Latimer Farm in Oddington: ‘One of the most charming places that you could spend a few days’

Country Life's Editor-in-Chief returns to his childhood stomping ground in the Cotswolds — with his own children in tow — to celebrate his 60th birthday.

While Daylesford Shire now dominates much of the Cotswolds style and thinking, as a young boy it was horses and particularly foxhunting that was the local religion — so much so that the legendary Heythrop huntsman Captain Ronnie Wallace was known universally as God. 

If you didn’t ride to hounds, or at least follow them on foot, there was very little conversation to have at dinner parties around Chipping Norton. 

This was made evident than when my parents bought a large Georgian house just outside the town for a mere £30,000; today that same property — the previous home of Jeremy Clarkson — would be worth many millions. 

When they bought Oldner House from Mrs Taylor, she insisted that as part of the sale, they buy a pony for me. She simply couldn’t believe I didn’t know how to ride and Mr Mouse, an almost white, Welsh Mountain pony came into my life. Without that pony, I would not have gone on to edit Horse and Hound and ultimately become Editor-in-Chief of Country Life.

Recommended videos for you

Today the Cotswolds is still beautiful if a little more manicured than when I lived there. It is the perfect-picture postcard of Britain. Its inhabitants just have new and different interests. 

Places like Daylesford, Thyme and Soho House have given it a vibrancy and a different feel. There are more gates on the properties, fewer antique shops in Burford, Stow and Moreton-in-Marsh, but far more things to do. It now has many of the finest places you can eat outside London. It is a place of charm and celebrity.

When my parents eventually sold Oldner House, I promised myself that one day I would buy it back. Now realising that my childhood dream will never be realised, I decided for my 60th birthday to my family to see the area I love so much.

We stayed at the newly launched Latimer Farm in Oddington, a place I must have ridden past many times while hunting on Mr Mouse. Until recently Latimer Farm had been just that: a farm, kept safe in the same family for almost three decades. Today, it’s managed by brothers Nico and Ben Willson, from the same family, and after some breathtaking renovation and interior design (spearheaded by Olivia Sutcliffe with help from Emma Kirby), it is one of the most charming places that you could spend a few days.

Rumour has it that the Willson brothers are on the lookout for their next sure-to-be fabulous project, in the same area.

It caters for all ages; my children swam, played tennis and used the gym facilities, while I managed some relaxing time in the steam room. The accommodation for 20 is both in the main farmhouse and also in what was once the former of pig sty (the total accommodation includes the Farmhouse, Cottage, Stone Barn and Dutch Barn which all come with their own private kitchens, living areas and outdoor spaces. The sty is now so elegant and charming that it would make PG Wodehouse famous sow, The Empress of Blandings blush. 

It is a place for entertaining from a delightful terrace beside the swimming pool for summer barbecues to a huge, long table in the Dutch Barn for a banquets. Geographically the eating options are like being on a safari and there are fully equipped kitchens and bars seemingly everywhere.  

To keep things simple, we celebrated my actual birthday dinner at the Wild Rabbit in Kingham, but raided Daylesford for ready meals and wines for the rest of our stay as we wanted to spend as much time at the farmhouse as possible. 

We also visited the Rollright Stones at dawn on my birthday and stood inside the prehistoric stone circle alone as the sun rose. It was a very special moment and better than anything I have experienced at Stonehenge with all its restrictions. 

Latimer Farm combines both the authentic Cotswolds of my youth and the wonders of what this wonderful area has become.

Latimer Farm is available to rent on an exclusive use basis from £15,000 a week. Visit Luxury Cotswold Rentals for more information and to book.

For even more Cotswolds inspiration, don’t miss our ultimate guide to the area, here