Food, catering and special diets

Menus and food policy

Menus are worked out individually each week for the guests in residence
Here are some of the key principles and practical considerations we work to as we create a menu. These apply to catered groups and our own programme events (as well as stocked larders as applicable).

  • Providing a healthy nutritious diet
  • Tasty, appetising and interesting recipes
  • Using seasonal produce
  • Minimising waste
  • Accommodating special diets
  • Using produce grown in our own garden and greenhouse (runner beans, tomatoes, soft fruit, apples, plums, onions, courgettes, pumpkins, salad leaves, cucumbers and melons)
  • Fair Trade tea and coffee
  • We bake most of our own bread
  • We make almost all our own preserves – chutneys, jams, marmalades (often with our own produce)
  • We bake most of our own cakes, slices, tray bakes and scones
  • We rear our own lamb and mutton
  • We source as much as we reasonably can from local producers and suppliers (Oinkers Farm shop for Devon beef and pork, venison and game from local estates, beef from local farmers, milk from Dunns Dairy, whole chickens from Creedy Carver). We cook from scratch using raw and natural ingredients as you would in your own kitchen. (We’re not using the convenience catering packs and mixes that you’re probably getting elsewhere without knowing it!) 

The recipes we use are available to buy in our shop if you want to recreate them at home. Some of our fabulous house specialities are pot roast venison in red wine, quince tart, parsnip and apple or spiced pumpkin soup, classic roast Sheldon lamb, apple butterscotch pie, raspberry chiffle and our famous chocolate sponge pudding.

Special diets

Please read this section carefully before you put in a special diet request

  • Please be clear whether you have an allergy or an intolerance and please tell us if you carry an “epi pen” or similar. 
  • We home cook good quality food without excessive sugar, fat or salt. If you are simply looking to eat healthily a regular Sheldon diet will be fine (maybe smaller portions of pudding if you're watching your weight). Fresh fruit is always available as an alternative and does not need to be ordered in advance.
  • For special diets that you specifically need we are very experienced and pleased to provide as long as we have the necessary information at least 2 weeks before your visit. Sheldon does not have local shops so we have to plan ahead. If requests are made at shorter notice we ask you to contribute £5/person/day.  
  • If we cook something for you to accommodate a special diet we would appreciate you not rejecting your diet in favour of the main dish which happens to look appealing that day (mmm, yes it has been known ...)
  • If you need a particular branded product such as a specialist bread, drink or cereal, please bring it with you. 

Standard special diets 

please use the names of one or more of these if at all possible as this helps us simplify and clarify special diet requests.

Vegetarian (strict)

No meat or fish of any kind and no animal derivatives like gelatin

Vegetarian + fish

No meat or chicken but yes to fish and shellfish and not strict about derivatives

Dairy free - allergic/strict

You strictly eat no dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter). You need a margarine with no milk solids, and no trace of dairy products as cooking ingredients. We provide soya alternatives.

Dairy free - relaxed

You prefer to avoid milk and milk products, but are okay to have small amounts of these as a cooking ingredient.

Gluten free - allergic/coeliac

You strictly avoid all gluten in the forms of wheat, barley, oats, rye and as an additive

Wheat intolerant

You prefer alternatives to bulk items like bread and pasta but are okay with small amounts as a cooking ingredient. 

Low sugar - strict/diabetic

You only eat very minimal amounts of refined sugars as found in cereals, flavoured yogurts, snacks, chutneys, puddings, spreads etc. Porridge is available on request. (If you are just being careful with calories then please just ask for smaller portions)

Low fat - strict

You are on a strict low fat diet (eg gall bladder, cardiac) and avoid all items like cream, butter, cheese, red meat, sausages etc. 

Idiosyncratic special diet

Please be sure to tell us exactly what you do and do not eat and how strictly you need to adhere to it. If complex, please provide full details as a separate document.

Food options

There are 3 ways of getting fed at Sheldon, and the options vary with different types of bookings. 

  • Catered. This applies to guests attending our programme events. Meals are served at the standard times, usually in the Pound House dining room.This option is not available for those on private retreat. 
  • Stocked larder. We fill up your fridge and storecupboard with everything you need, mostly as home made ready meals. It includes fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, main meals and snack foods. You won't need to do any shopping, cooking is minimal and just come to Reception if you need anything more. This option is available for private retreatants staying 3 nights or longer. 
  • Self-catering. You bring all your own food with you and cook for yourself. This option is for private retreatants

Group bookings may be either self-catering or fully catered - this is arranged with the group leader at the time of making the booking.

We are happy to cater for special diets but must have 2 weeks' notice (we don't have shops on the doorstep and must make up menus and orders in good time).

Please read the food notes on this page before notifying us of your dietary needs. We will keep your diet needs on file so they will appear on your booking confirmation email.