130 mid week and £150 on a weekend with a minimum 2 night stay.