EXHIBITIONS & TRAVEL
It’s 10 years since Kate Moss had her wedding in the tiny church of St Peter’s in Southrop, Gloucestershire. It’s exquisitely picturesque with limestone walls and a shaded churchyard that stretches down to the water meadows and the babbling River Leach. Here long grasses grow teeming with meadow buttercups, wild orchids, ox eye daisies and campion. Walking through the pathways amongst the thrum of insect wings feels about as far from lockdown London as you could get. It was then, earlier this spring, that JamJar Flowers were invited to come and pick some of the flora surrounding Thyme to create the artworks now on display in the hotel’s beautiful Tithe Barn.
The exhibition, The Nature of Thyme runs throughout ‘meadow season’ or from now until September at the Cotswolds hotel. A stunning suspended wreath made from dried flowers in soft whites and golds hangs in the centre of the room like a cloud. Then, beneath exposed wooden beams on white-washed walls are various artworks that are all for sale, including JamJar’s framed pressed flowers, clustered as a gallery wall at the far end of the room. We were especially drawn to the large-scale elevated prints on Gesso aluminium made in collaboration with Factum Arte including an oval daisy (available as an edition of 15) and a giant violet with original scale reproduction that’s a one-off piece.
As well as the artworks, there’s also a selection of pieces available from JamJar Edit including their floral wrapping paper, notecards, globe vases and calendars. These are part of Thyme’s boutique that is a destination worth visiting in itself. Beautifully curated by Camilla, daughter of the hotel’s founder Caryn Hibbert there are some unique brands on sale that we’d never heard of nor seen stocked elsewhere. Then there’s Thyme’s own Bertioli collection that features Caryn’s hand-painted botanical designs printed on table linens and silk pyjamas and robes.
The hotel itself feels like a true family affair. Beginning as a cookery school, food is at the heart of the hotel with Charlie Hibbert, Caryn’s son at the helm. After training at Ballymaloe and then Quo Vadis in Soho, Charlie returned to Thyme to the vast Ox Barn restaurant that spills from a former horse-riding arena out into the gardens beyond. Ingredients for the menu are fully supplied by the kitchen garden and polytunnels on-site. For the duration of the exhibition there’s a JamJar set lunch menu available that comes with a glass of Nyetimber rosé, carta di musica, burrata and black olive to start, polenta with grilled courgettes and lots of herby leaves and flowers as the main course and a delicious strawberry shortbread with lemon verbena ice cream for pudding.
It would make a lovely trip for the day to see the exhibition, have lunch and enjoy the grounds. If you decide to stay there are 31 bedrooms, each luxurious and welcoming and naturally, named after plants. Our room, the Comfrey had its own private garden with a fire pit and two chairs that caught the evening sun and proved the ideal place to sit and have a cup of tea and the homemade chocolate chip cookies left out in the room. With more time to explore there’s the Meadow spa, heated spring-water swimming pool, tennis court, Pashley bicycles waiting at the end of the drive, and low-slung hammocks swinging in the orchard invitingly. Surrounded by fields and flocks of sheep to one side and nestled within a village to the other, it’s an age-old vision of an English summer.
The JamJar exhibition is open to hotel guests as well as non-guests, who will need to book a timed slot to visit. JamJar Flowers will be hosting a flower pressing workshop at Thyme on July, 2-4.30pm. Tickets here.