High summer spells an episode of birthdays at The Hambledon. We cooed over a weeny horse and carriage destined for Lucy's royal cabinet. And discovered that gin and tonic cupcakes really do work.
Afternoon tea breaks became gelato runs. And Sturgill Simpson's Meta Modern Sounds in Country Music won soundtrack to our summer. Just listen.
We cheered on Victoria's son Theo in the Winchester Criterium as he whizzed by our front doors, and welcomed back Laura Brown aka 'Best in Town' as manager of The Hambledon at Cowley Manor. A matter of much delight.
Purbeck farmer Benjamin Hole made hay while the sun shone. Watching his perfectly formed hay bales take shape over on Instagram has had us seriously life lusting. Olivia has bagsed him as her future husband.
An acquaintance of Steve McQueen's called by. No joke. He worked with him as a set designer before Steve made it big. Steve was dating a girl from the chorus line and they all used to go for drinks at Louis' bar. Much comfort to know the man was as nice and cool and decent as we always imagined him to be.
Meanwhile over at Cowley we were most intrigued by a lovely lady, master quilter, embroiderer and maker-of-own-clothes who has only worn blue and shades of, for the past 25 years. Laura sold her the neon yellow Custom Made cardigan.
Also, Outlander. We're obsessed.
The blurb talks of wild honey, big bunches of herbs, crunchy salads, smoky lamb, old fashioned stews and bread straight from the oven. It asks you to grab a chair, squeeze in, enjoy the noise and leave room for dessert. OK. Sounds good to us.
Then you're introduced to two chefs who fell in love over their passion for food; whose early dates took them on a gastronomic tour of their homeland; whose infactuation with a cookbook bought them to London. Two chefs who last year made their dream their day-to-day by opening Honey & Co on London's Warren Street.
Google it and you'll see five star reviews about a buzzy little joint serving up no fuss, homey food packed with flavour. And you'll probably also clock that they won the Best Newcomer Award at last year's Observer Food Monthly Awards.
This is their first cookbook, and we for one are sold.
Our AW14 Bellerose edit is all about strong separates. They're the pieces you turn to for instant fixes; pieces you can throw on with a pair of jeans and head out with confidence. Silk print top, glittery knit, ticking shirt, trim detail tee, fake fur coat and micro dot corduroy jacket. The result is that effortless, playful and elegant kind of dressing we love. Hats off to Bellerose. We can always rely on them to show us how it's done.
There couldn't be a more perfect excuse to pop a few corks. So that's what we did at our official launch party at Cowley Manor last Thursday. A chance to welcome new friends, customers and team members into the fold; breathe, stand back and admire our lovely new space. What a lovely time we all had. Thanks go to the Cowley team for co-ordinating and to all of those that came along.
And Daughter, 1951 Maison Francaise, Barena, Baum und Pferdgarten, BeckSondergaard, Bellerose, Bill Skinner, B.L.F., Bonne Maison, Cash Ca, Chinti and Parker, Christys', Custommade, Diega, Frame, Goat, Great Plains, Hudson, J Brand, James Jeans, Just In Case, Laurence Dolige, Leon & Harper, Levi's Made & Crafted, Mads Norgaard, Marie Sixtine, MiH, Moscot, Paul & Joe Sister, People Tree, Pernille Corydon, Queene and Belle, Rabens Saloner, Scott Stephen, Stella Nova, Trois Petits Points, Vilagallo, Woolrich and YMC.
Anonymousism, Apenteur, Baracuta, Barena, Buzz Rickson's, Carhartt, Christys', Converse First String, Edwin, Engineered Garments, Fidelity, Filson, Folk, Gitman Bros, Grenson, Iron heart, L.V.C., Merz, Moray Cashmere, Moscot, New Balance, Norse Projects, Oliver Spencer, Orlebar Brown, Our Legacy, Redwing, Sunspel, Tanner Goods, Tellason, Trickers, Universal Works, Vetra, Woolrich.
Since January, we've been referring to it as 'the secret project' and struggling to keep our excitement under wraps. But here we are, finally able to shout about our new shop: The Hambledon at Cowley Manor.
The doors officially opened on Saturday after a whirlwind two-week fit out, undertaken by possibly the loveliest builders ever. We've worked with our very favourite interior architect David Rose who has completely reinvented the space. And now we have a light, bright, super sophisticated baby Hambledon in The Cotswolds; an edited (we like to think perfectly curated) mini version of the mother ship in Winchester, stocking womenswear, menswear, accessories and homeware.
A lovely lady had a face mask on in the C-Side spa when the email pinged up on her phone, announcing the opening. So she hopped, skipped and jumped just next door to become our very first, and very happy, customer. Here's to many more.
Green & Spring has long been one of our favourite bathroom brands. We've stocked it almost since the line launched in 2009. What you might not know is that its creators - Jessica & Peter Frankopan - are the hoteliers behind Cowley Manor, home of our new store.
Cowley Manor was their first hotel, opening in 2002 after a huge restoration project. At the time, the hotel carried a popular in-house product range, but it wasn't entirely natural, something that became a growing concern of theirs. After a little research, they realised they could create active and natural products, handmade in Britain and using botanicals native to the British Isles - and so they did.
The spectacular grounds of Cowley Manor proved a major inspiration. All Green & Spring products are created using herbs and flowers native to the British Isles - lavender, chamomile, reosemary, rosehip, red clover, elderflower, thyme, geranium, marshmellow, comfrey, dandelion, peppermint, fennel and rose - while all the aqueous based products contain natural spring water sourced from the Cowley estate. Cowley Manor is quite literally bottled here on our shelves.
A story of nice connections, all explained beautifully in the current project space installation at our Winchester store.
So here we are, with a new store in the grounds of one of the most famous buildings in the country. Be rude not to take you on a tour of our fancy new home.
The land on which Cowley Manor stands was originally owned by the Kings of England, until, in the 16th century, it passed to the Brett family where it remained until one member squandered the family fortune by over-indulging his passion for bell-ringing. Several owners later, the estate was snapped up by Sir James Horlick, the Malted Milk magnate, in 1890. Employing architect R.A. Briggs, he set about a vast building and landscaping programme.
Based on the Villa Borghese in Rome, an enormous, elaborate ballroom was incorporated (sadly no longer there today), as was a major spa complex with Roman, Greek and Turkish steam rooms. The Stable Block (where you'll find us) was built to house Sir James’s magnificent coaches and horses - the finest in the Cotswolds.
Over the course of three years, a whopping thousand trees a day were planted and cascades, follies, fountains and statues added to the gardens. Lewis Carroll was a regular visitor and local history has it that he was sitting at the top of the avenue of trees when he saw a rabbit disappear down a hole, providing the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
During the Second World War, Cowley was requisitioned to house the Cheltenham Ladies College – as a safe haven, as it was thought the Luftwaffe would find it difficult to launch raids down the narrow Churn valley. This proved to be correct, and the fine ladies of the College survived the War fully intact.
After the War, Cowley Manor fell into something of a decline with most of the original fittings and fixtures in the house and in the garden ripped out or allowed to disintegrate by the local council. It was bought by Peter and Jessica Frankopan in 1999 and over the next three years, Cowley Manor was scrupulously restored and rebuilt into the award-winning hotel that stands today.