Discover the beautifully restored house and gardens of natural history pioneer Gilbert White. Regarded as the ‘Father of Ecology’, White’s book ‘The Natural History of Selborne’ is the fourth most published book in the English language. The book is a series of letters and observations between White and his fellow naturalists, Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington, exploring wildlife in their local areas and how the species responded to changing seasons (phenological observations).
A testament to White’s legacy, ‘The Natural History of Selborne’ has never been out of print since its first publication in 1789. White is also renowned for major discoveries, including identifying the harvest mouse, chiff chaff and noctule bat.
Located in Selborne, a stunning corner of the South Downs National Park, Gilbert White’s 17th century home is now a museum open to visitors. Museum highlights include, the original manuscript of ‘The Natural History of Selborne’, White’s 18th century floral embroidered bed covers and White’s taxidermy hawfinch.
The museum also hosts collections belonging to Lawrence Oates, who was part of the fateful Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole, and the collection of Lawrence’s uncle, Frank Oates, who was a naturalist. There are interactives, original footage and children’s trails through the museum and gardens.
The extensive 18th century gardens (25 acres) have also been restored to their former glory for visitors to explore, with cottage, herb and kitchen gardens, as well as sweeping lawns and a wildflower meadow.
Access Visitors with disabilities are admitted at the standard rate, but on request the necessary accompanying carer, personal assistant or companion is given free entry.
The museum welcomes visitors with disabilities and we will do all that we can if any assistance is needed. Portable hearing loops are located where we offer video presentations. The ground floor of the house, the café and the Gift Shop have level or ramped access. The first floor, which houses the Oates Galleries and Gilbert White’s Bedchamber and Study, is only accessible via stairs: there is no lift. However, upon request you see a video that shows you the less accessible areas of the museum. There is also an audio descriptive tour of the house.
The car park entrance is a gravel path with a steady decline, and is difficult for those using mobility aids. We suggest the use of the High Street entrance which is level and paved, you are welcome to pull up to our High Street entrance to drop off.
The garden is accessible on well-kept grass and paths specially laid with very shallow gravel. There are several wheelchair adapted picnic benches throughout the grounds. The parkland beyond the garden is sloping and laid to rough grass.
The museum has a non-motorised wheelchair which visitors are free to borrow – just ask at Reception or call (01420) 511275 during opening hours to reserve a wheelchair for your visit.
Access into and around the Museum
The main entrance is fully accessible from street level. Please enter the house and gardens via the gates on Selborne High Street. The Museum entrance is located to your right and the Café entrance to the left as you enter the Stable Yard.
There are two designated access parking bays, in our car park, GU34 3BN, up behind the Selborne Arms. The two designated bays are located near the wooden pedestrian entrance gate, near to the far right of the car park. Look for the iron arched sign over the gateway entrance. Blue badge holders like all visitors MUST hand in their car registration number every visit, (parking charges will apply out of hours).
The courtyard entrance to the House and Gardens is via a ramp or a short flight of shallow, paved steps. The steps and ramp have handrails on both sides. The entrance is clearly marked beside the door. The reception desk, shop and way in to the museum galleries are located here.
The Museum is housed in an historic building with uneven floors and is on several levels, reached by steps. There is no lift access to the upper floors. An Access Point providing further information for visitors who are unable to reach the first floor is located in The Discovery Room. There is level access to the Garden for those with mobility difficulties. Please obtain a ticket from Reception before entering the Garden.
On entering the galleries from the Reception area, there is a slightly raised threshold into the Little Parlour. From there, there is level access into the Great Parlour, or ramped access along a corridor into Bell’s Library and the Discovery Room. A small ramp leads from the Little Parlour to the Rear Hall, from where there are four steps down into the Kitchen (which has a viewing platform at the entrance to the room). The first floor is accessible via the Rear Stairs (13 steps); a further 8 steps lead up to the Gilbert White Room from the landing, which also provides level access to the Bedroom and Study. A further 9 steps lead into the Frank Oates Gallery and the Lawrence Oates Gallery, from where a further staircase (9 + 14 steps) leads down to the Discovery Room. Visitors return via the ground floor rooms to the Exit.
Visitors can enjoy brunch, lunch and afternoon tea at the café. Local produce can also be purchased from the café which acts as a village shop. The original 1765 brewhouse has been reopened and craft beer is brewed onsite and sold in the café.
There are also beehives and our beekeepers produce honey for sale.
The museum shop is unique, in selling gifts including books, clothes, toys, stationary, and art, that have all been inspired by the natural world. The museum takes pride in selling its own gin, beer, jams, honey and plants that have been made, brewed, mixed or cultivated onsite.
Events are held throughout the year, from outdoor theatre to talks to children’s trails. Our biggest annual events include the family friendly Nature Day and the Unusual Plants Fair. The museum also takes part in the annual Jane Austen Regency Week, as both White and Austen had shared connections to places and people in the area.
Adult full entry: £18
Concession (student or over 60) full entry: £17
Under 16 full entry: £6
Under 5: Free
Garden only ticket: £12
Family Ticket (2 adults + 3 children) full entry: £38
Your ticket is an annual pass and can be used at any time during the next 12 months, excluding special event days. On your return, please present your ticket along with a form of ID.
Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am – 4.30pm
(Times may vary please check our website)
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