Kentwell's two major autumn and winter events couldn't be more different....
Sell out Scaresville
Scaresville 2012, our annual frightfest, was a fantastic experience for all involved and record-breaking in a number of ways.
First, and rather unfortunately, we had a record amount of rain over the Scareville period. Which meant the ground became a mudbath and had to be covered in woodchips every day to try and soak up the water, scarers and guests were contending with the wet and cold and our costumes were filthy at the end of each night. This required a very late night washing machine marathon to get them ready for the following day.
But despite the rain and mud we sold out almost every single timeslot with more visitors to Scaresville than ever before. These Scaresville visitors are a hardy lot! Come cold, come rain our visitors kept on coming. Some well prepared with welly boots and rain jackets others in full-on fancy dress with enough energy to keep the cold out.
And this year we had over 150 scarers. Almost doubling our last year’s total of 86. We really enjoyed welcoming so many new faces to the Kentwell volunteer family. And we give a hearty salute to all our scarers for their enthusiasm in getting scares and laughs whatever challenges the weather or moonlit nights threw at them. We look forward to seeing many of you back again next year.
We already have our thinking hats on to try and make Scaresville 2013 the best yet….
Looking forward to Christmas
Many bemoan the fact that Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year. For events organisers like Kentwell it starts way back when the sun is still shining and most people are going on summer holiday. But it is November when the plans start becoming reality. So our minds are now well and truly on making our Dickensian Christmas event a truly magical one.
This year, as well as our old time music hall, Dickens’ readings, Victorian family and servants, Christmas making activities, carol singing and Father Christmas we are adding a good ol’ Dickensian pub: a place for a singsong, roasting chestnuts and warming up round the fire.
We will also have a spookily realistic Victorian Street scene. What might we conjure up there?
Visitors like the event for its interactive nature, timeless traditional fun and lack of commercialism. No tinsel or tacky lights in sight. Just a glimpse of what Christmas used to be.
A Dickensian Christmas is open from Sat 15th to Sat 22nd December. Tickets are now on sale at advance discounted prices. You may also pre-book luncheon or afternoon tea or join our Christmas wreath making workshop.
By popular demand we have now added one final Scare Academy date: Sunday 7th October from 5 to 7.30pm. This is your last chance to come join our dynamic volunteer Scream Team for Scaresville 2012.
You must be over 18, able to complete at least three nights scaring and be able to attend our dress rehearsal on 11th October to apply.
If you are interested please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you an application form and more information.
Come on, you know you want to! It's frightfully good fun!
Apologies, but this event has now been postponed. We hope it will now take place in 2013, please continue to check our website in the new year for more details.
Inspired by this summer of sport we have decided to hold Kentwell's own sporting endeavour. Competitors will run over tracks and through woods, around the beautiful Kentwell estate.
For all the family
This event is open to all the family. With prizes available for the fastest male, female and child in each race (Under 18s must be accompanied by a guardian).
The runs are for all levels of ability, from seasoned runners looking for an interesting course to those new to running races.
We will have three races - the 5k Jog, the Estate 10k and the short and sweet Avenue Dash a 1k race from one end of Kentwell's ancient lime avenue to the other.
Unfortunately we have had to postpone this event. Apologies to those competitors hoping to take part. We hope to hold it in Spring 2013 instead and will announce any new date on this website and facebook.
Are you ready for Scaresville: The Haunted Village 2012?
Set to be the most terrorific year yet, Scaresville, one of Britain's Top Scare Attractions, and previous winner of the prestigious Screamie Awards, will be taking place at Kentwell on selected dates between 12 October and 3rd November.
Ticket sales opened today at an advance discounted rate. Book early to secure your favourite timeslot and dates.
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Due to the adverse weather, which has affected so many of our outside events this year, we have sadly decided to cancel this year's Glenn Miller Concert.
We are very disappointed to do this after so many years of excellent Glenn Miller Concerts but it is difficult to fight the weather. We feel that in the interests of those who have booked that we need to make this decision as early as possible. Refunds will be arranged automatically for all those that have booked tickets.
Our open air theatre events will take place as planned and benefit from under-cover seating (for those that have booked that option).
Back in time 450 years
Kentwell 1556 was another very successful Re-Creation of Tudor Life at Kentwell. The main theme of the year was the religious turmoil created by Queen Mary's return to Romish ways which resulted in several burnings of 'heretics' in Suffolk and Essex.
We were able to represent these differences (difficult to envisage these days) with secret Protestant enclaves and a keen Papist anxious to root out all Puritans and enlisting the help of visiting schoolchildren to do so. One day his efforts met with rich reward when our Polish Cook and his Polish assistant creeping in under cloaks to reach the kitchens were 'arrested' by a party of schoolchildren as suspicious and marched before the Popish priest.
