The Transformation of About Thyme: From Home to a Masterclass in Cotswolds Living

Caryn Hibbert is a woman on a mission. With dew still glistening on the grass on a May morning, Hibbert, the manager of the Thyme retreat in the Cotswolds, can be found diligently searching for wild orchids. Dressed in a stylish ankle-length waxed Barbour coat and Wellington boots, she carefully scans the ground accompanied by her loyal cavachon dog, Angelica, affectionately known as “Gelly Bean.” Among the sweet lady and meadow buttercups, she points out the delicate leaves of a common spotted orchid. During the peak season, the water meadows of the Southrop Manor Estate, covering approximately one-third of its 150-acre property, are filled with clusters of pale pink and purple orchid petals. This is also the time when migratory birds from sub-Saharan Africa join the resident kestrels, herons, kites, and barn owls, creating a picturesque scene as they fly over the field in search of prey. Hibbert describes the water meadows as a serene green oasis when viewed from above. They form an essential part of the estate, which includes a farm, kitchen gardens, spa, cookery school, restaurant, pub, and a luxurious 31-room hotel composed of historic barns, houses, and cottages. This breathtaking landscape is what initially drew Hibbert from her home in London to Gloucestershire’s Leach Valley over twenty years ago. Standing by the river in the garden of Southrop Manor and witnessing a kingfisher flying past, she was captivated by the astonishing beauty and untamed nature of the surroundings. Hibbert waits anxiously for the arrival of the cuckoo, a traditional sign of spring, which signifies the arrival of all the other birds and highlights the interconnectedness of nature. She often stands by the limestone-streams, home to otters, water voles, and damselflies, in awe of the charming woolly silhouettes of the estate’s Black Welsh Mountain sheep dotting the fields. The Hibberts’ family home, Southrop Manor, is nestled in this picturesque pastoral setting on the east side of the village. Hibbert confesses that she was not initially enamored by the house, which was originally named Philibert’s Court. Trained as an obstetrician and gynecologist, she had spent many years working in medicine before founding Thyme in her early 50s. On their first night in the house in 2002, her husband, Jerry, a retired animation director, was away in London for work. Hibbert was left alone with their three young children, who were frightened by ghost stories from the gardener, when suddenly the roof sprung a major leak. She recalls that they hadn’t conducted a survey of the property before purchasing it. Despite the rocky start, Southrop Manor is a Grade II*-listed manor house with a rich history dating back to the 16th century, and even older parts that trace back to the Domesday Book of 1086. The house tells the tale of the past thousand years, with each stone holding its own unique history and time-worn charm. Jerry’s study, believed to be connected to the nearby Norman church by a secret tunnel dating back to the 15th century, was once the manorial court. The house was extensively remodeled in the 1920s by English architect Norman Jewson, who incorporated his elegant arts and crafts style throughout. From the lead rainwater drainpipes to the grand Norman arch now leading to the dining room, Jewson’s craftsmanship is evident in every corner of the manor. The heart of the house is the oak dining room, adorned with curtains in Bertioli Oak Leaf fabrics and table linen in Bertioli Fern prints. Hibbert’s artistry extends beyond the property itself and into the Thyme retreat. Her latest project, Bertioli, showcases her talents in textiles, wallpapers, ceramics, table linens, and furnishings, all featuring her own artistic botanical designs. It all began when Hibbert was searching for botanical artists to exhibit at the Thyme retreat. She decided to try her hand at painting and rediscovered her love for it. Her son Charlie incorporated her watercolor renderings of wild hedgerow roses, medlar fruits, and wild garlic into the menu design at his restaurant. This initial success led to the creation of a full collection of botanical-inspired designs. Each pattern is inspired by a walk around the Southrop Manor Estate, bringing the beauty of nature into the home. The newest collection, Vegetable Row, features fabrics and wallcoverings with names straight out of a Beatrix Potter book. Despite their quaint names, patterns like Radish Stripe and Carrot Stripe exude a modern elegance, whether used on walls or upholstered on footstools. The Founding Collection includes designs featuring oak leaves, ferns, cherry blossoms, buttercups, and cobnuts. Hibbert describes the magical transformation of her paintings into fabric and credits her husband for helping bring her designs to life. The process involves digitizing the prints to capture the intricate movement of the original artwork. Hibbert works from the manor’s original hallway, a spacious room flooded with natural light, allowing her creativity to flourish. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Thyme retreat temporarily closed, the Hibbert family found solace and joy in returning to Southrop Manor. Gathered around the kitchen table, Hibbert’s children and their spouses, along with their baby daughters, enjoyed a simple lunch while surrounded by the history and warmth of the house. As Hibbert reflects on her life at Southrop Manor, she recognizes the house as a living testament to the past thousand years. Its enduring charm and solid structure have weathered the test of time, allowing it to be a home filled with love and life.


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Denial of responsibility! Vigour Times is an automatic aggregator of Global media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, and all materials to their authors. For any complaint, please reach us at – [email protected]. We will take necessary action within 24 hours.
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