Ramble around this page in deep nature, follow the river, wander the woodland, scrump in the orchard...and lose yourself in a crumbly old Big House.
(leaving it to) NATURE
Nothing does nature better than Nature, so besides tree-planting and path-making, we've put Her foot firmly on the pedal, and are trying to let it all be. This kind of Wilding is harder than you think - Man has a natural impulse to interfere, control and "improve" things, but letting natural processes take their course is where the magic begins. Look at what we're not doing around the land, and maybe find some inspiration for your own gardens where you can make space for Nature too.
We've inherited some magical old woodland and planted some new native oak forests too, which follow the river's course; their galloping progress in this rich land and the steady increase of bio-diversity under its canopies has helped the earth come alive again. Planting trees is an act of faith, rewarded daily by watching them grow and be our silent, steady sentinels as we move into the future.
Three years ago we just decided to take the livestock off the land and let the fields grow. Within weeks we were surrounded by living, breathing meadows which have filled, and continued to fill with wildlife, herbs and flowers. We would never have predicted how alive they came, and how much the birds, bees, wild mammals and butterflies have relished their new pastures. We keep it completely chemical-free, cut the grass once a year to preserve the meadow, but that is all. People tell us its the sweetest smelling hay in the district and reminds them of long lost childhoods.
The rampant, softly tended gardens of Killyon Manor, where wild flowers, herbs and grasses are interspersed with the original plantings were our original inspiration for the wilding of this place. Chemical free, there is a Secret Garden feel here of nature, barely controlled, a rich habitat for the birds, the butterflies, the earthworms, beetles and bees. On a soft spring day, it feels like paradise.
These belong now more to nature than to man. In the centre of the Island Wood stands what was once... what? A forest chapel, a gamekeeper's house, a tea-house folly ? On the banks of the River Deal , a roofless cottage with four chimneys; further along the banks on the other side, a ruined church; the walls of an old garden. Their original purpose blurred by time, these buildings leave us free to make of them what we will.
inside THE MANOR
The poshest room in the house (but still not too posh) with wood-burning stove and comfy sofas.
A happy, good sized place with most mod cons for good old-fashioned country hospitality.
Three bedrooms are generally available here, all equally quirky . More boho than baroque, guaranteed chintz free.
For small drinks receptions or large dinners, with banquet table and recycled chandelier.
A glorious 1100 square feet of wooden dance floor and faded-glory event space, flooded with light from 936 panes of glass.
Roland's Cinema D'Amour. Projector and movie screen, with twelve old school velvet movie seats. Popcorn optional.
An intimate space, surrounded by the family clutter of ages and shelves and shelves of books.
Fondly known as the Shift Shack by our festival goers - this quaint, crumbly old secret space opens onto the herb garden.
Behind these tall walls is a basic indoor/outdoor space, with three public loos, shower and a smoking yard.