Larmer Tree Christmas Fayre | Lifestyle

This weekend, after purchasing our Christmas tree from Moors Valley, we thought we’d continue the festivities and paid a visit to the Christmas Fayre at The Larmer Tree Gardens in Tollard Royal. The Gardens sit on the border between Dorset and Wiltshire, and are something of a hidden gem. Ben has a connection to the family who owned the estate, so there’s somewhat of a vested interest (as well as the fact that the leading three day event rider, William Fox-Pitt, also has family ties to the estate) although I do feel we’d still be as enchanted by its charm even if we didn’t know the backstory. Best known these days for the annual Larmer Tree Festival held every July – which we were lucky enough to be given day tickets to two years ago (and I want to go back next year!) – the gardens are actually only open from Sunday-Thursday between March & September, so the Christmas Fayre was a one-off opportunity to see the gardens in the throes of winter.

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A little nugget of info that I hadn’t realised until I sat down to research this blog post was that the Larmer Tree was the first private gardens opened for public enjoyment in the UK, way back in 1880 when Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers inherited the Rushmore Estate. Pitt Rivers spent years making the gardens what they are today, and structures – such as the Nepalese Room and the Colonial style pavilion pictured below – appear at sporadic intervals between beautifully manicured lawns and broad-leaved woodlands. The wooded areas are mesmerising – it’s clear a lot of time has been invested in intertwining the many trunks and branches to create an almost-hypnotic effect.

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I also didn’t know that in the summer, picnics are encouraged with free use of the deckchairs, croquet equipment and open air music on some Sunday afternoons!

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Onwards to the Fayre, which to my mind was pitched just right – about two dozen stalls all under cover in the beautiful Pavilion (a fascinating building which blends new and old architecture perfectly) – with a choir outside, complimentary mulled wine and Grounded Coffee Co, who sell freshly ground coffee from the back of their converted Defender (the dog was quite cute, too!).

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The stalls had clearly been carefully chosen to fit in with the surroundings, and as such was a treasure trove of rustic Christmassy goodness. After much deliberation – I could have bought it all! – I finally settled on a dried wreath, in beautiful pale greens and oranges.

We left with lighter wallets and warm bellies and went in search of some sustenance – unfortunately we hadn’t booked anywhere so weren’t able to get into our favourite pub, but if you’re paying a visit to the Larmer Tree and are feeling peckish, I can highly recommend The Museum Inn in nearby Farnham for both ambience and fantastic food. We ate there about a month ago and the seabass was incredible!

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The Larmer Tree is open between March and September, Sun-Thurs, and the Festival runs for five days every July – tickets are on sale now.

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