If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that when I’m not up to my eyes in nappies or crayons, I love nothing more than exploring old houses and buildings and a good rummage in a junk shop. Unfortunately, children under five don’t seem to see the fascination with dusty old relics, which means I don’t get to go much anymore – so when the Husband had a day off of work, he was put firmly in charge of childcare while my Mum and I snuck off to visit Gilbert White’s House in beautiful Selborne.
If you’ve never been to Selborne, I strongly urge you to go – and prepare yourself to fall in love. Beautiful cottages sit side-by-side listed buildings, and the peaceful churchyard, with it’s ancient gravestones, leads through to the common. At the risk of sounding slightly macabre, I’ve always been fascinated with old churches and their grounds; a lot of people think they’re ‘spooky’, but they’re an incredible source of social history – I’ve yet to find one that’s made feel even a teeny bit scared.
Gilbert White’s House is incredible, and well worth a visit – we spent way more time in the garden than the house itself; marvelling over the huge sunflowers, burying our noses in the tangles of sweetpeas and pondering on how exactly you could replicate the astonishing herb garden in a tiny terraced back yard (conclusion: impossible). We got talking to the head gardener about plants, and when I told her how lustworthy their natural plant supports were, she told me that they were planning to cut back the willow that day, and gave me three huge bunches – it’s been drying in our conservatory ever since, but I’ve got high hopes for turning it into wigwams to support the sweetpeas next year.
The weather was glorious; bouts of bright sunshine interspersed with just the right amount of cloud, so it stayed warm but not boiling hot, perfect for both walking and picture-taking. We finished the morning with a trip to the tearoom (one of the best in the UK, according to Country Living magazine), and had the most incredible sandwiches and pots of tea.
If you’re ever in Hampshire, you really have to go – it’s probably not the place for young children, though – there is a pretty big expanse of open ground directly behind the house but the best parts of the garden aren’t really suited to the littlies, who invariably prefer to run everywhere. Either that, or park them with a relative, who’s happy to supervise!