House, Gardens & Cafe Open Tuesday - Sunday 10.30 - 17.00

2022 Highlights

Back on the eve of 2020 there were high expectations of a roaring 20s, whilst 2020 and 2021 may not have shone quite so brightly, 2022 kept its promise and was filled with community joy!

With the arrival of the first snowdrops, the year officially began with the volunteers’ thank you day in February. The volunteer teams both young and old started to rebuild, with new members joining both the gardening group and historic house conservation group. Gilbert White’s House & Gardens is a hub for local people to come together, learn new skills and share their talents.

2022 marked 110 years since the start of Scott’s Antarctic expedition and volunteer Dr Anthony Fogg completed an excellent comparative study between Scott’s expedition and Amundsen’s expedition, using the diaries from the different expedition participants. Fogg’s research was the basis for the first exhibition of the year, which gained a double page spread in the Petersfield Post.


This dip into the paper was not the only headline news of the year. The inquisitive Great Crested Newt from Nature Day made the front page on the Petersfield post back in May. Although the downpour on Nature Day was enjoyed more by the amphibians than the adult human community, the rain could not dampen the smiles of children as they raced from stall to stall discovering the wonders of wildlife through games and activities and even wildlife handling sessions (under licensed supervision).

As Spring followed Summer the heat began to ramp up and provided glorious weather for the Unusual Plants Fair over Father’s Day weekend. More than 1,000 families flocked to the fair to be dazzled by the array of quirky plants, and to enjoy the BBQ along with the volunteer brewed craft beer. 2023 bring the 30th Unusual Plants Fair, so watch this space as we look to make it the biggest celebration of unusual plants in the UK!

Summer is also our season of song, and it went out with a bang with Chapter House’s ABBA! With audience members dressed to the nines in flares, sipping the bubbly and throwing any embarrassment away to the wind, everyone was a dancing queen that night. We will be bringing you even more live music performances next Summer, so don’t put away the glad rags!

As the hollyhocks bloomed there also emerged a more audible sound of buzzing in the garden, as our volunteer team opened up a new apiary. With a bounty of sweet wildflowers in the meadow, the bees produced gorgeous honey which was all sold in the gift shop.

With the bees buzzing and birds singing, Gilbert White’s House & Gardens was also blessed to host beautiful weekend weddings. Nestled beneath the Selborne Hanger, the 16th Century barn was witness to couples declaring their precious love before their friends and family. Harking back to Gilbert White’s time officiating marriages, Selborne has the power to transport people back to a simpler life, where time was precious and life most fulfilling when spent in the company of other people and the surrounding nature.

Someone special in White’s life was Rebecca Luckin, his maternal grandmother whom he spent time with as a young boy. The museum was exceptionally lucky this year to add Rebecca Luckin’s silver salver to the collection. It is a tray that would have been used for serving drinks or letters and is beautifully engraved with Rebecca’s initials. The salver is incredibly important because it is the only item held in the collection that can be traced back to Rebecca and this acquisition was so stunning that it entered into the Daily Telegraph back in July.

As the sun started to slip down the sky and the nights began to draw in, a gentle breeze blew out the headiness of Summer, replacing it with the calming rustle of Autumn. The Summer exhibition ‘Between the Margins’ which highlighted how ecological farming can benefit wildlife, was replaced with the Autumn exhibition ‘Drawn to Nature’. This exhibition explored how Gilbert White’s ‘Natural History of Selborne’ has been entwined with art history, from being one of the first books to include wildlife photography in its 1902 edition to becoming the home for the 1920s rural revival in traditional wood engraving. The exhibition included a number of contemporary pieces on loan from Pallant House Gallery, who originally put on the exhibition in 2020 to mark the tercentenary of White’s birth. The museum was lucky enough to welcome the Gallery’s curator Simon Martin to give a lecture on ‘Drawn to Nature’ in November.

Autumn was also a packed time for children, especially during the half term. There were interactive story sessions, followed by a nocturnal animal discovery day and then finally a spooky Halloween trail with actors from the Garret Theatre Company, sending the children on a trail to uncover Dr. Van Helsing’s mystery! Children also had the opportunity to gain an Arts Award from completing a story writing session with author Ally Sherrick.

Edging towards mid-Winter, the frost began to bite, but the events team pulled together to ensure that 2022 left the community with lifted spirits. A number of sold-out craft workshops were held, including wreath making, needlefelting and willow weaving, and on December 3rd a craft market popped up in the barn, with stallholders displaying sustainable gifts. With the house decked out with boughs of holly, this of course had to be accompanied by yuletide tunes and there were joyous performances from Alton Community Choir, the Prize Old Mummers and Otterbourne Brass band!

As we crept closer towards 2023 there was one last gift that the team at Gilbert White’s House & Gardens wanted to provide to the community and that was the invitation to the community opening of the Jubilee Taproom. With home brewed beer in your bellies and chimes of jingle bells sounding in your ears, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year.