A tale of two Christmas fairs
In a bid to locate some festive spirit, a couple of weekends ago I squeezed in visits to two very different Christmas fairs both in beautiful locations.
It was a late, crisp Saturday afternoon when a friend and I meandered through the lanes to Cottesbrooke Christmas fair, this tiny Northamptonshire village really is off the beaten track (although admittedly we did take a wrong turn). Despite being famed for Cottesbrooke Hall and Gardens the village is home to only 144 residents, so it is unsurprising that the community village hall is a modest affair. Built for the Coronation in 1952, the building has a real post war charm and many of the original fixtures and fittings are still intact including these robust mid-century chairs and tables sitting out front. Standing back to take a photo I also noticed this menagerie of chairs stacked to the rear of the hall, what events and celebrations these chairs must have seated people at over the years…
Inside, the atmosphere was warm and festive and there was produce on offer from purveyors of household goods Ancient Industries. Their simple useful products were apt for the location, I particularly love their enduring scissors, sturdy kitchen textiles and fun children’s goods.
Also on show was beautiful work from local artist Annie Shrive, whose nature inspired lino cuts are printed onto fabric for additional vibrance. Annie creates bespoke prints to order and her contact details can be seen in the image below.
In contrast, the next day I took a family trip to the well oiled visitor machine that is Lincoln Christmas market. This four-day event attracts up to 250,000 visitors each year, and is run like clockwork by the thousands of stewards who guide you to and around the event. Our journey began on a park and ride where we claimed the best seats on the double-decker (top front of course) providing a panoramic views across the countryside as the bus wallowed into the city.
On disembarking, we quickly located the fun fair, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and joined the river of people heading for the historic centre passing by the santa hats and candles.
With 250 stalls, it was tricky to fit it all in, but for us, the best part was the calmer medieval market held in the atmospheric grounds and dungeons of Lincoln castle where cloaked men and women sold masks, goblets and herbs. The castle dates back to 1215 and is home to the Lincoln Magna Carta as well as the Charter of the Forest.
Then onto stare in awe at the magnificent gothic cathedral with its many gargoyles and Lincoln Imps, and to the main square where stalls nestle beneath the backdrop of the castle walls.
Finally we found ourselves climbing up and down the cobbled and highly inclined ‘steep lane’ before being kindly stewarded onto the bus home, festive spirit well and truly installed.