A Tranquil Walled Kitchen Garden
24 March 2015
There’s a fascinating story behind Pythouse Kitchen Garden Café & Shop. Pythouse is an estate near Tisbury, Wiltshire in beautiful rolling countryside where cattle and sheep graze. When you’re there you feel miles away from anywhere – it’s a quintessentially English scene. As you drive towards Pythouse you pass through Newtown village where most of the gorgeous Chilmark stone houses belong to the estate. The Estate is owned by the Rumbolds who sold the main house a few generations ago but kept the land; and it’s on a small part of this, in a walled garden, where you find Pythouse Kitchen Garden Café & Shop.
The lovely thing about the walled garden at Pythouse is it’s always been a working garden. In the 1920s a lovely man named Frank Hatton rented the garden from the Rumbolds, growing some amazing produce. It wasn’t a tidy garden with neat rows but rather a messy display of vegetables. However, locals clambered to buy Mr Hatton’s delicious produce and many who visit today remember selecting & weighing their vegetables and fruit and leaving money in the box. There was no car park, just the potting shed and a scruffy room where you could select and buy. Mr Hatton retired in 2002 at the age of 92 and only took time off to go to the races. Towards the end of his tenure he did hire a young man (aged 69) to help him out. A charming man he was a hit with the locals and a ladies man by all accounts!
The garden was then left for 5 years with no-one in residence and nothing being grown. Then a series of tenants sorted the garden, created a farmshop and tea room from the potting shed, and Pythouse walled garden was alive once again. It was in 2008 that a new manager, Mitch Earl stepped in. Mitch had married a local Tisbury girl Clementine, who runs Clementine’s Shop nearby, who he met while both working in catering in London. They now have 2 children Josh, 6 and Orlando, 3 and another one is imminently arriving! Mitch had arrived from Brisbane Australia for 3 months in 2001 but the love of a local girl meant his plans changed and he is now fully entrenched in the Wiltshire countryside. With a background in hospitality and events he was the perfect man for the job. Since taking it over, Mitch has built on a conservatory (built by a man who was weighed on Mr Hatton’s scales as a baby) transforming it into a charming destination, as you can while away the day while looking out over the garden.
There is a lovely rustic café with delicious food serving vegetables and fruit from the garden, and in the summer children can play while their parents enjoy a meal or a drink. It’s a real sun trap so plenty of opportunity to enjoy the summer days and a shop with lots of delicious produce. They have lots of regulars and Londoners use it as a meeting point with friends, and hold private parties and weddings and walks and talks around the garden for gardening enthusiasts. The café is open 9.00am to 5.00pm Wednesday to Sunday and serves breakfast, lunch and all day coffee, tea and cake and Friday nights is supper club with a tasty set menu. They are open every day in April. There’s plenty of character and remnants of old - the water pipes that fed the garden from the well, and Mr Hatton’s scales which many recognise from their youth.
In the last century, most large country houses had walled kitchen gardens to feed family, staff and guests yet many are now in a state of disrepair. It’s wonderful to see history restored into a tranquil place for us all to enjoy away from the stress of modern life.
If you haven’t been there you’re missing out and with spring days a plenty and summer on its way it’s a perfect place to go and just be.