Quiet beauty
Hampshire Life|September 2020
Quiet beauty
The unique gardens of Bere Mill in Whitchurch are inextricably linked with the river and have a defining tranquility
Leigh Clapp

Home to Elizabeth and Rupert Nabarro since 1994, Bere Mill sits low in the landscape beside the River Test and is first glimpsed as you cross an ancient bridge spanning the pristine waters.

Approximately five acres of gardens stretch out behind the historic house and mill, interspersed by side streams and blending into the water meadows beyond where cattle and sheep graze on the Nabarro’s 100-acre farm. The whole landscape is run on organic methods and the couple are practically self-sufficient, including water and heating drawn from the river. It comes as no surprise to learn that the unique location with the timeless quality of the landscape was the main drawcard to the property, and the then derelict buildings a challenge they took on with enthusiasm.

There has been a mill on the site for seven centuries. The 1712 mill was historically important as the original location where Portals made bank-note paper for the Bank of England, after which uses then changed to flour-making, supplying electricity and in the 1950s as a fish farm. The Nabarros set about sympathetically renovating the original house to respect the continuity of the mill buildings. A devastating fire in 2018 has meant a long process again of complete restoration using skilled local craftsmen. At my visit the house had risen from the ashes, with the mill’s completion expected this year, and it will be difficult to see that there had ever been a fire. “We hope to generate electricity as part of our self-sufficiency once the mill’s wheel is restored,” adds Rupert.

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September 2020