Christmas in August? It’s always a good time to start planning ahead, and you lucky people of Henley can experience all kinds of handmade jewellery, homewares, clothing and gift ideas at the Henley Country Craft Show over August Bank Holiday.
With over 200 independent stall holders converging over a single weekend for this brilliant shopping event, you can pick up anything from artisan candles to locally-distilled gin and sort your next six months of gifting in one stylish swoop.
Ahhhh, Stonor Park, how we love thee. Just outside Henley, at the base of the Chiltern Hills, surrounded by incredible countryside and snaking vineyards, this 850 year old privately owned estate offers stunning vistas, a fabulous children’s playground Tumbledown Hollow, acres of rolling grounds and a turbulent history that included the Catholic Stonor family creating a priest hole where Sir Edmund Campion hid whilst printing the famous Ten Reasons’ pamphlet in the 1580s.
In case Britain decides to have any rainfall at all before the end of the month, relaxez-vous – there are both massive indoor marquees as well as the outdoor traders. I came a few years back and it is very much an event where you’re invited to talk to the traders, learn more about their work and gain an insight into the pieces themselves. Stalls are hugely varied, selling everything from home accessories, garden ornaments and jewellery to clothing, ceramics, soft furnishings, glassware, art and bespoke gifts. As a self-confessed interiors junkie I’ll be heading first to Bongusto (gorgeous Moroccan rugs) and Papershades (quirky lampshades) but have a look at the list of stall holders here and plot your own course.
SCOFF & QUAFF
There’s an impressive line-up of street food stalls including crowd-pleasers (hot-dogs, burgers, pizza et al.) as well as Greek grub (halloumi, chicken, pork wraps), Oxford’s Horsebox selling its signature coffee and toasties, and plenty of sweet treats including traditional cream tea. There’s also a Prosecco bar – but I’ll be heading straight to The Little Orange Van for an Aperol Spritz (hey, shopping is thirsty work).
FOR THE KIDS
Plenty to keep little ones interested, with live music, falconry display, axe throwing, giant outdoor games and the kind of vintage swingboats and carousel that just beg for Helena Bonham Carter to turn up in full Victorian costume. Of more immediate sugar-rush interest will be the mini 5-minute sessions of chocolate decorating (tip: stay out of range of the icing syringe). Obviously the children’s area of Tumbledown Hollow is a godsend if a meltdown is on the cards, though with 200 exhibitors across everything from art and gardening to jewellery and home accessories, they definitely won’t be bored.
Maybe you’re already a crafter and are chomping at the bit at the chance to create a paper lampshade (new for 2022!) or perfect your calligraphy. Or maybe, like me, you’re inherently lazy but curious, preferring to watch others show you how to do it while you sip a flat white and bat your children away for a few precious minutes. Whichever way the wicker bends (look it up, it’s a technical term), you’ll be sorted with an array of workshops and live demos.
How do I get a ticket?
Head to Instagram to WIN one of two pairs of weekend tickets and food voucher, worth £120. Or, if you don’t want to leave it to Lady Luck? Buy tickets online before 21 August to save 20%. Dogs are allowed, except for the food hall and falconry display area, and parking and under 16s are both freeeee.
Henley Country Craft Show, Stonor Park, 26-29 August 2022, from 10am – 5pm.