A festival of Christmas magic

Historic Rougham Estate with its jewel in the crown, Blackthorpe Barn, makes the most of the festive season with a packed calendar that leaves every day feeling like Christmas.

Published in Suffolk Director Magazine Winter 2023|24

Festive Celebrations: Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham

At Blackthorpe Barn, it’s easy to feel that all your Christmases have come at once.

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Nestled in woodland on the beautiful 3,000-acre Rougham Estate, just outside Bury St Edmunds, this fabulous destination offers everything you could possibly want to get into the festive spirit over the course of two months leading up to the big day. From its charming Christmas shop and dedicated weekends celebrating some of the best arts and crafts from across the country, to seasonal creative workshops run by experts and picking your own living Nordmann Fir tree to take home, Blackthorpe sprinkles magical sparkle at every turn.

The timber framed, thatched Blackthorpe Barn (built circa 1550) and Rougham Estate, which can trace its history back to Roman times, have been owned by the Agnew family since 1904. For joint owner, George Agnew, Christmases past and present have been a joy to behold.

“I can’t wait to open the doors again this year – it’s another enchanting setting ready for visitors to get into the festive spirit and find that special, unique gift for their loved ones, or just soak up the festive magic which really gets them feeling like Christmas has begun,” he says.

“This year, I’m pleased to say that we have new arts and craft makers showcasing their creations, too, and they will be excited to share their passion and inspiration behind their pieces. I look forward to welcoming visitors old and new.”

Country Christmas Shop

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Offering everything from elegant Christmas decorations that will elevate your home decor to extra special gifts for loved ones, the Country Christmas Shop is open Monday to Sunday all the way up until Friday 22 December for those last-minute purchases.

Here you will be spoilt for choice with a wide array of decorations in every colour, shape and size to create the wow factor, aromatics to stimulate the senses and infuse your interiors with delicate fragrance and cosy ambience, and stunning Christmas wreaths that add the perfect traditional centrepiece to any door or mantlepiece.

If you’re looking to add a serious dose of glamour and decadence to your home during the entertaining season, there are sumptuous lifestyle accessories that will ensure you are the host with the most.

Arts & Crafts Weekends

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Spanning six whole weekends from the start of November, the venue’s Arts & Crafts Weekends will provide a fantastic opportunity to buy one-of-a-kind, high-quality gifts and decorative pieces crafted by skilled artists, who will be on hand to explain the passion and inspiration behind their unique pieces.

This year will provide a platform for many new makers to showcase their wonderful wares, including artisan metal work and sculptures, ceramics, kiln-formed glass, sculptural and fashion textiles, fine art, illustrations, paintings, leather goods, health and natural beauty products, and indulgent tasty treats.

Each weekend will see a change of exhibitors, so that there will always be a fresh display of products to discover and explore on each visit.

Choose a Christmas Tree with Pedigree

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Regularly gracing the grounds of 10 Downing Street and bringing their natural splendour to Bury St Edmunds town centre, Christmas is not complete without a Rougham Estate tree.

Renowned for their quality and longevity, visitors will be able to choose a living Nordmann Fir growing on plantations close to Blackthorpe Barn to give your Christmas décor the authentic, beautiful star attraction it deserves.

Over two weekends, 11-12 November and 18-19 November, you can pick your very own tree to collect from 25 November after it has been freshly hand-hewn especially for you. Smaller pot-grown trees in many shapes and sizes will also be available, and each tree comes with a dedicated care guide to keep it in tip-top condition throughout the festive period.

Creative Workshops

If you want to take a break from the fast-paced world or encourage a youngster to put down their smartphone, there will be a host of creative workshops to hone the traditional skills of yesteryear.

Under the expert guidance of talented artists and craftspeople, learn how to make a decorative wreath, a festive table decoration, a Christmas fairy, or a bird feeder using heritage craft willow techniques.

Roots Café

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New for 2023, the Roots Café offers a stunning space to relax, recharge and refuel with tasty treats and refreshments on offer.

Reflecting the architecture of the adjoining traditional building with new roof timbers, bifold doors and underfloor heating, the café has been years in the planning and is finally here, linking up with the Country Christmas Shop and historic thatched barn to bring everything under one roof.

Open all year round, the menu will offer something for everyone with plenty of choice for vegetarians, vegans and those with special dietary requirements.

Blackthorpe Barn is located just three miles east of Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, off the A14 at junction 45 (Sat Nav. IP30 9HZ). Parking and disabled access parking is free next to the Barn, with spaces for up to 380 vehicles.

For more information and opening times, see www.blackthorpebarn.com              

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