Barton Court is a 10 bedroomed country house, situated in the village of Colwall (between Ledbury and Malvern), originally built in the 15th century (beginning its life as a farmhouse) to be later extended and refurbished in 1780 by Henry Lambert who bought it to woo his new bride. Henry’s plan worked as she did marry him and their family lived at Barton Court for more than 100 years.
In the current day the Georgian house with 6 acres of private gardens is now in the ownership of Cheltenham based couple Linda Camp and James Meyer, who gave the property a minor revamp when they bought it in 2015. Barton court is available for weddings, private events, midweek breaks and corporate stays as well as their eating and drinking foodie club ‘A Moveable Feast’. Mr R and I booked tickets to the first one – a Halloween ‘Guys and Ghouls’ dinner, planned to take place on 4th November with catering by A Rule of Tum Events (winners of 2017’s best UK Sunday Lunch voted by The Guardian’s OFM readers). There are also plans to team up with The Beefy Boys, Gus Ashenford of No 5 and The Enchanted Tea Room in Cheltenham.
There was a full moon on Saturday night with a surrounding mist, it was almost as if it had been set up for our spooky dinner plans. As we approached Barton Court we drove under a bridge lit up with colourful lighting and into the courtyard next to the stables where we were guided to the party by stewards. Enchanting lighting effects had also been created on the house by Oxygen Event Services and we spotted a tree that had been lit up in a grisly green. We were first greeted by Tiffany from Oscar’s Bar Hire who offered us a glass of prosecco; a gruesome eyeball made from a lychee and blueberry sat in the bottom of the glass- actually quite delicious.
Mr R and I moved inside and explored some of the rooms, each one had been dressed up with a Halloween theme. One of my favourite being the hand decorated skeleton by Sam James Art. There was time for the guests to meet and mingle in the reception rooms, and at the indoor bar in the library. We found ourselves back in the entrance room chatting to local videographer Adam Lyduch who was taking footage of the evening, as well as meeting our hosts Linda and James. Guests continued to arrive, some in costume, including Dracula who we discovered (and in case you’re wondering) actually wears trainers under his cloak.
Guests were ushered back outside to watch a fabulous firework display before returning to the dining room for a hair-raising feast. Then suddenly there was a power cut and all of the lights went out apart from the dimmed effect lighting that had been set up for the evening, which made the whole experience feel even more like Halloween – although this had probably not been intended.
We found a couple of empty seats and started to get to know our new friends (which included Dracula) whilst food began to arrive at the tables. The first course was a platter of sourdough from award-winning baker Alex Gooch, pork rillettes, pig head croquettes, tamarind & honey ribs and house pickles. Unfortunately the power cut had affected the kitchen and they had to improvise by setting up a short walk away from the venue. This meant that the waiting staff were having to transport the food as quickly as they could before it got cold. They did an amazing job and all of the guests tucked into the beastly banquet.
Amongst the main courses to share with the ‘guys and ghouls’ keeping us company on our table, was a herb & apricot porchetta with crackling and Tom Oliver’s cider, sage & mustard braised shoulder. The boneless pork roast was moist and full of flavour and a contrasting texture to the slowly cooked shoulder which was juicy and tender. I was a huge fan of the potato & celeriac gratin, the potatoes were well cooked and a hearty accompaniment to the pork. Fold Farm greens were roasted with shallot & lardo vinaigrette, and to bring everything together we were served a burnt apple & clove sauce.
As I finished dressing my plate with a spoonful of pickled red cabbage I couldn’t help but get distracted by the deep scent of the warm spices. It was at that moment it occurred to me that the winter was looming just around the corner. But not quite yet, because tonight we were still celebrating Halloween, and what better way to finish the frightful feast than with a petrifying Pumpkin Pie? Ok, I’m getting carried away. There was nothing scary about the pie at all; it was sweet and delicious and underneath the individual slices was a velvety, rich crème fraiche (sourced locally from Neal’s Yard). The whole evening had been so much fun and my only regret was that we didn’t book a room and stay. Barton Court’s very first ‘A Moveable Feast’ with A Rule of Tum Events had been an absolute triumph!
Keep an eye on Barton Court’s events page for lots more from ‘A Moveable Feast’, as well as workshops and events taking place over the coming weeks for Barton Court’s ‘Enchanted Christmas’ weekend. If you missed out this time and would like to experience one of A Rule of Tum’s seasonal menus, check out their Christmas Brunch, being held at The Bookshop Hereford on the 23rd and 30th December 2017.
Cost: £50 per ticket (food only) – £5 off if you sign up to their newsletter
Ticket price included a glass of fizz on arrival and food.
Visit www.bartoncourtonline.co.uk for information about future events at Barton Court.
Colwall, Herefordshire, United Kingdom – last visited in November 2017
*Mr R and I paid for our own tickets at this event and were not asked by Barton Court, A Rule of Tum or anyone else mentioned in this post to write a review about the evening.