Wednesday 26 October 2011

Palace drawn into Western Australian DNA mystery


Buckingham Palace has been drawn into an international mystery and is endeavouring to validate the authenticity of a 100 year old oak tree growing at Accor Vacation Club's Grand Mercure Basildene Manor in Margaret River WA.

One hundred years ago in 1910 Percy Willmott, his wife Margaret and their three children left Fremantle port for a two month voyage to Percy's homeland England whilst their manor was being built in WA.

During their stay and on a visit to Buckingham Palace, Percy was walking through the manicured grounds when he sighted an acorn that he promptly picked up and popped in his pocket. He imagined this acorn growing into a majestic English oak tree on his Margaret River property, at his Georgian Victorian style Basildene Manor, named after his hometown of Basildon near Reading 

Percy planted the acorn at the front of Basildene Manor hoping to shade their new home, outside their bedroom window. This European sapling, struggled to grow in unforgiving soils and sweltering summers, out of place, amongst the stands of jarrah, karri and gum trees on the 14 acre property. But survive it did. 

Today, the majestic oak tree currently stands 32 metres tall and is still a favourite place for staff and guests to sit under, when visiting the world famous wine growing region 3.5 hours from Perth. The property was classified in 1978 by the National Trust of Australia as a significant heritage property, and listed with the Heritage Council of Western Australia in Sept 1991.

Of course Customs would frown upon such activity today, but photos of the WA tree are being compared to the famous oak tree at Buckingham Palace by head gardener Mark Lane, who is assisting Accor Vacation Club (owners of the manor) to ascertain if the "tall tree tale" is indeed correct, as they are set to celebrate the 100th birthday of the historic Hotel, in early 2012. 

Basildene Manor offers magnificent suites – some in the original homestead, with endearing names such as Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Verdelho

The lush gardens are now very well established, with trees, natives and herb & vegetable gardens, some of these featuring throughout the properties lounges and even make it onto the plates of the well known "Basildene breakfast."

A luxurious lounge and bar from a bygone era is nestled below the majestic sweeping staircase, and modern comforts abound in the Manor House, loved by locals and tourists alike, in a convenient position on the outskirts of Margaret River township, close to all the wineries and tourist attractions.

To enjoy your stay, as if "to the manor born," great rooms are on offer from $279 per room per night (2 people twin share) and include the well known Basildene Breakfast

To book at Basildene Manor please call   08 9757 3140 or visit 

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