There were strong weekend activities involving all the Tudors each weekend: Midsummer Celebrations, a Pageant and a very successful Fayre over the last weekend. These were noisy occasions preceded by loud flag-waving processions. The Fayre activities raised nearly £1,000 for a local Hospice.
Shakespeare under the stars
Next we look forward to hosting the GB Theatre Company, touring Shakespeare, to perform The Tempest (July 21 & 22) and The Taming of the Shrew (22 July). Both productions have been highly praised at other venues earlier in the Tour. It is high quality playing in Kentwell's lovely setting. Both plays offer rich comedy moments in very different ways. And both have the option of under-cover seating for those worried about our recent inclement weather.
And turning the clock back again
After which its back to Re-Creations, starting with a Victorian Garden Party (on 4/5 August) and the fun which is our High Summer Tudor Re-Creation over the August Bank Holiday weekend (24-27 August) followed a month later by our Michaelmas Tudor Re-Creation (29-30 September).
Bookings open 1st August for Autumn/Winter events
Also on 1st August we open bookings for two of our main events of the year. The first is Scaresville (which runs most nights from 12 Oct to 4 Nov) and has good claims to be the best, most stimulating, original and enjoyable scare attraction in the region.
The second is A Dickensian Christmas (15 - 22 Dec) which takes the Hall back to the Victorian era to show Christmastime as it was before the festival was destroyed by endless commercialism.
We are now two weeks into our Re-Creation of Tudor Kentwell 1556, and this year has proved to be one of our most energetic and entertaining Re-Creations yet.
As well as 250 plus Tudors going about their everyday life, we are holding different events on each of our main weekends. So far, we've held Midsummer Celebrations and a Pageant, and on our last weekend (Fri 6th to Sun 8th July) we will hold a Tudor Fair with lots of games, music and entertainment to take part in. Discounted advance tickets are available online. This will be the last chance to visit Tudor Kentwell 1556 so don't miss out!
We held a fantastic celebration of Midsummer up at the barns over the traditional days of Midsummer Eve (24th June) and Midsummer Day (25th June) which were joyous days in the Tudor Calendar. This involved lots of wicker and fire, drumming and dancing. We had a procession via the Magic Hornbeam Circle which stands on the compass points (very important), via the Well (casting good luck charms on water was propitious) up to the Oak circle at the Barns where the Nine Sacred Saxon Simples (herbs) were cast on the fire. Visitors could throw their own pine-cone into the fire with a wish attached and joined in to help our dancing celebrations really take off!
The Protestants had sought to ban these festivities but the advent of Mary revived them for a time, but by the early 17th Century all such fun had been banned (including Christmas, MayDay and Theatres). Burning of bonfires (actually bone fires) was a centrepiece as this represented the Son and to keep witches and dragons away (both believed to be abroad on these days). We burnt three fires one of bones one of wood called a Wake Fire which had to burn through the night for those awake and one of mixed bone and wood for St John's Day, a Christian attempt to subsume Midsummer into A Christian celebration. The wicker man originally contained a malefactor who was burnt alive but it became more symbolic of burning evil.
Last weekend we held a 're-creation within a re-creation'. Our Tudors re-created the Battle of Agincourt to celebrate the betrothal of the Dowager widow of the house to a local Sudbury man. Our 'tourney field' was full of swordfights, archery, horses, the evil French (boo hiss!) represented ably by children on hobby horses and triumphant English knights (huzzah!).
Most families were anxious to have a widow re-marry at the earliest moment, sometimes within a few weeks of the death of her late husband or they would have to support her. We had a great Procession conveying the widow to the meeting point with her betrothed. Gentry sang a composition written for the occasion and danced; the Herald declaimed a sonnet for the happy couple and peasants danced and sang for them too. The Battle of Agincourt was a popular theme in Tudor times because although the French outnumbered the English by about 10:1, the English prevailed!
We've had some fantastic reviews for our 2012 event from the public and school children alike. You can see a few on tripadvisor here. Here are extracts from a couple of them:
"If you want a fabulous day out, and I mean a whole day because this place deserves a whole day, look no further than Kentwell Hall. The fascinating thing about Kentwell is that the Hall's inhabitants LIVE !! Once through the time tunnel there is NO escape back into the 21st Century, cameras,mobile phones, cars, coaches are just not recognised and you soon find yourself slipping into Tudor speech- it's a wonderful day out and I have never found ANYWHERE here or abroad to beat it."
"Visited on the Tudor day. And all I can say is it was amazing!!! You have to go to experience it."
"Each time I come here I get hit by the smells of the old world and my heart skips a beat."
"The best day of our holiday."
