The New Forest, has no great history of cheese making, unlike the West Country. Traditionally, in the last 100 years, the milk from Hampshire, has always travelled eastwards to the large conurbations of Southampton and London, to be sold as bottled milk. Historically records show that cheese, will have been made by the Cistercian Monks at Beaulieu and other Monasteries, back in the 1200’s. Cheese will also have been made on the various farmsteads in the last 500 years, particularly those farms that are named ‘White House Farm’ as they will certainly have had connections with cheese. The manors of Winchester, of which this area was part, including Downton, indicate that cheese was made locally, but not in large commercial quantities. For the valley of the Blackwater, and Lyburn Farm, cheese making is a relatively new venture set up to address the needs of a changing market place.
In 1952 our family bought and moved to a small 50 acre farm called Little Buckholt, close to the village of West Tytherley, in Hampshire. Starting with 3 Gurnsey cows, Faith, Hope and Beatrix, we will have milked cows, twice a day, every day since that year, 3 generations and spanning more than 60 years. In 1969 we took on Lyburn Farm, starting with about 270 acres and 200 cows.
Straddling the small river Blackwater, Lyburn Farm has been farmed by the Smales family, Mike, Judy and their son Jonathon, for the last 40 years. The river Blackwater rises on some of the high ground of the forest and as the heather and gorse gives way, to the old ancient oak forest, home of the fallow deer, the countryside falls away sharply towards the north. In the bottom of the valley you will find the Hamptworth estate, of which Lyburn farm is part.
The name Lyburn, is in fact quite unique, it is derived from the Scottish, lye ‘born’, and burn ‘river’, ‘borne by the river’, and with the Blackwater on either side we certainly are.