Gracious living is back in fashion in the tiny village
of Kermincham near Holmes Chapel. Farmers' wife Bettie Riddell
has created a unique English dining experience where parties
can enjoy 'proper food, cooked properly' in the comfort of a
private suite of rooms on the family's farm.
Bettie, whose husband Anthony runs the family's dairy farm, is an ex-home
economics teacher, with many years' experience catering for large numbers
of diners at charity functions.
As milk prices dropped and the farm became less profitable, she decided
to use her skills to generate an additional income and applied for a grant
from the Rural Development Service to convert an existing building adjacent
to the main house into a purpose built dining area, with bed and breakfast
Funding from Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme provided 25% towards the
cost of converting an old ground floor stable into two elegant oak-beamed
dining rooms, 3 ensuite bedrooms and a snooker room, all in a picturesque
setting with views of the well-maintained gardens and surrounding countryside.
The dining room officially opened on November 18th with a special charity
dinner, which raised over £3000 for Cystic Fibrosis - a cause close
to Bettie's heart as her nephew has the disease. Bookings are now being
taken for private parties, and the diary is already filling up with appointments.
Catering for parties of up to 24 people, Bettie offers a traditional
English menu, using locally sourced fresh ingredients from nearby farms.
A large percentage of the food is organic, with the emphasis being on
quality produce, cooked to order.
Her passion for local industry also applies to the crockery. Rooms are
decorated with Wedgwood Blue Jasper from the nearby potteries and diners
are served meals on Royal Staffordshire dinner services, Wedgwood fine
bone china and other classical English tableware.
She employs four local farmers' wives to help with busy bookings, and
rooms can be hired separately or as a tailor made package, giving parties
the freedom to choose whether to simply book a relaxing meal or to stay
the night and enjoy a mini break.
"I have worked all my life around food and cookery so when the new
milking parlour was up and running, incorporating facilities for the farmers,
I had a couple of spare rooms and decided to convert a section of the
house to the English Dining Room. I was delighted when the project was
approved for a Rural Enterprise Scheme grant.
"There are very few places where small parties can book private
rooms and enjoy the experience of being catered for in an exclusive country
house environment and I aim to provide a quality experience where groups
can relax, converse and eat a traditional, home cooked meal."
Christmas also promises to be a treat for festive diners, with The English
Dining Room opening all throughout the holiday period. During December
Bettie will be lighting the log fires, decorating the dining rooms and
serving up traditional Christmas dinners with all the trimmings on special
Spode Christmas tree china. Delicacies on offer include stuffed dates,
mince tart and sticky toffee pudding as well as a special recipe Christmas
pudding made in nearby Holmes Chapel.
Ruth Prinold, Team Leader with the Rural Development Service says:
"The English Dining Room caters to a niche market, and is a unique
project and an excellent example of a farming family using the Rural Enterprise
Scheme to make their business sustainable by adapting to changing markets.
"Bettie is committed to the region, supporting the surrounding community
both in terms of providing employment, promoting local pottery and buying
the majority of her produce from local farms. We wish her every success
in the future."
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