A local's guide of things to do in Stockbridge
PUBLISHED: 10:56 10 October 2019
There's something special about Stockbridge; Emma Caulton catches up with the locals who wouldn't be anywhere else
Stockbridge is a mini town that floats on the River Test - its tributaries running under and beside the High Street where ducks waddle and shoppers pause to spot trout in the clear waters. This is country life at its smartest - all fly-fishing, stylish boutiques and posh pubs.
Josie established eponymous Eastwood Fine Art in 1996 after moving from London where she managed a gallery in Chelsea. She holds five exhibitions a year in her newly built gallery, an old converted barn, and twice a year in her home. The exhibitions showcase work by artists, painters, sculptors and ceramicists, found by Josie who travels across the country unearthing young talent and selecting the best work from established artists. In between exhibitions the gallery is open by appointment. Josie also visits clients' homes to help find the perfect piece of artwork for a specific room.
Josie's local life
- Best thing about Stockbridge: "There is something special about Stockbridge. There are no longer many towns where you have excellent food shops selling the freshest veg, fine fishmonger and deli, brilliant butcher and wine merchants."
- Favourite shops: "Robjent's is a mecca for sporting enthusiasts. There is nothing about shooting or fishing that owners Kirsty and Alastair do not know. They can provide all the kit and advice you need. The shop, housed in a bright yellow Georgian building, is a treasure trove!
"George Clarke has beautiful table decorations and great lampshade fitting and finding service. It's a gem of a shop. Camilla who runs it has a great eye for interiors.
"Longstock Park Nursery is the John Lewis Garden Centre, sited in the middle of their estate. It has incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff. They have given us endless advice on plants that deer will not decimate."
- Walks: "A good circular walk starts at St Mary's Church in Longstock, heading up to Danebury Hill and turning back, ending up at our village pub, The Peat Spade Inn."
- Eating out: "It is hard to beat an evening at The Greyhound Inn - they have a magic formula of delicious menu, great setting and fine wines. A really spoiling night out."
- Hair salon: "Misho's hairdresser in The Vine Yard behind Beccy's Greengrocer. It's difficult to get an appointment, as they have a strong client base, but worth trying."
- Top tip: "Painter Kate Measham runs the most wonderful art classes at Hampshire Art Studio. Kate creates a relaxing and encouraging environment."
Busy Lucy owns The Greyhound on The Test, is a shareholder in Wine Utopia and has recently taken on The Grosvenor. She fell in love with the area after working with legendary duo hotelier Robin Hutson and sommelier Gerard Bassett at Hotel du Vin in Winchester. Lucy ended up moving to Stockbridge and taking on first The Peat Spade Inn in 2004 (by default becoming a specialist in fishing and shooting), and then The Greyhound on the Test, in 2012, turning this characterful 19th century inn into a stalwart of the Good Food Guide. At the end of March 2019, Lucy took over The Grosvenor (home to the oldest fishing club in the world) reopening it days later already fresher, brighter and more glamorous, lifting carpet to reveal original parquet flooring and introducing a classic, timeless style. Her intention is to restore it as an iconic building: "When I first came here 15 years ago, I thought 'I want that'. It had become a big lump in the middle of the High Street; I wanted to give it some love! It will be a long refurbishment. We're planning to redo the front, increase the number of bedrooms and create an attractive lobby where you can walk through to the garden. It feels like every day it's coming back to life."
Lucy's local life
- Best thing about Stockbridge: "In 2013 when my husband became very ill Stockbridge grabbed us and got us back on our feet. It is very special that this little town helped us so much."
- Favourite shops: "Everything we've bought so far for The Grosvenor, such as rugs and curtains, we've sourced from Stockbridge's High Street. Jane Campsie of the Garden Inn came in and filled The Grosvenor with trees and plants. The shops are really lovely and, bar the Co-op, all independent."
- Eating out: "Purbani, the Indian restaurant, is brilliant."
- Café: "The farm shop at Leckford is a beautiful spot for a cup of tea."
Sophie and Jane established La Bella Donna, having worked together running a property business in Italy. On their travels around Italy they came across so many beautiful shoes, bags and scarves manufactured by family businesses that they decided to open a shop. It also stocks their own olive oil, from olives they've picked themselves. Italian music plays in the background and on Saturdays they serve prosecco. Sophie explains: "The Prosecco Club has become a feature of Saturday afternoons in Stockbridge! You don't need to buy anything; it's a very jolly atmosphere."
Sophie's local life
- Best thing about Stockbridge: "It's so very beautiful - we're incredibly lucky and you can take it for granted."
- Recommended shop: "John Robinson butchers has fans around the county."
- Pub: "The Three Cups has a beautiful garden."
- Cafe: "Thyme & Tides is always packed."
- Walk: "I often walk along the old railway line to Romsey. There's also beautiful marshland behind the shops - very popular in summer with dogs jumping in the river. Stockbridge Downs is stunning with views over the valley."
- Top tip: "The Country Market on Thursday in the Town Hall makes a good meeting place."
Fifteen years ago, inspired by her love of flowers, gardens and nature, Jane combined all of those elements and opened a shop, Garden Inn, in Stockbridge. She also utilised skills from her previous careers, having trained as a florist in London and worked as a stylist for women's magazines. So, truffle hunting for the beautiful and the desirable for the garden and home was her forte. The Garden Inn offers an ever-changing display of fresh and unusual flowers, lovely plants and decorative pieces for the garden and home, as well as providing flowers for every event.
Jane's local life
- Best thing about Stockbridge: "For a small place there's a thriving community."
- Café: "One of my favourite ways to start the day is to grab a latte from Thyme & Tides (they also offer the best white chocolate and raspberry brownies) and wander down to the water meadows."
- Walk: "You can walk through the water meadows to Houghton and visit Houghton Lodge - a beautiful house with wonderful gardens and fab conservatory."
- Activity: "A spot of fly fishing on the private beat at The Greyhound on the Test."
- Fitness & wellness: "There are some great classes at The Woodland Studio at Turner & Thom, The Old Stables, Sandydown."
- Treat: "You can't visit Stockbridge without having afternoon tea at The Grosvenor."
- Evening out: "It's all about good food and good company. I enjoy a Thai meal at The Greyhound in Broughton - it's relaxed and the food is sublime."
- Pub: "The Mayfly for its magical setting. I like to go there as early as possible, sit by the river and have a coffee before the crowds descend. In the evenings they also do a wonderful selection of local beers."
- Staying over: "Lockerley Manor, Lockerley, offer B&B and recently converted their hayloft into a luxury holiday let. It's also a good place to stay if you are visiting Mottisfont - a must for those who appreciate a breathtaking walled garden."
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