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The Hayloft Stable


Young People


Undressed for Dinner:

The Story of a Family trying to lead an ordinary life in an extraordinary place



About this book:

  • ISBN: 978-11910237-22-9

  • Second edition June 2016

  • Price £12.00 + postage

  • 240 pages

The author will be delighted to come and give a talk to local or national groups. If you would like more information, please email: books@hayloft.eu or telephone: 07971 352473

About the Book:

In 1997 Simon and his wife Wendy moved from London and bought a near derelict castle at the foot of the Cumbrian fells. Today it is an internationally renowned hotel but that was never really the plan. Simon's autobiographical account of family life at Augill Castle has won the prestigious Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year award 2014 and the Zeffirellis prize for People and Business.

Often funny,sometimes sad, the book tells the story of a young couple embarking on a journey into thetruly unknown,from the bright lights and fast pace of London's West End to a crumbling castle at the foot of the Cumbrian fells.

Very funny, occasionally sad, it's a real romp of a story - Hunter Davies, award judge, author and journalist

Wonderfully honest account of life behind the kitchen door - Fiona Duncan, Sunday Telegraph hotel critic

A story with something for everyone, a great read - Eric Robson, broadcaster

A fascinating read. I loved it - Janey Lee Grace, BBC Radio 2 presenter & author

Simon's new book, continues this story and will be out in September: Stop for Breakfast

About the Author:

Undressed for Dinner was inspired by Simon’s blog about family life in a country castle at


Simon was born in North London and moved with his family to Somerset aged three. He attended Taunton School where he did enough to get by and Bournemouth University where the beach was always more tempting than the library.
After graduating with a BSc in Food and Catering Management he worked in various capacities in hotels in the Channel Islands, London, Sydney and Perth, Western Australia.
On his return to England he took a post-graduate diploma in journalism and worked as a reporter on evening newspapers in the East Midlands for two years before marrying Wendy, buying a share of a restaurant in London’s Mayfair and moving to West London, all in the space of a month.
Simon now lives at Augill Castle in Cumbria’s Eden Valley with Wendy, their two children, Oliver and Emily, a cocker spaniel called Maisie, a cat called Luther, several chickens, a turkey and six goats.
He is a director of Cumbria Tourism, a governor of two schools and a dedicated supporter of Penrith RUFC under 16s. For more information about Augill Castle see: www.stayinacastle.com.

You can find out more about Simon’s writing at: www.SimonTemple-Bennett.com and his work with international young people at: www.BridgesNotBarriers.com. He was a speaker at the 2017 Words by the Water Festival of Words and Ideas at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.


This is neither advertised as a business book or meant to be a business book. With that said, it is one of the best business books you will ever read. Ever wanted to start a business? Read this first. You will cry, you will laugh (hard), and you will think twice about the work ahead of you!  I woke up on my 50th birthday in the most amazing of places, Augill Castle, in northern England. We found stayinacastle.com online and fell in love with the place; its history, the family, the dog, and the chickens. Owner Simon Temple-Bennett released a book about their experiences turning this deserted castle into an award-winning hotel. The book is charming, hysterical at times, and eye-opening about what it takes to create and maintain a successful business.
Dayna Steele, motivational speaker and author of the 101 Ways to Rock Your World Series

A wonderfully honest account of life behind the kitchen door showing the real blood sweat and tears that go into making a successful family run hotel. I laughed, cried and cheered in equal measure. Simon and Wendy's story is a real clarion call for celebrating independent hoteliers up and down the country. Fiona Duncan, Sunday Telegraph Hotel Critic

I love this book. Augill Castle is my favourite weekend retreat in the UK. This book makes fascinating reading about the backdrop to this magical haven in the Cumbrian countryside, and next time I visit I’ll feel even richer for sharing their story. Janey Lee Grace, BBC Radio 2 presenter and author of Look Great Naturally.

One of the Cumberland News Books of the Year – Steve Matthews writes: "In 1997 Simon and Wendy left London to make something of derelict Augill Castle. Sixteen years on, they're running a world-renowned hotel. This is how they did it. Cumberland News, December 2013

This is the true story of Simon and Wendy Temple-Bennett, who in 1997 bought a derelict castle at the foot of the Cumbrian fells in the Eden Valley. Augill Castle is now a flourishing hotel situated not far from Kirkby Stephen. They live there with their two children, Oliver and Emily, along with a cocker spaniel called Maisie and a cat named Luther. In addition they have several chickens, a turkey and six goats. Simon is a director of Cumbria Tourism, a governor of two schools and a dedicated supporter of Penrith RUFC under 16s.
This book tells their story from the day they bought the castle to the present day. It is a fascinating read, with many ups and downs, downs which few young couples should have to face. Simon writes in a fluent and easy style which is a pleasure to read. I had difficulty putting his book down!
Throughout the story he breaks away from the narrative from time to time to conduct an imaginary conversation with his dead father. This is a literary device which allows the writer to communicate essential information to his reader without writing lengthy explanations. Simon uses this device very skilfully and to great effect. He weaves his tale with a great deal of literary competence. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this often amusing, sometimes poignant but always interesting and chatty book.
Keswick Reminder, December 2013.

Jacket design: Henry Jenkins


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