As part of a new feature, we’re finding out what the South Downs National Park means to people who live, work and visit here. Lesley Foulkes, of Langham Brewery in West Sussex, talks about her life and why the region is so special to her.
Can you tell us about yourself and what you do in the National Park?
I’m co-owner, together with James Berrow, of Langham Brewery. Langhams is a small independent steam-heated craft microbrewery, based in an 18th granary barn in the South Downs National Park, between Midhurst and Petworth.
Our passion lies in producing innovative, distinctive and flavoursome real ales using the finest quality ingredients, blending modern techniques and practices with traditional craft skills in an environmentally responsible fashion. Both James and I have day jobs, so everything the brewery makes is ploughed into equipment and R&D.
We offer a delicious range of award-winning artisan beers and have won over 45 awards in the last 10 years.
We pride ourselves on being a part of the South Downs National Park and local community, and contribute to a wide variety of local events, such as the Dog Fun Day at Woolbeding Natonal Trust and Secrets of the Heath, Petersfield. Visitors are always welcome to the brewery as part of the South Downs Cyclist and Walkers Scheme and for brewery tours. A number of times a year we host live charity, music and comedy events in aid of local causes, including the South Downs Mend our Way Initiative as well as our infamous annual “Bonkers for Conkers” Championship in aid of Chestnut Tree House and now in its 12th year!
What does the South Downs National Park mean to you?
We love our location at the heart of the South Downs National Park near Midhurst. The views from the brewery are stunning and it’s a pleasure and privilege to work in such a wonderful environment. The beautiful scenery on our doorstep is also an attraction to visitors – we nestle in a dip, just south of Bexley Hill.
As we are close to the South Downs Way our location is also a big plus. We are a member of the South Downs Walkers and Cyclists scheme and a convenient refreshment stop for visitors to the South Downs.
The South Downs National Park offer fabulous opportunities for engagement with numerous activities and there is also a South Downs Food Portal to support small local businesses, such as ours, to put themselves on the map.
We were chuffed to bits to be the first corporate partner of the SDNPA Trust and love celebrating and contributing through our fundraising towards the conservation of the amenities and glorious countryside that surrounds us.
Where’s your favourite place in the National Park and why?
Oooh! That’s difficult! My most treasured experiences are on Butser Hill every Christmas Day with my family. Come rain, snow, fog we venture up for a pre Christmas lunch blustery walk. It is the highest point on the South Downs Chalk ridge and on a clear day there are fabulous views.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been in the National Park that you’d like to go to and why?
I would love to explore Breaky Bottom. Although passionate about our brews, we have been told about a fabulous vineyard there!
What would you like to see in the National Park in the future?
That’s a tough one. The south east is heavily populated with pressures and demands for improved infrastructure for business, transport and affordable housing. The challenge to the SDNPA is tremendous to enable all of the enterprises and communities within its perimeter to flourish and co-exist, while preserving the fabulous environment which we love and cherish. We look forward to collaborating with the SDNP Trust to help this to happen.