I think this lovely estate has been one of the best kept local secrets – I visited last month for the first time, and I have lived within five miles for over 40 years! The Thyme estate has been developed over several years, so I’ve only been slightly slow on the uptake. It is a place to stay, to eat – and to escape. I will quote owner Caryn Hibbert from her site, as I can’t do better.
“Thyme is a cluster of honey-stone properties in postcard-pretty Southrop, about eight miles from Burford. It’s a ‘village within a village’ says owner Caryn Hibbert, who has devised it as a dreamy, other-worldly haven. It’s composed of various elements – a former rectory, an old farmhouse, cottages and barns (including a magnificent tithe barn) – all beautifully restyled. It sits in a particularly striking part of Gloucestershire, with wonderful walks in the Leach Valley on the doorstep.”
What isn’t obvious from this is that you can also visit the huge and fascinating vegetable plot which feeds the guests and pupils at Thyme’s cookery school. And, of more selfish interest, they have a cut flower garden. More of that in a moment.
The purpose of my recent visit was to let Jenny D, my Esteemed Editor (and dangerous shopping trip chum), buy me lunch and take me to see the current exhibition. ‘The Nature of Thyme’ is a collaboration with JamJar Flowers, which really takes the art of pressing flowers to a new level. I have pressed flowers in the past, but this is something else! I had recently been designing some small cross stitch images to give the idea of pressed flowers and was pleased with the result, but after this visit I may have to rethink the idea…
After much oohing and aahing at the exhibition, Jenny and I sat outside in the tranquil and gentle garden, enjoyed a light lunch and sat people watching – including seeing lunch guests arriving by helicopter! I have included some pictures inside the magnificent Tithe Barn. (I could only imagine a wedding in this lovely space.)
Jenny had spotted an Instagram post about Thyme’s vegetable plots and, as an allotment holder, she was keen to see what they get up to. We were directed to the right path and drove the short distance to the growing area. Spotting somewhere to park was a little tricky, and as we got out a man on a tractor stopped right by us. We braced ourselves for a parking lecture but instead were met with a very friendly invitation to come in and a brief tour! We were then allowed to amble through plot after plot on the condition we closed the many gates to keep the rabbits out. Right at the end were cut flower borders and a garden filled with beautiful blooms. Thyme has an in-house florist to make the place even more beautiful – we may have discovered our dream job!
It is another world at Thyme…
‘The Nature of Thyme’ is open until 12th September in the Tithe Barn at Thyme. There is no entry fee, but you do need to book a time slot. I would also give them a call in advance if you fancy lunch with your visit.