Oakhurst Cottage Re-Opens for New Season

Oakhurst Cottage, the National Trust-owned labourer’s cottage beside the Cricket Green is opening to visitors for the 2024 season. This can only happen with the support of local volunteers, mainly from the immediate Hambledon area, who show pre-booked visitors around the property.

Villager Camilla Edmiston co-ordinates this activity. She writes:

“One visitor wrote about their tour of Oakhurst Cottage as ‘This utterly delightful old labourer’s cottage, dating back to the early 17th century, is indeed a rare find, and can rightly be described as unique, in that it remains largely unmodernised within, despite centuries of habitation.’

If you have never experienced a guided tour of Oakhurst then now is your opportunity to book and see for yourself, as the cottage will be open for the new season from Monday 1st April. For 2024, Oakhurst Cottage will be open in the afternoon on Thursdays, Saturdays and Bank Holidays.

Belonging to the National Trust, the cottage tours are provided by volunteer guides at 2pm and 3.30pm to pre-booked groups of up to six people. This is because the cottage is so small and slightly fragile in areas. The bonus is that it provides a very personal tour – each can be very different due to the particular interests of the guide and the visitor questions. Originally a barn before being developed into a small dwelling, the building is furnished to reflect how a farm labourer and his family would have lived in the mid-19th century. Outside there are original outbuildings to explore, comprising a period barn containing old farm implements, as well as an old privy and the remains of a pigsty. The property is surrounded by a delightful cottage garden with fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs that they would have used to sustain themselves, as well as some flowers, now including roses over a wooden archway.

In addition to the house guides, we also have volunteer gardeners who attend weekly and are gradually developing the traditional cottage garden style appropriate to a labourers’ cottage. They have commented that it’s been a bit too wet to do much in the garden this year in preparation for opening. However, in the autumn they planted two new damson trees which are doing well, but will take 5 years to fruit! An old quince near the well is producing new shoots following careful pruning, so hopefully this will bring it back to full health. There have been some new plant additions, the introduction of some more labelling where relevant and they are trying to develop a wild flower meadow at the back.

Last year we opened from 13th April to 28th October, the first time we had been fully open since Covid, but only on Thursdays and Saturdays.  We opened Oakhurst for a total of 57 days last season, welcoming 455 visitors. This year we are aiming for over 500 so please book your visit and help us to up the numbers!  So even if you have visited before, come again and see how things are developing here – you will always learn something new as each guide brings their unique insight to this little gem.

We are completely dependant on our wonderful volunteer guides. They are all very dedicated but we need more. So if you are interested please visit the website to register  https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/support-us/volunteer or contact Camilla Edmiston camilla.edmiston@btinternet.com to arrange an informal chat.

So welcome to the new season – hopefully more visitors and more volunteers.”

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