Grapevine Stories

Interview with Lady Bamford

Carole Bamford tells us about how Daylesford first came about and how it has evolved over the years. She tells us about plans for the future and their most recent launch of a wellness spa in the London.

Can you share with us a bit about your background and what inspired you to start Daylesford?

It started quite by chance with a couple of encounters that prompted me to learn more about the organic movement. The first was one summer afternoon when I was pushing my new baby in her pram around the garden and noticed that my freshly planted roses were wilting. The farmer next door to us explained to me that they were spraying Roundup, which I learned later is a strong herbicide. Its toxins had been carried by the air into my garden and had caused my roses to wilt. Shortly afterwards, I was at the Royal Agricultural Show and came across a tent run by an organic farmer. He explained to me what being organic meant and how we could raise our animals and grow our crops without pesticides or antibiotics, in a way that was harmonious with nature. That was the moment that really changed things for me, and it planted the seed for Daylesford and for a passion and way of life that I’ve been leading for over 45 years.

For members who haven't been to Daylesford before, how do you best describe it to them and what would you suggest for a perfect day there?

Daylesford began as nothing more than a desire to make a small difference and feed my family in a better way, but over the last 20 years it has grown into a business that today encompasses five farm shops and cafés, a restaurant that’s been awarded a Green Michelin star, a cookery school, cutting garden, home and garden space and many other things besides. 

For me, there is no such thing as the perfect day. Everything we do at Daylesford is led by nature and the seasons, so no two days are the same, which I love. The produce in the farmshop, the plants in the garden space and the menus in our restaurants will always be a reflection of the time of year. I would, however, always encourage ending a visit with a drink in The Legbar. Tucked behind the farm shop, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a botanical cocktail or a glass of my favourite chilled frizzante.

As the founder of Daylesford, what have been the biggest challenges you've faced in building and growing the brand? How did you overcome them?

Managing land this way isn’t always easy. Crops fail and the weather can interfere with your plans.

At the time Daylesford launched I came up against fixed notions of what organic means and many people saw it as an extravagant luxury. But I felt so strongly that farming this way was the right thing to be doing and I persisted along this path. Happily, attitudes have changed since then and there is a wider understanding that what we put into our body is important for our overall health and that many modern farming methods are damaging our soil and jeopardising the future of our food systems. I think people now understand that small changes to shopping habits can make a big difference, even if you are not able to eat organically all the time. 

Daylesford is known for its commitment to organic farming and sustainable practices. Could you tell us more about the philosophy behind the brand and how it has evolved over the years?

My belief that we need to nurture nature and protect and work in harmony with it governs everything that we do at Daylesford; it is the fundamental principle behind every decision I make. 

Daylesford offers a wide range of products and experiences, from organic food and skincare to workshops and wellness retreats. How do you ensure consistency and maintain the brand's essence across such diverse offerings?

Bamford’s wellness offering was a natural progression from Daylesford. After deciding to make conscious decisions about what I was consuming through my food, I wanted to consider other areas of my life in the same way. Our skin is our largest organ, and we ingest so much through it that it made sense to me to look at what I was putting into my body through my skin and create my own natural products that were free of the chemicals I was avoiding in my food. The body care lines grew from there, then came the clothing skincare, spas and retreats.

At the heart of both Bamford, and Daylesford is a belief in living in harmony with nature, respecting and giving back more than you take from the land and nourishing it as best you can. Those principles ensure consistency across every new venture and continue to guide the way that I live and work.

Daylesford has expanded from its origins in the Cotswolds to various locations, including London. What led to the decision to expand, and what have been the key learnings from these expansions?

Expanding was never a conscious decision for me.  We have been fortunate to enjoy growth far beyond our original Kingham farmshop over the last twenty years, but that growth was never part of a grand plan. It has all been very natural and instinctive, driven by what felt right at the time. 

What exciting developments can we expect to see from Daylesford in the near future? Are there any new initiatives, collaborations, or more expansions on the horizon?

We recently launched Daylesford Stays, a group of thoughtfully refurbished cottages and pubs to which visitors can escape, enjoy the natural beauty of the Cotswolds and embrace being surrounded by nature.

From The Wild Rabbit in Kingham and The Fox at Oddington to The Bell at Charlbury and The Three Horseshoes near Burford, each space captures a unique spirit, having been sympathetically restored by local craftspeople to reflect and respect the landscape and community in which they sit. E.

At Bamford, we are excited about the launch of our newest wellness spa at 1 Hotel Mayfair. Both brands share a desire to celebrate the healing qualities of nature, so it is wonderful to see how they have managed to bring this into an urban space and create a truly calming retreat in the heart of London. 

Looking ahead, what is your vision for the future of Daylesford? How do you see the brand evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers?

I have always been driven to innovate, so as we look to the future, both Bamford and Daylesford will continue to embrace technological developments that allow us to push our development processes and become even lighter with our environmental footprint. 

From Bamford’s Stem Cell Serum that was created using biotechnology to the first merino knitwear collection ever produced on British soil, I hope we will continue to inspire change and capture the imaginations of sustainably minded consumers. 

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