For most children, feeding the ducks is a favourite weekend pastime, but in Stockbridge, Hampshire things are a little different. Kids here make a trip to the town’s branch of Orvis to buy fish food to feed the friendly trout who also make the town their home.
The wide Georgian high street straddles the picturesque River Test and part of the charm is the many tributaries and shallow pools dotted along its length. Originally a drovers’ road, Stockbridge now offers the perfect mix of country charm and urban-inspired chic.
It’s a retail paradise and one of the few towns where chain names are rejected for quality independent shops. We opened our shop here back in 2011 and since then we have been joined by many more boutiques all offering visitors and locals a unique shopping experience.
Shopping in Stockbridge
The Garden Inn is a florist and gift shop which spills out on to the high street in summer and is hard to resist. Clothes lovers are spoilt for choice; Hero offers contemporary brands for a younger clientele - watch out for their regular events from social meet ups to wellness lectures.
Cleverley Wrapped is a relatively new arrival, offering scarfs in every design and style along with beachwear and cashmere. If interiors are more your thing then George Clarke is a tiny shop packed full of exquisite taste.
Stockbridge has regularly been voted the country’s best foodie street and it’s easy to see why. John Robinson & Sons is a butcher renowned for its handmade sausages and naturally reared, three-week aged beef.
Out and about
Just a few minutes’ drive from the High Street you’ll find the 4,000-acre Leckford Estate. Purchased in 1929 by John Spedan Lewis, founder of the John Lewis Partnership, it’s still farmed by Waitrose and is the only UK retailer owned farm.
Visitors can enjoy coffee, lunch or tea in the café and farm shop and garden lovers can take the opportunity to visit the onsite Longstock Park Nursery with its 80-metre long herbaceous border and stunning national collections of Buddleias and Clematis Viticella.
Another renowned plant collection is to be found south of Stockbridge at the National Trust’s Mottisfont where the National Rose collection is at its best in June and July.
The land bordering the River Test is now home to many of the UK’s wine producers. CottonWorth is a 10-year-old vineyard producing award winning sparkling wines. Tours and tastings followed by lunch are available most Fridays and Saturdays between June and October.
For restaurants you’re spoilt for choice in Stockbridge. The staff at Roxtons start every day with a coffee from Thyme and Tides, a deli and fishmonger with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce. They offer more than 40 different cheeses, local artisan breads, charcuterie and fresh fish from the Isle of Wight and Cornwall, available to take away or eat in their bistro.
Friday night is Fish and Chip night with hand cut chips and homemade tartare – a great start to the weekend!
The Greyhound, is a fabulous old pub/restaurant with accommodation, that serves local produce (wonderful brown trout from the Test and local watercress, to name but a few).
The Peat Spade Inn on the Test Way is a popular stopping point for walkers and food lovers. They have a fabulous menu filled with local and seasonal gems and also benefit from a wonderful beer garden.
Where to stay in Stockbridge
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Stockbridge, the Grosvenor Hotel is slap bang in the middle of the High Street. It’s just been taken over by the owners of the aforementioned Greyhound Pub and we’re hoping for great things when it opens after its renovation.
The Grosvenor is home to the Houghton Club, one of the most exclusive and secretive clubs in the country. It has just 25 members (one is Prince Charles) and owns several miles of prime fishing along the River Test, arguably the most prestigious chalk stream in the world.
If you fancy casting a line on the Test and aren’t one of the lucky 25 then there are plenty of other options, Orvis on the High Street offer various free beginners courses throughout the year along with more advanced tuition. Nearby Nether Wallop mill offer tuition from their beautiful riverside thatched fishing cabin. More experienced fishermen should seek advice from local agent Glorious Game.
What’s On in Stockbridge?
Stockbridge benefits from a non-stop calendar of events including the annual Trout ’n About Festival in August which celebrates not just fish but other local produce from watercress to water buffalo.
There’s a community cinema in the 18th century town hall and classic concerts in St Peters Church. The towns also boasts the Wykeham Gallery, one of the country’s leading contemporary art galleries with an outside sculpture garden and a changing programme of group and solo exhibitions that are well worth a visit.
Offering the perfect blend of country charm and town living, the staff here at our Stockbridge store wouldn’t contemplate calling anywhere else home. You can shop top brands on the High Street one minute, and the next take a walk to the serenity of the Stockbridge Marsh just a few minutes away.
Stockbridge is a town and a community that celebrate its rural heritage at the same time as supporting new and old independent businesses, and we’re proud to be part of it.
You’ll find our Stockbridge branch on the High Street, open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday – so please do drop in!