We’re baaaa-rmy about these shepherd’s huts!
Need an extra bedroom? Want a design studio out back? What about a garden bar? Or even just a snug to get away from it all on an evening? Well, look no further…
Ok, so jokes might not be my forte but when I happened across this local company, Henley Hut Co., that makes – from scratch – beautiful, high-end shepherd’s huts, I was struck by just how useful having that extra space would be and precisely how you could put your very own bespoke hut to use.
Shepherds’ huts, as you will know, came into being to allow herdsmen to follow their sheep across heath and moor, while also squeezing an iota of comfort out of a night in the wild. Then came indoor plumbing, electricity, industrialisation and er… quad bikes, and these quaint little structures became obsolete, dilapidated lumps, slowly sinking into the countryside. Or so my memory serves.
But these huts … they’re a romantic’s dream. With handmade steps to pull in and out of the door, log burners in the corner, well, it’s the sort of thing us rural cosmopolitans had in mind when we packed up our Balham flat and decamped beyond the M25. “Oooh and we could have a little cabin in the garden with window boxes,” we joyfully cooed to our partners, while following the removal van on the M40. “The children can have sleepovers outside without a 24-hour rave going on next door! In the winter I’ll use it to write my Great American Novel!” And lo, seven years later, the nearest we’ve got to a bolthole in the garden is a budget cold frame from Aldi.
But maybe now – with the working world upturned and our domestic lives in sharp focus – is the time to invest? Not convinced? Well, let me argue my case.
They’ve got endless commercial possibilities
Lockdown has meant that side hustles have never been more pertinent. Will we ever go back to the office full time? Will our skillset become completely useless in a post-pandemic world? Who knows? But we’ve certainly had a lot of time to think about what we’d do otherwise, be that become a potter, teach yoga or plan a YouTube career as an influencer. (They seem to have fun, right?) But where to unleash these fledgling ambitions in a house that is full to the brim with child detritus? That’s right: the luxe shepherd’s hut in the garden. Henley Hut Co.’s Berkshire model (starting from £21k) is super flexible and can be designed to your exact specification, such as needing underfloor heating for a yoga studio or perhaps just an in-built desk and cabinets for your solo office. Similarly, the bigger models – such as the Oxfordshire (from £49K) – are replete with kitchen and bathroom and full heating and insulation, so they can essentially work as a spare bedroom or an AirBnB if you want to tap into the gig economy.
They are designed to move
Moving house is expensive. Extensions are expensive. Cripes, LIFE is expensive. But… if you need to pack up and move across the country for whatever reason, a shepherd’s hut is an investment that can go with you.
They are created to your personal spec (and budget!)
The founders of Henley Hut Co. – Drew and Sophie Williams – have a wealth of experience in project management, carpentry and design plus a workforce of master craftsmen and machinery at their fingertips, thanks to their pre-pandemic work in event and exhibition design. So if you need something built to reflect your lifestyle and needs, they’re your guys. Every individual hut only begins to take shape after an in-depth consultation and once the blueprint is agreed, the company works to a 12-week delivery schedule to provide you with a beautiful, completely finished article.
They don’t need planning
This is a big one, especially if you are weighing up the pros and cons of an extension. On account of them being mobile, the shepherd hut is considered temporary accommodation and therefore doesn’t require a lengthy to and fro with the planning office – or the inevitable pass-agg emails with the neighbours. So if your builder has given you a heart-stopping quote for a two-storey extension for that longed-for extra bedroom, you might want to have a rethink. Similarly, if you quite fancy an extension but can’t bear the thought of moving into a shabby let for six months, buying a hut and having a luxury glamp for half a year might make it all the more bearable.
They’ll last generations – and make amazing memories
“Can you remember that summer we stayed in granny’s garden hut?” “Ah, yeah, the best summer of our lives.” Imagine your grandchildren reminiscing like this at your 90th birthday party (you look great, by the way). Such is the craftsmanship of these huts, they will stay in the family for years and have the potential to provide so much joy – from stargazing on the steps midsummer to ghost stories around the log burner come halloween. Summer holidays will become a bucolic reverie, even when it’s smashing it down outside. And maybe you will plant those window boxes. And maybe the children will have outside sleepovers and maybe, just maybe, that Great American Novel will materialise, after all.