In the picturesque Georgian town of Alresford, famous for its pastel-painted homes and riverside walks, you’ll find a veritable treasure trove of independent businesses. From the market town staples of butchers and bakers to elegant boutiques selling stylish interiors and designer clothes, Alresford is the perfect blend of the traditional and the trendsetting.
The Old Sheep Fair, Alresford, SO24 9EJ.
Our first independent spotlight is Long Barn. Once a medieval sheep pen, now a specialist nursery for over a hundred varieties of lavender, Long Barn takes pride in catering for the local community and visitors alike. It offers locally-sourced homewares, a stunning array of plants and delicious café treats, all under one roof.
In the New Barn, they have a delightful selection of clothing and homeware on offer, including their Lavender Collection toiletries, all of which are produced using Hampshire-grown lavender. Long Barn stocks these products in shops across the county, including Winchester’s Visitor Information Centre. All products in the New Barn are sourced ethically and locally where possible.
For the green-fingered among us, Long Barn has a Garden Room filled with a selection of potted and wrapped flowers and foliage. Their Plant Terrace, which boasts views of the 5,000 lavender plants that surround the Barn, is the year-long blooming garden filled with a variety of shrubs, flowers and saplings. You may even bump into one of their Garden Team, who are happy to provide you with some tips and tricks.
After exploring the shop, step into the original vaulted barn to enjoy breakfast, lunch and tea at the Long Barn Café. Their menus are seasonal, offering a fantastic selection of fresh and quality produce all year round. If you are taking the little ones along, be sure to look at their children’s menu (including babyccinos!). The atmosphere is relaxed, fresh and friendly, with views onto their terraced seating area and the lavender fields beyond. Find out more about Long Barn here.
Tiffin Tea Rooms
West Street, Alresford, SO24 9AU.
For our next independent spotlight, let us travel along Alresford’s West Street to Tiffin Tea Rooms. A true local favourite Tiffin has been serving the people of Alresford for over 30 years, 13 of which have been lovingly overseen by Sharon and Chris. Their lunches and specials include locally sourced ingredients from the town’s butcher and greengrocer, and all cakes are baked in-house!
While their food is home-grown, their reputation is world-renowned. They have received The Tea Guilds Award of Excellence thanks to their impressive selection of over 40 types of loose leaf tea, supplied by the Wiltshire Tea Company and Winchester favourite, Char Tea, to name a few. No one will leave having not been served their perfect brew.
To step through the door is to transport you back in time to the traditional English tea room. The space is bright and airy, the cakes are fully-stocked and the staff absolutely charming. If you’d prefer some summer sun while enjoying their special selection of afternoon teas, you can head out into the walled terrace or the front awning. On your way out, make sure you pick up some treats from their very own Sweet Shop next door. Take a look at their menu here.
Broad Street, Alresford, SP24 9AW.
Laurence Oxley is an expertly curated shop dealing in books, framing, art and maps, situated the heart of Alresford town centre. The bookshop was founded in 1950 and has stayed both a family business and a town staple.
Inside, there is a floor-to-ceiling selection of second-hand, new and antiquarian books, stunning displays of vintage maps, prints and paintings. They also sell stationery and art materials, set in a particularly charming vintage chest of drawers.
It is lovely to see such a traditional shop still thriving over 70 years after it first opened and adapting to an ever-changing market. You can check them out in-store on Broad Street, on Bookshop.com, or on their website.
From Winchester city centre you can travel to Alresford on the Stagecoach No64 bus.