Swerford holiday cottages in the Cotswolds
Five beautiful cottages lovingly converted from old stone farm buildings, set around a stunning paved courtyard with water garden, provide the discerning visitor with a unique opportunity to enjoy a luxurious country break in surroundings of unusual quality and interest.
Oak panelling, stone walls, exposed beams and open fires in all cottages make for a warm and inviting ambiance. Dine or relax outside to the sound of running water and the scent of lavender in the courtyard, enjoy a game of croquet or wander our magnificent 70 acres of woodland and wild flower meadows. Enjoy England Gold Award for four of the five cottages: Hazelnut, Beechnut, Chestnut and Walnut.
The resident owners have designed everything around the use of local and traditional materials and skills: imaginative ironwork to enhance doors, windows and fireplaces commissioned from a local blacksmith; furniture and fittings handcrafted for each cottage from wood grown on the farm. ‘It’s the sort of place William Morris would have approved of’.
Guests will be constantly delighted as they discover the workmanship inside the cottages or the wonderful views over unspoiled Cotswold countryside.
Close to good restaurants, shopping, farmers markets, pubs, as well as fishing, riding and golf facilities. Easy access to M40 via Banbury (7 miles). Ideal for visiting Oxford, Stratford, Bicester Village and all Cotswold attractions.
Heath Farm now consists of 70 acres but from 1963 until 1990 was part of a 370 acre arable farm with pigs and sheep. In 1989 with farm incomes in rapid decline and the outlook bleak the decision was taken to sell the pig herd (the sheep had been sold previously) and most of the arable land, and re-invest the money in diversification projects. However we do still keep some livestock, namely sheep, chickens, geese and sometimes pigs, to keep our larder stocked up!
We decided to turn the traditional stone buildings into high quality holiday cottages. We wanted to use natural materials as far as possible and invest in local craftsmanship. To this end we commissioned a local blacksmith to make iron ware for the doors and windows and set up a small joinery to produce the hardwood furniture and fittings for the cottages. 2 local builders worked with us for 3-4 years and their skilled stonemasonry is evident. We also set challenges with our particular designs with each cottage having its own character and specifically designed interiors. We wanted to create a beautiful environment for ourselves as well as for our guests and enjoyed creating the courtyard that we all share. It is lovely that so many of our guests appreciate the attention to detail and quality of workmanship and that they tell us how relaxed they feel here.
The joinery shop was kept on and continues today making bespoke furniture for the local market and also helps in maintaining and upgrading the holiday cottages.
David and Nena had always been interested in improving the ecology and environment of the farm and in the late 70’s began a long term programme to improve wild life habitats. Several ponds were created and every year trees were planted to fill in odd field corners and on unproductive land. After the decision to sell off most of the land had been taken a rapid expansion of environmental work was undertaken on the remaining 70 acres. A major tree planting programme was started which has resulted in nearly all the land having some sort of tree cover.
Since nuts had always been a consuming interest for David, in 1990 an acre of hazelnuts was planted along with about 200 walnut and chestnut trees. These trees are now beginning to crop well and David enjoys selling the produce at Farmers Markets in the autumn. He has even gone as far as to take walnut and hazelnut kernels to France to get them pressed for oil, which he also sells. A further 80 hazels and some walnuts were planted in 2008 to extend the nut orchard. A millennium nut collection was also planted in 2000 which contains all the species which might possibly produce nuts in our climate. Included are unlikely species such as Ginko Biloba and Monkey puzzle. Also planted in 2000 was 5 acres of hazel for coppicing, that is to produce long straight sticks for a variety of uses such as hurdle making and hedge laying. This is probably the first planting of hazel coppice on any scale in Oxfordshire for at least 100 years. The objective here is to try and preserve and protect local coppicing skills, to provide some rural employment, and also to evolve habitats for wildlife.
Around 50,000 trees and shrubs have been planted of about 60 different species most of them native. The objective in managing most of the forestry is to produce quality sawlogs. The principal species being Ash, Oak, Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Hornbeam and Cherry. We endeavour to high prune the best specimens to achieve a tall knot free trunk. Along with this we aim to provide as wide a diversity as possible of wildlife habitats by planting shrubs and low growing trees around the plantation margins as this is where most animals like to live. We also try to leave wide rides around the plantations. Along with the tree planting two wildflower meadows have been created. A small area of woodland beside the entrance drive has been underplanted with woodland species of wildflowers. These are all now well established, produce an abundance of colour during the season, and attract large numbers of butterflies.
All the work that has been done certainly seems to suit the wildlife as we regularly see around 50 bird species, and have even had nightingales. The conservation work has definitely provided habitats for species that we never saw in the past, such as buzzards which are now commonplace. As well as all the birds you will also see many mammals resident here such as Roe Deer, Muntjac, Badger, Fox, possibly Mink, many Rabbits, Stoats and Weasels. There are quantities of Field Voles, Moles and of course Squirrels. The pond below the cottages contains large numbers of crayfish which you are welcome to catch and eat for your supper (excellent with mayonnaise!)
Please make the most of your holiday at Heath Farm by exploring all that we have here and enjoy finding and watching everything that nature has to offer. Do tell us if you see anything exciting or unusual and whether there is anything you think we should do to improve your enjoyment of our piece of rural Oxfordshire.
Rooms, food and facilities
Walnut and Cobnut sleep 4
(Two cottages can be linked to sleep 6).
