Deans Court is a former Saxon Monastery now owned by William and Ali Hanham. The 13-acre gardens include a Saxon fishpond and lots of vegetable plots whose vegetables are used at the Deans Court café.
The former Saxon monastery and Georgian house has belonged to the Hanham family for almost 500 years. You can visit the house on National Garden Scheme days, but the gardens, too, are well worth your time. Measuring 13 acres, they include a herb garden, orchard and chalk stream, tracing the house’s diverse history and its occupants over the years. Two big trees, the Tulip Tree and the American Swamp Cypress, have been there since 1607, when they were brought back from the New World by Thomas Hanham. There is also a large Saxon fishpond which used to provide fish for the medieval monks. This tradition of self-sufficiency is still important to the family today: the permaculture gardens produce chemical-free vegetables for veg boxes and the on-site café.
Deans Court places a big emphasis on sustainability, and most of the food on sale in their cafes and used in their cooking is from local businesses and producers. If you choose to stay there overnight, you’ll get to experience this country-living dream for yourself. You can stay in one of the refurbished cottages, each with quaint names such as ‘Apple Cottage’, ‘Plum Cottage’, or, if you’re a keen fisherman, the ‘Fishing Shack’, which has a basic kitchen, fire pit and bunk beds. You’ll wake to freshly-baked bread, local free-range eggs and jewel-bright pots of jam. It’s hard to believe it’s only two hours from London.