We also received this lovely email this morning:
"I have been visiting the summer Tudor re-enactments ...for the last six years...I visited this Saturday for the Pageant and had the most fantastic day yet. All the Tudors without exception were engaged, friendly and made the visitors feel involved and welcomed. The betrothal and Battle of Agincourt just made the day – the oohs and aahs of visitors around me was really noticeable. There was so much more going on all around the manor and everyone was very involved. A definite 10 out of 10 – please pass on my congratulations and thanks to all those whose huge efforts made for a very memorable experience!"
Passing secret messages
We've had a few thousand school children through our gate so far. See a review of their visit by a local school.
As well as taking part in various Tudor activities children got involved with the religious complications of the day. The children were used to convey secret messages about the Manor (and to learn how messages were written in code and hidden in barrels) to enable secret meetings of Protestants. Whilst others worked with the local Priest to report suspicious happenings.
We celebrated the jubilee in true old-fashioned glory this weekend. And from the 1940s we now roll back another four hundred years for three weeks from 17th June for the ultimate experiential event that is Tudor Kentwell.
A beacon shining in the dark
We lit our beacon on Monday evening, as an unofficial contribution to the wave of beacons for the Queen's Jubilee. We tried to keep to the timings for "private beacons" of 10.26pm but though we started lightlng it on time, we finished lighting it about an hour later. A great advert for why straw houses aren't in danger of burning down!
We were treated to a fantastic firework display over Lavenham via a very handy gap between the trees while we waited. The harvest moon was full behind the avenue and we watched the beacon splutter into life as no doubt hundreds were doing across the country. Standing there in the dark, a glass of champagne in hand, with a small group of the Kentwell team, was an understated but magical moment.
Tripping the light fantastic and splatting the rat
Our annual 1940s event brought some energetic (learning the charleston) and less energetic (waltzes and foxtrots) dancing at our tea-dance and testing of rat-splatting, ball-rolling and other lesser-known skills at our fete. Visitors learned how to make cakes without egg in our wartime kitchen and about the difficulties of life in wartime when soldiers requisition your home. Educational sure, but most of all lots of fun.
Tipping our mad-hats to the Queen
On Tuesday we rolled out the bunting, plenty of colourful home-made hats, lashings of tea, cakes and sandwiches and a huge dollop of crazy traditional games for our Jubilee Mad Hatter's Tea Party for children of all sizes. We were extremely lucky with the weather, after having decided to risk the entire event being outside we were blessed to not have a single drop of rain until just after the last bunting line was packed away! It was also great to have live music from a barrel organ and accordian, courtesy of a group of amateur organ makers stationed in Lavenham for the weekend. They enjoyed playing to people having such fun and we enjoyed the perfect three-legged egg-and-spoon and pass-the-parcel racing music!
Rolling back the years
We shortly go back in time another four hundred years for the start of our huge Tudor Kentwell event, with around 250 Tudors living and breathing Tudor England with all its associated activities. This year we will be going back to 1556 and will have special events happening each weekend throughout the duration. On the first full weekend (23rd and 24th June) see the Tudors celebrate midsummer with the burning of a wicker man. The second weekend (30 June-1st July) will hold a Pageant; expect lots of flags, floats and pagentry. The last weekend (Friday 6th-8th July) sees a Tudor Fair with games, challenges, plays, performances, music and dancing.
Summer is finally arriving at Kentwell. I write this with glorious sunshine streaming through the window and the bright blue sky against Kentwell's mellow red bricks makes a perfect juxtaposition of colours.
Outside, with the church behind them, are our Longhorn cattle slowly chewing the cud in buttercupped fields. A picture of rural peace. The grass is now starting to grow around them but it will be a late haying this year.
Tiny feet on the farm
On the farm, the patter of tiny feet can be heard all around, as well as the odd crash as the piglets exploring the farmyard knock over the feedbins! The lambs are now all old enough to form a small gang racing round the fields in excitement and jumping off logs. The chicks are exploring after spending most of their short lives hiding under their mother from the rain and goslings are wandering around the front lawns.
A verdant garden
The garden is alive with the colour green in all its variations, with the delicate fresh green of new leaves dappling in the sun. The cow parsley has grown with all the rain we've had providing a riot of dancing white heads in any slight breeze. The rhubarb is almost waist height and we are loving picking asparagus each day for the freshest of suppers. Other fruit and vegetables are slowly on their way. Flowers are arriving, we still have some apple blossom out and they are being joined by pulmonary, pennyroyal and lilies.
Busy times ahead
After what seems like an endless hibernation over winter, now is the time that Kentwell starts getting really busy and activities abound. We celebrate wool in all its forms this weekend. From the shearing of our sheep to all the stages it goes through until it is cloth. Then hard on its heels is the Jubilee weekend where we will have a good old 1940s fete, tea-dance and streetparty. Shortly after that our huge Tudor Kentwell event starts, with around 250 Tudors living and breathing Tudor England with all its associated activities. This year we will be going back to 1556 and will have special events happening each weekend throughout the duration.