Pasteurised fresh milk presented in an elegant bottle adorned with the face of a Guernsey cow (perhaps the cow that produced the milk, (I doubt it, but it’s a nice thought)), now that’s my kind of bottle. And, what’s not to like about the bottle or indeed Gorse Farm itself? Sat on the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, a stone’s throw away from the market town of Farringdon, Gorse Farm is surrounded by beautiful countryside on all sides. When I visited in springtime to collect my bottle of chocolate flavoured milk from the vending machine, the daffodils were bobbing their heads to the beat of a warm, gentle breeze. At the same time, a pair of buzzards circled high overhead in a cloudless blue sky, their wings outstretched and still, carried by an invisible uplifting force. Everything about Gorse Farm seems wonderful and peaceful.
A few minutes from the farm, you’ll find the 12th-century church of St Mary’s built by Cistercian Monks of Beaulieu Abbey as a chapel of ease. King John founded Beaulieu Abbey in 1203, and the first Abbot was Hugh, who the King much favoured. Amongst other things, King John granted one-hundred and twenty cows to the Abbey. The Abbey was swept aside during the dissolution of the monasteries along with its daughter Abbeys, Netley Abbey (Hampshire), Hailes Abbey (Gloucestershire), Newenham Abbey (Devon) and St Mary Graces Abbey (London). Still, the Church of St Mary’s survives as a parish church and has fascinating features, including a 13th-century bell-cote, a 15th-century hexagonal font and a Norman doorway. Why not pay St Mary’s a visit while sipping from a bottle of fresh milk?