Bakhityar - specialists in Persian, nomadic and tribal kilims and rugs. Browns boutique. Hoxton Bakehouse. George Clark interior design. Greengrocers of Stockbridge in a rustic riverside barn. John Robinson traditional butcher with sawdust on the floor. Robjent’s country pursuits. Busy Prego for authentic Italian cuisine. Thyme and Tide bistro, deli and fishmonger. Wine Utopia. Wykeham Gallery. This is just a taste of Stockbridge’s High Street - a roll call of the delicious and the stylish. Country life at its chicest.

Stockbridge is a small town with no big chains. It mostly comprises one broad High Street lined with pretty period houses and shops colour-washed in shades of sunflower yellow, blossom pink, turquoise, buttermilk and sage.

The unusual eel trap can be seen just outside of the town. The unusual eel trap can be seen just outside of the town. (Image: Neil Howard)

The River Test has shaped the town’s scenery and story. Stockbridge appears to float on the Test as the river and its tributaries flow under the High Street, emerging beside shoppers who pause to spot trout in its clear waters. Hence Stockbridge being described as the fly-fishing capital of England. Fly-fishing experiences can be organised by the likes of Robjent’s and The Greyhound on the Test, a cosy contemporary country inn with riverside gardens.

The surrounding countryside of water meadow and rolling chalk downland is stunning. Footpaths leading from the High Street into this landscape include long distance walks - the Test Way and Clarendon Way. Meanwhile villages round and about delight. There’s Longstock with chocolate box cottages of thatch in gardens of honeysuckle and roses. This idyll is home to Josie Eastwood’s fine art gallery and the Leckford Estate (aka the Waitrose farm) with water gardens, farm shop, café and nursery. To the south of Stockbridge, Houghton has another garden gem: Houghton Lodge Gardens. These are a charming example of an 18th-century informal garden design and open to visitors until the end of October.

Trout 'n' About will return again this year.Trout 'n' About will return again this year. (Image: Emma Caulton)


Stockbridge’s foodie credentials are highlighted every summer when the Trout ‘n About food festival takes over the High Street. Now in its 16th year, it was originally established to raise awareness of Stockbridge, promote regional produce and provide a platform for small businesses, while delivering an enjoyable community event.

‘This is my third Trout ‘n About, and it takes a lot of work!’ says Emily Wilkinson, who was asked to take on the role of project and events manager due to her extensive experience organising local networking events. Emily is one of a core team of seven which includes the festival’s founder Richard Gueterbock. They all give up their time for free in the run up to the event. On the day they also rely on a much wider team of volunteers. Most are local to Stockbridge and help year on year. They have also enlisted help from the scouts, the church, football club and local school over the years, as well as having the support of all the businesses and residents on the High Street.

Emily continues: ‘When I started, we were still coming out of lockdown, so the first one had to be a virtual event (to keep it going), before returning to a physical one in 2022. The day itself is the best part for me. I was nine months pregnant at last year’s, but I still managed to be there on the day. It’s a long day on your feet, lots of problem solving, walking, meeting people, but it’s a wonderful feeling when it’s such a success. Getting the feedback from the traders and seeing smaller businesses having the chance to promote their products is amazing. I wish we could do it more than once a year!’

Thousands now descend on Stockbridge for Trout ‘n About, held on the first Sunday in August. People come from far and wide, including Andover, Bournemouth, Winchester and London. Its popularity has enabled Trout ‘n About to become a means of raising money to support the local community. Donations from the day are used to help fund the work of local charities in and around Stockbridge. To date the event has raised over £50,000!

‘We give an amazing spotlight on traders; many return year after year. They tell us it's the best event for them, and the local High Street businesses get extra footfall and revenue. We have extended our applications to traders outside of Stockbridge, but not too far, so it can remain truly local.’

The team are proud that this event has allowed start-ups and sole traders, as well as established businesses, to have an audience and create awareness of their products.

Every year the event grows with new suggestions in the mix. Emily adds: ‘Last year, we expanded the festival to include the recreational ground, named the Festival Field. This allowed us to accept more traders, and also provided an area where people can relax, enjoy some food and be entertained with live music.’

 Houghton Lodge.Houghton Lodge. (Image: Leigh Clapp)


It is all happening at Houghton Lodge Gardens. The 2024 season sees the return of Bridgerton Bliss (Regency tea, dance and music) and the promise of opera in the garden later this summer.

The Lodge and Gardens have been owned by the Busk family for over a century. Sophie Busk took on the running of the gardens ten years ago and since then, she and her husband Daniel have introduced a number of changes. These include a new Oriental Garden, opened last year by Charlie Dimmock, while the hydroponic greenhouse has been converted into a new tearoom named The Glass House which opened this spring.

They have increased the number of weddings – the gardens providing the perfect romantic setting - and converted six calf sheds into en-suite studio rooms furnished in a pretty country style with antique furniture, some from the house.

Further outbuildings, including the old brewhouse, a former milking parlour and cart shed have been transformed into studio spaces for The Lodge Florist, Hair & Holistic, and Sculptor Zoe Wilson. In addition, house tours, led by a family member whenever possible, are now available.

Houghton Lodge was probably built as a (rather grand) fishing lodge in the late 18th century, and is one of the finest and earliest examples of the Cottage Orne style. It sits in grounds that are a magical blend of history and nature. Lawns sweep down to the edge of the Test. There’s a walled garden with heritage orchard, including a 52-foot-long espalier pear tree officially recognised as the world’s longest tree, and a whimsical topiary peacock garden.

Sophie comments: ‘Houghton Lodge and its gardens is a truly tranquil and unspoilt part of Hampshire. It was built in 1793 to show off and be shared and this it does quite beautifully to this day.’

 Founders of Meadow: Laura Reynolds, Carrie Dunlop and Kate AnnissFounders of Meadow: Laura Reynolds, Carrie Dunlop and Kate Anniss (Image: Courtesy of Kate Anniss)


Kate Annis set up her own art consultancy, Mylo Art & Design, 10 years ago after moving from London where she had been an art director for an interior design company. Through Mylo she regularly held exhibitions, transforming her home into a gallery, but it wasn’t ideal.

When Kate couldn’t find the arty hub she was looking for in Hampshire, she teamed up with friends Laura Reynolds and Caroline (Carrie) Dunlop, and created one: Meadow in Stockbridge, a café-gallery-studio space celebrating its first anniversary in June.

Kate explains: ‘I have lived in Hampshire for 15 years and hadn’t been able to find what we have created here.’

While developing new collaborations, she came across this space in Stockbridge and out of that grew the concept of having a gallery that wasn’t formal, where you could meet up with a friend and have a coffee. Carrie had also visited places in South Africa where artisans work together in cafes.

Kate continues: ‘I run the gallery, Laura is responsible for food and operations, and Carrie is responsible for interiors. Art runs smoothly through the space; everything flows. We have had great feedback and interest since opening.’

Events include a pop-up shop, summer exhibition and block printing workshop. Could Stockbridge become Hampshire’s answer to Somerset’s Bruton?