Great Dixter opens its doors

Visitors crowd the Great Hall

The 2019 Great Dixter House and Garden Christmas Fair took place in Northiam November 23-24, in very wet and rather dismal weather, which did not affect the stallholders or the many visitors, though it did make car parking difficult for latecomers.

Phoebe Conolly’s stall in the Great Hall

Held in the medieval Great Hall House, built in about 1450, with rooms in the Edwin Lutyens Arts and Crafts designed part of the house, which are not usually seen, open as well, the stalls were many and varied, from Annie Soudain’s wonderful prints, pictures, cards and calendars, Phoebe Connolly’s black and white prints, to the lady with an amazing variety of dachshund hats, book covers, bags, it goes on and on. The house has always had dachshunds living in it since the estate was purchased by Daisy and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1910, and this was a lovely tribute. Good presents, too.

There were herbal teas and tinctures and bamboo socks, in keeping with the sustainable feel. Delicate handmade necklaces, bracelets and rings graced another stall, with cushions and printed fabrics as visitors went into the hall, which had a fire lit in the big inglenook and an enormous decorated Christmas tree reaching to the ceiling.

Jewellery in Yeomans Hall

In the Yeoman’s Hall there were wax candle bundles in lovely colours, beautiful jewellery and scarves and china and hand printed paper products. This room is not normally open to the public and is a sixteenth century hall house in its own right, rescued from a field in Benenden by Nathaniel Lloyd and Edwin Lutyens, to add to the existing Great Hall.

The Great Barn had been pressed into service to display pots and planted troughs, wooden benches and wild forager food, all gathered within a fifteen mile radius, delicious, rather to the surprise of your reporter. Outside, there were willow basket weavers and lots of potted bulbs and Christmas decorations.

Saturday was very busy, in spite of the weather, with a slower start on the Sunday, which was to be expected. All the volunteer helpers were exhausted at the end of the two days, and where would such an event be without the car parkers, the kitchen helpers making and serving the mulled apple juice as people came in, the women in the kiosk admitting visitors and the raffle ticket sellers for the Friends of Great Dixter, to name but a few. Thanks of course go to the wonderful, inventive and creative stall holders who make it all possible. The takings are still a work in progress as this is written.

The Fair will be held over the last weekend in November 2020 and if there is wet weather forecast, wellington boots would mean visitors can get round the garden, nursery and into the Great Barn.



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