Barton: All manor of shops
Stars and Stripes May 7, 2008
BARTON — A few miles from the cookie-cutter franchise stores of Cambridge sits a shopping center that’s all about being independent.
Situated on a working organic farm in the English countryside, Burwash Manor offers a distinct shopping experience with 16 independent shops, from tea rooms, to ones selling clothing and gifts to fresh produce and meats.
I know what you’re thinking. The city center of Cambridge is a much better place to shop, especially with the recent opening of the Grand Arcade shopping center. But do they have live chickens roaming around the area? The answer is no. At least, I hope not.
At the manor, there’s a whole flock of chickens walking and clucking about freely. Plus, there’s a petting zoo with a calf and lambs, and you can pet a few pudgy rabbits in cages nearby. There is even a children’s play area at the manor for those parents tugging along youngsters.
All that can be worth a trip to the countryside. However, the manor’s main staple is its array of shops located in two courtyards. They sell Persian rugs, toys, jewelry, wine and vintage furniture.
Matt Brown and his sister, Kathryn, sell vintage goods in a shop called Nest. They’ve run the shop for about three years at the manor, which he believes has a unique setting.
“You can buy things you can’t buy anywhere else,” he said of the manor. “We try to avoid chains and mass production.”
One of the biggest differences between the autonomous shops and franchises is the friendliness of shop workers.
“They can come in and just chat,” he said of potential customers.
Shop owners also typically work in their shops, which builds on that service. “They’re quite passionate about what they do,” Brown said.
Another plus for the manor compared to the city center is that there’s plenty of free parking. And there are no big crowds to compete with.
“It’s away from the hustle and bustle,” Brown said.
His wife, Ruth, who was in his shop tending the cash register, added: “It’s a breath of fresh air away from the city.”
Getting thereLocation: Burwash Manor, New Road, Barton, Cambridge, CB3 7BD. The manor is just off exit 12 of the M11 motorway along A603 highway heading west. After a few minutes, look for a sign for the manor to the right and follow the other signs in.
What’s there: Sixteen independent shops on a working organic farm that sell a variety of items, such as clothing, gifts, home furnishings and fresh produce and meats. There is also a petting zoo with a baby cow and lambs.
Hours: Shops are typically open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Each store has different hours, so before heading out be sure to check out the manor’s Web site, www.burwashmanor.net.