Published on June 5, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour


How does your (beer) garden grow?

The latest venture at Beamish Hall Country House Hotel near Stanley in County Durham is an attractive garden centre which opened with a flourish in April. It’s a delightful site selling seasonal plants, eclectic garden furniture and witty garden art that would be the making of many a pub beer garden.

The present Beamish Hall was built in the mid-18th Century as a country house and is now grade-II listed. It was originally built in 1268 as a present for the wedding of Isabella de la Leigh and Guiscard de Charron, so its current use as a premier wedding venue has a long history. Set in 24 acres of woodland and parkland and now a successful hotel, it’s owned and operated by the local Craggs family under the Best Western banner – plus it’s home to the highly popular Stables Brewery.

The garden centre forms part some new initiatives to refresh the Beamish Hall experience, such as a new Woodland Trail and an Alice In Wonderland feature with enormous wooden carvings. It’s a treasure trove of shrubs, trees, bedding plants, garden ornaments, tables, seating – benches and chairs in metal and wood – planters, arbours, objets d’art and hanging baskets. It’s everything a pub would need, inside and out, to take advantage of (hopefully) a fine summer.
Arron Craggs, son of owner David Craggs, has taken time out from mowing the lawns to chat about the new venture. There’s a wedding later on in the day – the third one of the week – and he’s under a bit of pressure.

“Gardening is all I’ve ever done since I left school,” he says. “I love the outdoor work. We had been talking for a while about converting one of the car parks into what you see now, although there’s still a lot more to do. We opened in April after four weeks of intense preparation. It’s already doing well and word will get around that we’ve got all this going on.

“We’ve got a good team here with people on work placements doing all sorts of work, plus volunteers. Peter Diehl from The Stables Brewery also helps out a couple of days a week and we’re interviewing for someone who knows more about the nursery garden side of things.”
Even after just a few weeks in business, Beamish Hall Garden Centre is thriving on imagination and freedom of spirit – just what you need at home or in a beer garden.

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Alastair Gilmour

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