All equipped to high standards (gold award) for 4 and 5 stars.
- King size and superking beds.
- Full central heating.
- Log fires.
- Ample safe parking on site.
- 70 acres of woodland and flower meadow to walk/picnic in -map provided
- Croquet lawn
The crowning glory, Walnut occupies the top floor of the converted barn. Sunlight floods into the vast living area through an entire gable of elegant oak windows overlooking the courtyard. Competing for attention is the massive stone fireplace with its chimney breast towering up to the pitched ceiling of the sleeping gallery above. This is reached up a solid elm staircase landing in front of a magnificent stone arched window giving glorious views down to the fish pond and across the picturesque valley. The spacious bathroom has a separate shower. Exposed stone walls, oak beams, wood panelling and polished elm floor combine with the comfortable seating to create a warm and luxurious ambience.
The latest addition to Heath Farm Holiday Cottages, Cobnut completes this exclusive quintet of superb cottages. As with all the other cottages here, Cobnut has been finished to an unusually high standard, with attention to detail again to the fore. A spacious entrance verandah leads into the living room area with a beautiful solid elm floor, quality sofa and armchairs and open fire place. The windows afford stunning views across the valley and into the courtyard. To the right through a beautiful elm door is a small cloakroom with airing room and washing machine.
The dining area has a large refectory table in solid elm which can seat upto 8 people. The oak kitchen has a granite work top and stainless steel fittings with all modern equipment. A beautiful solid ash open tread staircase with oak panelling to the side leads to the 2 ensuite bedrooms. The front room overlooking the courtyard has an exquisite shower room with exposed stone wall, Venetian marble tiling and oak panelling with an electronic power shower.
The rear bedroom looks out across the pond and valley beyond and has a large bath, also with Venetian marble tiling and oak panelling. Both bedrooms have solid oak floors, ample storage and handmade hardwood beds which can be arranged either as 2 single beds or linked together to make super king-size doubles. Top quality firm mattresses and beautiful linen make for comfortable nights.
No smoking. No pets.
How to find us
By car: A361 junction 11 at Banbury from M40 (London Birmingham). Head on A361 towards Chipping Norton. Approx 7 miles.
By train: Banbury is the nearest station.
How this holiday makes a difference
We are part of The Green Tourism initiative and our efforts have so far been recognised with a 'silver' in Green Tourism.
We began a conservation project in the late 1970's and have planted our 70 acres of land with a wide range of plants and trees to encourage a diversity of birds and wildlife. We aim to provide as wide a diversity as possible of wildlife habitats by planting shrubs and low growing trees around the plantation margins as this is where most animals like to live. We also try to leave wide rides around the plantations. Along with the tree planting two wildflower meadows have been created. A small area of woodland beside the entrance drive has been underplanted with woodland species of wildflowers. These are all now well established, produce an abundance of colour during the season, and attract large numbers of butterflies.
All the work that has been done certainly seems to suit the wildlife as we regularly see around 50 bird species, and have even had nightingales. The conservation work has definitely provided habitats for species that we never saw in the past, such as buzzards which are now commonplace. As well as all the birds you will also see many mammals resident here such as Roe Deer, Muntjac, Badger, Fox, possibly Mink, many Rabbits, Stoats and Weasels. There are quantities of Field Voles, Moles and of course Squirrels.
Our old farm buildings were renovated using local stone (some from the premises and the rest from local quarry and villages). The conversion respected the original inward facing horseshoe shape of a traditional farmyard in this area. We used almost exclusively British hardwoods for windows, doors and beams and furniture. Some of this wood was from the farm's own trees. We continue to manage our woodlands to support the production of good timber in the future which will enable our joinery to continue to make and replace furniture and fittings of the cottages and others in the area.
We list local food and service providers in each of our cottages. We sell our homegrown nuts at local farmers markets and a local farmshop so we have good contact with our local food producing community. Recently we have had a baker set up shop on the farm and we are trying to find a way for our customers to be able to order their bread from her.
We have leaflets for local massage and treatment as well as a whole range of activities locally like horse riding, golf and walking.
We always have our local theatres brochures available and are regular visitors ourselves. We have recently begun to use twitter and have advertised local events coming up in this way.
Our cottages were converted and furnished using skills of local craftsmen and are kept scrupulously clean by ourselves and our cleaners with whom we have a good and long lasting relationship. The grounds are maintained with the help of a local employee from whom we have learned a lot about traditional country practices and knowledge of flora and fauna.
We donate £1 from every booking to 'Step into the Cotswolds' a charity to support local conservation efforts and we encourage our guests to find out more about their work in case they would like to support it too. We have allocated a part of land to be used by the local 'Forest Schools' project and have weekly visits from schoolchildren to their corner of the woods. We have also hosted woodcraft folk events and parties.
We have made a map of our land and suggested a few different walks on it. In the information we give we highlight some of the trees we have planted and ask our visitors to see if they can identify them on their walks. We also recommend and have maps detailing local bridleways and foot paths.
We mention the various nuts and fruits that grow wild (cherry plums, blackberries) and encourage our guests to try some on their walks around the farm.
We belong to the Oxfordshire Woodland group and just recently held our first open day sharing information about hazel coppicing and products, woodland management and charcoal burning. We hope to find other ways to share information about hazel coppicing and encourage our guest to take an interest in traditional crafts.