August 10 2011
Something interesting has happened to the Highgrove website. I used to use this site to buy tasteful, quirky gifts for elderly relatives who appreciate quality – the artistically turned wooden tool for making newspaper seedling pots (£14.95) comes to mind (in fact, I liked these so much, I bought one for myself). But recently I’ve noticed that the design bar has been raised; as the ranges have been expanded, the designs have become more imaginative, less traditional, so that now I find items that I or any of my friends would be proud to own.
I especially like the stories and connections that come with each of them, from dusky perfumed soaps (first picture, £7.95) that resulted from the Prince of Wales’s visit to a Lebanese soap factory to porcelain decorated with delightful depictions of Highgrove’s hens or plants in its garden.
The latest in this line is the best so far. Flora and Fauna tea-time china (second picture) features recognisable plants and beautifully painted insects, each following its own joyful, dotted flight path, from Highgrove’s wildflower garden. There is even a butterfly inside my milk jug (£22.50), another in the lid of the teapot (£35). Painted by local artist Julia Davey, each item has a trim in blue, green or purple to mix or match – colours that go with the site’s notebooks, and the whole ensemble has smartened up my breakfast room no end.
There are of course three “actual” Highgrove shops – in Bath, Tetbury, and at Fortnum & Mason in London – but the website is the best place to browse the full range of products. As you’d expect from a website nominally headed by the Prince of Wales, I have never bought anything from the site that wasn’t at least as attractive as it looked online or that did not arrive, beautifully packaged, exactly when I had been led to expect it – usually very quickly. And as all profits go to the Prince’s Trust charities, this is shopping with a clear conscience.