Responsible tourism: South Downs B&B in Upper Farringdon, England
Old Timbers is a Grade II listed building in a lovely village in the South Downs. We fully appreciate our local environment and are keen to help to support and maintain its quality in the interests of people who live here and those who visit.
We encourage visitors to explore the local area by walking and cycling. Many walkers pass through on The Hangers Way which runs south from Alton, connecting to the South Downs Way, or St Swinthun’s Way which runs from Farnham to Winchester. Both are very popular and highlight different types of scenery. But there are shorter walks for our guests too, who walk to Jane Austen’s House Museum along footpaths across the fields, or to Selborne to visit Gilbert White House and Gardens, or Massey’s Folley in the village. Cyclists connect with Route 23 on the National Cycle network and explore the many country lanes, villages and National Trust properties in the area.
We are avid recyclers, including reusing plastic bags and providing them for guests if required. We have a field which we let to a local farmer to graze rare breeds sheep. We also make our own jams and marmalades and share any surplus seasonal produce – such as apples, plums and pears – with other people in the village.
At Old Timbers, we use local suppliers wherever possible. These include local builders for property maintenance, local marketing and business services specialists, farm shops and other suppliers of local produce. Hampshire has an established Farmers Market which alternates between a number of towns, including Alton, Winchester and Petersfield. We often source our meat directly from local farm shops.
We support a number of important charities in our local community. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre in Alton helps over 600 people a year. For the August Bank holiday, we hosted a fundraising event for 100 people with a marquee, hog-roast (from Sole butchers in Alresford) and Jazz band (Jazz Summit). We also support the “Farringdon Over 60s Christmas Dinner” team.
We encourage our guests to visit our local pub, the Rose and Crown, which is important community facility in itself. It is believed to have been built as an ale house in 1810 by Edward Knight, one of Jane Austen’s brothers. Edward was adopted as a boy by the Knight family who were wealthy relatives of the Austens. He took their name and went on to inherit the estates of Chawton (village next door to Farringdon) and Steventon in Hampshire, as well as Godmersham Park in Kent.
Old Timbers is a 17th century Grade II listed property with its own charm and history, incorporating the exposed oak timbers and other original features. We sympathetically restore and enhance our property, balancing our character with the comforts and practicalities of the 21st century. Our location and surrounds are steeped in rural life and agriculture. Jane Austen lived and wrote many of her famous novels within a couple of miles and knew Upper Faringdon well, walking the same paths to our village church which is over 800 years old. Gilbert White, one of the first naturalists, was curate at the same church and studying the environment for decades.
The countryside supports both arable and livestock farming. The downlands have provided clear chalk streams for fishing and hard water for the brewing industry for centuries. Even today, there is a large brewery in Alton, plus several micro-breweries (Triple FFF, Hogsback, Itchen Valley, Flowerpots, Bowman and Mr Whitehead’s Cider). English ‘champagne style’ wine is made at Jenkyn Place vineyard near Bentley. There is a Lavender farm and Alresford is famous for Watercress, with its beds and festivals.