The pandemic has halted a number of December festivities, but certain establishments such as Hertfordshire’s impressive 190-acre Ashridge House are ensuring that the festive season is just as magical (if not a little more socially distanced) to previous years.
Review: Ashridge House Presents The Enchanted Garden Globes
The country estate – formerly the Royal residence of both King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I (who was in fact arrested in the property gardens by Mary Tudor on account of treason) – has introduced The Enchanted Garden Globes, a joyously festive dining experience taking place throughout December and located within the historic house’s spectacular grounds. Upon arrival to the beautifully illuminated former palace, you’ll get a glimpse of the estate’s magnitude, namely it’s opulent high ceilings, historic portraits and decadent decor. Now is the perfect time to visit, as the house has been sublimely furnished for the festive season with sparkling lights and numerous Christmas trees… but it’s in the garden where the magic happens.
A Festive Feast
Once greeted with a traditional carol singing performance, couples and groups of guests are each escorted to a private lighted igloo, complete with cosy blankets, Christmas music and a toasty electric fire. Prosecco is served, shortly followed by a warm glass of spice mulled wine and delicious savoury appetiser such as arancini di riso. Next to come is an indulgent seafood sharing platter featuring the likes of hot roasted smoked salmon, homemade fish cakes and a sweet Bloody Mary gazpacho. An equally-as-enjoyable vegetarian platter is also available; think flavourful roasted veg, fried halloumi, humous and baba ghanoush.
However, you’ll need to save room for what’s labelled on the menu as ‘the main event’ – another festive sharing platter, this time comprising of succulent roast Norfolk turkey with sage and chestnut stuffing, sirloin of beef and tasty pigs in blanket, all accompanied by a plate of ‘winter greens’ and gratin dauphinoise, gravy and cranberry sauce. For those who wish to steer clear of meat (or save the turkey feasting until Christmas), a delightful vegetable wellington is also on the menu. To finish (prepare your second stomach), a mouth-watering chocolate fanatasia is up for grabs fusing chocolate, caramel and an assortment of berries, along with a minced sweet crumble tart and all the traditional teas and coffees.
After dinner, guests can enjoy an enchanted woodland walk around the gardens (mulled wine and lightsaber-style lantern in hand) where captivating light installations, cosy outdoor nooks and even a few friendly elves await. You’ll also discover the monastery, the oldest part of the estate founded by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall in 1283, and glimpse some spectacular views of the illuminated house. Note: the walk is a little muddy, so be sure to wear outdoor shoes, or bring an extra pair in case.
The Final Word
Feasting with friends or family is just the ticket we need right now, and Ashridge House is offering the perfect opportunity to do so merrily (and sensibly). Whilst London is currently offering an array of alfresco and igloo dining experiences, there is something compelling and truly festive about visiting an enchanting country estate at Christmas. And after such a tumultuous year, Ashridge’s garden globes are here to remind us of all the joy that the festive season can bring – carol singing, delicious food, and a jolly woodland walk, all to be shared with loved ones (well, five of them at least).
The Enchanted Garden Globes at Ashridge House are available to book from 3-11, 14-24 and 26-31 December, with January dates TBA. Lunch is available from 12-4pm for £90pp, with dinner available from 6-10pm for £155pp. Visit ashridgehouse.org.uk to book.