February Half Term – Sowing Seeds for Summer

It may still be cold outside but the signs of spring are around in the Almonry garden which is bursting back to life after the winter.

Lots of young visitors braved the cold weather and the effects of  Storm Doris for some seed planting fun during February half term. They followed our Almoners Trail and discovered what he would have used in his medicines then decorated their own plant pots filled with marigold seeds ready for summer! To all those who took part, don’t forget to send us updates of your seedlings via our Twitter and Facebook pages @almonryevesham

Folkily Speaking

Well, what a weekend we had: our first ever Great Big Almonry Folk weekend can be safely said to have been a complete triumph! It’s taken us a while to come back to earth after the incredible performances and audience reactions.

Lisbee 2

Saturday afternoon was completely sold out, filled with amazing performances from Noey McElwee, Road Not Taken, The Wanted Men and Green Diesel who all brought their unique, individual sounds to the Almonry. The rounds of applause were heartfelt and long!

Saturday night we moved to Evesham Arts Centre for the showcase evening of top-notch folk where Lisbee Stainton and Ange Hardy performed their solo sets full of songs that were haunting, fascinating and excellently crafted, proving why they are feted by folk enthusiasts.

Ange Hardy 1

BBC Folk Duo 2014, Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin closed the evening for us with a storming set that blew everyone away (for a surprising one-man-and-his-harmonica performance that will have you holding your breath, see here – turn it up loud) and had the audience up on their feet for a standing ovation!

Phil & Hannah 2

Back bright and early for the Sunday afternoon where Emi McDade (only 18 but with the most incredible voice), Ethemia, Mike Weaver and Patsy Reid entertained our fully booked audience. Patsy Reid and her band (just back off a USA tour where she played Carnegie Hall) closed the weekend for us with a set that mixed incredible vocal and instrumental sets. A standing ovation brought them back on for an encore and proved why she was chosen as one of the acts to close the Commonwealth Games!

Patsy Reid & band

All in all, we were completely in awe of all of the performers, their talent and generosity.

Thank you to everyone who came along, supported the Great Big Almonry Project, clapped, cheered and whooped our acts!

The last in our current series of Almonry Folk events takes place on Sunday 10th May with legendary English singer-songwriter Steve Ashley. Tickets are £10 each and doors open at 7.45pm. Please contact the office on 01386 446944 for more details.

The Great Big Almonry Folk Weekend could not have taken place without the tireless efforts of the following people and organisations: Mike & Jane Weaver, Claire and Peter Costello, Evesham Music, Chris Dobson, Evesham Arts Centre (especially Matt!), and the Evesham Hotel.


A Frosty One

Phew! We think we may just have caught our breath (not to mention caught up with the clear up!) after last Saturday’s incredible Frost Fayre. This was the final event on our fundraising calendar, raising money for the Great Big Almonry Project, and we pulled out all the traditional Fayre stops to make it a success.

Decorating - Copy

 There was much decorating with greenery cut from the Almonry garden (and some brought in on the backs of bicycles by our dedicated staff!), twinkly lights lit up dark corners and the scent of fir, rosemary and pine made the place feel very festive.

Geraldine - Copy  Bridget - Copy  John Cotterell - Copy

  Peruse - Copy  Ruth Putt

Simply Seasonal  Samantha

Our fabulous stallholders arrived and laid out their crafty/scrumptious/ethical goodies! Our huge thanks to Bridget Steel-Jessop (embroidery and papercraft artist), Geraldine O’Mahoney (handmade bears), John Cotterell (wooden gifts), Caroline Price (Peruse Fairtrade), Ruth Putt (upcycled fabric crafts), Hayley and Wendy (Simply Seasonal jams and chutneys), Samantha Priest (handmade cakes and Christmas puddings), and Lyndsey Kent (handmade goats milk soaps).


(photo courtesy of Caroline Price)

We were blessed with dry (eventually) weather and a steady stream of visitors eager to kick-start their Christmas shopping, chance their arm on the tombola and meet, in person, the Winter King (our very grateful thanks to Tim Price for remaining so thoroughly in character all day long!)

The plague rats were thoroughly splatted, the bran tub riffled for spoils and the cakes disappeared almost before we’d even had a chance to grab slices ourselves! The raffle (made up of prizes kindly donated by our stall holders) was a huge success. Congratulations to the three raffle winners, and the winner of the children’s goody bag for the Treasure Hunt!

In fact, the whole day was, thanks to the dedication of staff and volunteers who ensured it all ran smoothly. In the end, it raised over £400 for the Great Big Almonry Project. What a wonderful amount to sign off our fundraising year with!

The Almonry Frost Fayre!

This year the Almonry is holding a craft and gift fayre with a difference, one that harks back to the  days of yore when the Lords of Misrule would lead people in a celebration of the season. From 11am on 22nd November, you are welcomed to the traditionally decorated Almonry by our very own Winter King. Mince Pies and mulled wine will be on offer as you take the opportunity to stroll around the craft stalls, kick-starting your Christmas shopping with some unique and beautiful gifts.

Frost Fayre

Games for children include Splat the Plague Rat, Ye Olde Treasure Hunt and the Fearsome Bran Tub! Adults can try the more sedate tombola and raffle.

While away some time with a slice of homemade cake (or another mince pie) and a cup of tea before taking some time to explore the Almonry, decorated for the season with greenery from our own garden, by flickering candlelight.

Entry to the Almonry and Frost Fayre is free for all ages, and the doors will be open from 11am.

Breaking the Code

We were a-flutter with coded messages on Saturday 1st November, as younger visitors sent secret communications to local pigeon fancier, John Fretwell. David Glover, from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association released six pigeons throughout the day to carry out their brave duties, as they would have done during World War 1.

Pigeons 2

Expert code-breaking help was also on hand with Mike Hart from GCHQ talking to visitors about encryption and decryption over the centuries, and, in particular, during the two World Wars. Exhibits ranged from a World War 1 code book, printed on silk, and, therefore, easier to conceal, to one with lead sewn into its cover to ensure that it sank if dropped overboard!

GCHQ (2)

Event co-ordinator, Adele Webb, said, “We appreciated the tremendous knowledge that our prestigious presenters offered. It made for a quality experience for all our visitors, who were able to talk to the experts and ask all sorts of questions.”


With code and cipher challenges available all day, code-busters of all ages had a field day!