Kelham Hall Christmas Fair

To get into the Christmas fair at Kelham Hall we had to pay £5 per person. We pre-booked our tickets online, as the website stated that we had to pre-book our tickets, as buying them on the door wasn’t an option. But when we arrived there were people buying tickets on the door…however, we did get given a free hot chocolate, so can’t complain.

Kelham Hall is a beautiful and grand building in Kelham, which is just outside Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire. £5 is pricey for what was basically a gift and craft fair, but I did get to see inside a historic building, which I was looking forward to.

The first room of the craft fair was relatively small and had a choir singing to make it more festive. We soon moved onto the main room, which was larger and had a lot more tables in to wander around. There was nothing much of interest for my own personal tastes, but there was a nice selection of gifts being sold and crafty items created by the stall owners.

We had planned to have lunch there and joined the queue in the canteen. On the giant chalkboard above the counter was a decent sized menu and we were looking forward to a nice panini and bowl of chips. However, after being in the queue for several minutes we began to realise that maybe nothing on that menu was available as other people appeared to just be buying cobs…so I walked up to the front of the line and asked the woman serving what was available and she nonchalantly and without any hint of an apology told me that nothing on the menu was available, just the several poor options on the small menu on the counter. This included a couple of meat cobs, a yule log and a mince pie. As a vegetarian this meant I couldn’t have an actual hot lunch here, unless I wanted an expensive pre-prepared cheese cob. What was worse was that there was no sign saying that the menu had been ridiculously reduced down to pretty much nothing. Why they had done this was a mystery. Also if we did buy something from here there was nowhere for us to sit and eat it, as the only seating area was for the people eating pre-ordered roast dinners. There were plenty of workers in the kitchen, but I guess they were putting together the roast dinners.

Because of the lack of food it meant we couldn’t spend much longer at the fair as we were hungry. We explored the other rooms, nibbled on some free cookie tasters from one stall to tide us over and headed for the exit. We did visit the baby reindeer in the ‘reindeer creche’ before leaving. There were three of them and they had drawn a crowd, mainly of inquisitive children wanting to get as close to them as possible. But the poor reindeer looked petrified in their caged area of the courtyard. They clung together and flinched at any sudden movement or noise. There were also no workers keeping an eye on them and making sure no members of the public did anything they shouldn’t.

It was nice to see Santa though! He had a constant queue of children waiting to sit next to him on his sleigh and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. I decided to settle on just sending him a letter, as people may look down on a grown man sitting next to Santa in his sleigh…

Overall this Christmas fair was a bit of a let down. At the end of the day it was just a craft fair, so you forget about being inside such a magnificent old building and wonder why you just paid so much to get into a craft fair. But to have no proper lunch menu, in my eyes, was utterly ridiculous. There were a lot of people and many wanted food and they would have made a lot more money from having the full menu available and have had many more happy customers. So I suggest that if you visit Kelham Hall, visit on a nice day to enjoy the hall and country park instead of going to the Christmas fair.

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