Estimated time to read: 3 minutes
Just over half an hour away from our very own Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat, Selborne is a beautiful village to visit, with picturesque country houses surrounded by rolling hills, trees and the English countryside. Our Love Local business for October is The Gilbert White House & The Oates Collection and it is a must see for all those visiting the region, steeped in history but with fun games and event days for all the family to enjoy and learn something new about the natural world.
Gilbert White is author of the world famous book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, first published in 1789, the book has never been out of print and is said to be one of the most published books in the English language. White was the first person to grow potatoes in his village, that gives you an idea of the history we are talking about, before potatoes! He also has the reputation for being the first ‘ecologist’, he believed in studying living birds and animals in their natural habitat. This was considered an unusual approach back in the day as other naturalists carried out experiments on dead specimens in the comfort of their studies, so White really changed the game on ecologist studies.
Gilbert and his family moved into the house when he was around 7 or 8, it was originally a small house and was extended on to over the decades creating the long and sizable house you can visit today. The rooms of the house have been restored using the descriptions in White’s correspondence, including bed hangings that were embroidered from him by his Aunts, contemporary furniture, a chair that White himself used at Oriel College in Oxford, as well as many family photos. On display in the house is the original manuscript of his book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, more than any other book it has shaped our everyday view of the relations between human and nature. The extensions on the house contain The Oates Collection, which celebrates the lives of two members of the Oates family who were both pioneers and explorers, who were very different, but both equally intriguing.
The Gilbert White House is a fantastic place for families to visit whatever the season, as you wander through the house you will learn all about Gilbert White and his book, but also about life during the 1700’s. Keep an eye out for the Georgian cooking utensils, venture out to the garden to see the growing sunflowers and pumpkins with so much to explore in the wider gardens. The house and gardens has an exciting programme of family activities and events all year round, including Nature Drawing Workshops and Fungus Walks around the gardens, where you discover local fungi and learn the different types and how important they are.
If you happen to be in the area soon, October 8th 2016 marks the start of the Owl’s Life week, you can find out what it is like to be an owl, what they eat (for the less squeamish amoung you), what makes them so special, how they hunt and what species are found locally. You can even have a go at dissecting an owl pellet (poop to you and me) to see what the local owls are eating. Booking is a must for this fun and educational event, £6 per ticket which admits one child and accompanying adult.
Next time you’re staying with us at Tilford Woods Lodge Retreat, make sure to make time for visit this hidden gem in the stunning English countryside.