The first Christmas market at The George at Nunney has been hailed a success, after almost 1000 people visited the event at the weekend.
The Nunney Christmas Market took place over two days in a large tent that covered the entire courtyard garden behind the award-winning country inn. The marquee was supplied by Nunney-based firm South West Marquees.
With atmospheric lighting by Mark Hedges and festive decorations by Jill and David Golby the venue had been transformed into a magical indoor market. It was the first time that a Christmas market on this scale took place in Nunney – and a gamble for owner Gordon Hedges of The George.
The 18 stallholders who had signed up for this inaugural Christmas market included several local firms: hand-printed fabrics and gift items from Whinberry & Antler, foods and vinegars from catering firm Events Horizon, wooden objects and furniture from Paul Cooper and Christmas wreaths and table decorations from Leigh-on-Mendip based event florists Flowers of the Hesperides.
Other stalls sold everything from cosmetics, dog treats and preserves to Christmas cards, children’s toys and clothing, books and other gift items, cheese, patés and chocolates. The George‘s own team ensured that there were German sausages, burgers, hot chocolate and mulled wine throughout the weekend.
Live performances were organised by Salutemus, the firm run by Nunney resident Paul Dowbekin that specialises in providing live music for all occasions.
The music on Saturday 14 December included virtuoso tunes on the violin by Joel Grainger and carol singing from the Phoenix Consort.
John Webb and his fellow Phoenix Consort carol singers raised £50 for the homeless charity Shelter during their set.
On Sunday visitors were treated to Christmas music from the Sykes Brass Quartet. They were later joined in a surprise performance by the award-winning Noctis Chamber Choir, directed by Francis Faux, fresh from their Raise the Roof concert in Nunney Church that afternoon.
Jeremy Gaunt organised Nunney Christmas Market for The George at Nunney. In a different capacity, he also runs Nunney Street Market and Fayre, which earlier this year attracted nearly 10,000 visitors before being rained off.
He said, “I decided that I wanted to organise a Christmas market the day after Nunney Fayre was over. We had no idea how many people to expect and whether any stallholders would want to come, given the competition from other events at this time of year.”
“Obviously, it also takes time for an event like this to build up a reputation. The very first Nunney Street Fayre attracted 37 cars in 1975. It’s a success that has taken many people decades of hard work. So I’m quite happy with the turnout this weekend; after all, this is a new and much smaller event.”
Asked how the organisation of the two events compared, Jeremy said, “We always have a few stallholders who have to pull out at the last moment for personal reasons. When you have 150 stalls that impacts far less than with a smaller event like the Christmas market.”
Stallholders were unanimous in their praise for the organisation of the event. Keren Hayden of Events Horizon said: “The place looked amazing! It’s always tricky getting people through the door for Christmas markets. We and the village hall committee ran one for the last few years in the hall and the attendance always differed.”
Paul Cooper added, “After tallying up we did nearly as well there as we usually do at the Street Fayre. We have done a few Christmas markets but I must say that this one was probably the best, in that the setting was truly beautiful – especially after dark.”
“The musical entertainment gave it a wonderful atmosphere. It’s been a few years since I’ve heard a brass band at Christmas and l will admit to feeling very nostalgic. The violinist was exceptional and we had a good sing song with the choirs. As you can probably tell, we loved it and hope it becomes a regular Nunney event.”
Gordon Hedges described the turnout as “excellent”, adding, “We’d like to say a big thanks to everyone involved in the first annual Nunney Christmas Market last weekend – visitors and participants. A special thanks goes to Jeremy and Adrie at Visit Nunney, who gave so much of their time to make sure it was a success.”
“We also thank all the stall holders who participated, given it was the first time such an event was put together. We’re very pleased that all of you were very happy with the result and will return next year. The stalls looked great!”
He emphasised that the event had also proved an excellent showcase for what can be achieved in the walled garden at The George. “We have already had enquiries for weddings and other functions. All in all it was a big success and we are already planning Nunney Christmas Market 2014!”