Retired surgeon Caryn Hibbert has spent much of the last 10 years transforming a collection of historic farm buildings in the tiny Cotswolds hamlet of Southrop into Thyme, a 31-room, food-focused “village within a village.” Here, four spots in town where you can get a taste on the simple life.
The workshops and demonstrations at The Cookery School are far more specific than, say, Baking 101. This month, for instance, chef and cookbook author Alissa Timoshkina teaches Salt & Time, a look at modern Siberian cuisine. Before most classes, pupils are instructed to “Get your wellies on” and head out into the garden to fill wicker baskets with fresh-pickled ingredients (such as kale, fennel, or river mint) that appear in everything from breakfast juices to infused water.
Since 1606, villagers have congregated at The Swan, an ivy-covered pub that offers updates of classics such as the ploughman’s lunch. The meal contains the usual suspects—homemade sourdough bread and cultured butter, a soft-boiled Arlington egg, a terrine of local and wild meats—but swaps the traditional pickles for a bit of kimchi. “I’m big on fermentation,” says head chef Matt Wardman. “We’re not doing molecular gastronomy—just tipping our hats to the old ways, really.”
Hibbert’s 29-year-old son, Charlie, who grew up right here in the village, opened the Ox Barn restaurant last year in a converted 19th-century livestock shelter. Produce shifts with the seasons—depending on when you dine here, you might try wild cherries or espalier pears—but the family feel is apparent year-round. “Every time a colorful ingredient is rocking the garden, Mum paints it for the front of my menu,” Charlie says. “She has always had this arty side she didn’t get the chance to express as a surgeon.”
The Hotel Bar
The inn’s lounge is aptly called The Baa—a nod to the Cotswolds’ best-known trade and Thyme’s own flock of Black Welsh Mountain sheep. “They’re keen jumpers and get up to all sorts of mischief,” Hibbert says. “We field many late-night phone calls from guests walking back from the pub saying, ‘Oh, there’s a black sheep loose in the village.'” The fun-loving livestock inspire seasonal cocktails such as the Woolly Fleece, made with rhubarb vodka and cordial and shaken with Leghorn egg whites. Back in your garden cottage, you’ll find one final tipple: Turndown includes a tiny corked bottle of bespoke vermouth, spiced with herbs such as sweet cicely and wild chamomile.
From $464, thyme.co.uk