Woodland crafts celebrated at county festival

Woodland crafts will be celebrated in grand style at a festival in the grounds of the stunningly beautiful Elvaston Castle this month.

The annual event, now in its 16th year, attracts thousands of visitors and will be packed with traditional and contemporary crafters including makers of chairs, paddles, barrels and hazel hurdles, a wheelwright and even a horse logger.

Among them will be Alistair Hayhurst, from Wirksworth who specialises in fencing, hedge laying and making hurdles; clog maker Jeremy Atkinson, besom maker Malcolm Ward and Peter Wood, a talented chair maker who you can read more about on this website.

You will be able to watch them at work and even have a go yourself.

As well as the demonstrations and exhibitions there will be plenty of stalls selling crafts and interesting food stalls – one will be specialising in wild food and foraging.

While you are at the festival you will also have the chance to look around the country park.

At the heart of the estate lies Elvaston Castle, a gothic revival masterpiece (sadly not open to the public) designed by James Wyatt in the early 1800s based on the original house dating back to 1633.

Wyatt’s design, built for the third Earl of Harrington, became home to the Stanhope family until the estate was sold by the then Earl of Harrington to Derbyshire County Council in 1968.

In 1970 the estate was opened as one of the first country parks in England and today both the buildings and gardens are registered as being of special architectural and historical interest.

Of special interest are the golden gates, the Moorish temple and the ha ha wall. The gates are reputed to have been removed as spoils of war by Napoleon from a Royal Palace in Madrid and taken by him to Versailles for display. It was after Napoleon’s defeat in 1819 that the third Earl had them shipped to England.

The gardens are locally renowned for their rockwork structures and fine examples of topiary, originally introduced and designed by William Barron in the 19th Century.

The Woodland Festival is on from 10am-5pm on September 24 and 25.  There is a special event parking charge of £8 and you can only pay by cash. n For more information go to http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/woodlandfestival where you can download a voucher to get £1 off your parking.