Charleston’s Frost Fair offers a huge range of Christmas crafts

A traditional hand-knitted sweater by Hambro and Miller
A traditional hand-knitted sweater by Hambro and Miller

More than 30 craftspeople from as far away as Cornwall and the Isle of Anglesey will converge on the newly restored Hay Barn at Charleston near Lewes for the first-ever Frost Fair on November 24 and 25.

It will be the start of a whole range of seasonal events.

Amy Isles Freeman (left) with some of her work

Amy Isles Freeman (left) with some of her work

With the barn decorated in greenery, Christmas trees and holly wreaths for sale and with plenty of local produce to sample, plus Rathfinny wines, mince pies and hot chocolate, this will be a chance for visitors to see what Charleston has to offer this winter.

There will be a huge range of crafts for sale, including ceramics, textiles, jewellery, knitwear, prints, homewares, toys and Christmas decorations.

Camilla Thomas from Anglesey will be showing Merino lambs’ wool throws and cushions, woven in a family-run mill in Lancashire, while designer and milliner Lucie Crago is exhibiting working clothes inspired by her native Cornwall, including dungarees, culottes and boiler suits in cotton drill and denim, handmade in her Lewes studio. Another Cornish artist, Amy Isles Freeman, will be selling turned and painted wooden bowls, plus handpainted clothing, furniture and prints.

Two textile artists from Hastings – Melissa White and Josephine Doolan – will be joined by another Hastings-based business – Wini-Tapp – which designs paper products for children, including cut-out puppet kits, mobiles and garlands. This small but enterprising business sells across the world, including Australia, the USA and South Korea.

Melissa White Fresco Secco painting

Melissa White Fresco Secco painting

Lewes-based Forage and Bloom specialises in sustainable, locally grown materials for its range of floristry. Another Lewes exhibitor is Susie Petrou who has a shop at The Needlemakers selling repaired and restored antique and vintage textiles, which she has collected from all over Europe. Molly Mahon from Forest Row will be showing block printed fabrics, cushions and homeware.

Add to the mix clogs from Sweden, jewellery, a whole range of ceramics and prints produced from blocks cut, inked and printed on a small press.

Nathaniel Hepburn, director and chief executive of the Charleston Trust, said: “The newly restored Hay Barn provides a wonderful space for events such as makers’ fairs. As we continue into December, we will be hosting festive workshops and a Gin and Jazz party. Charleston is now open throughout the winter months, with short house tours on offer and wonderful exhibitions in the galleries.”

The Frost Fair is open both days from 11 am to 5pm. Admission £5. To book, call Charleston on 01323 815150.

Camilla Thomas textiles, rockpool throw and cushion

Camilla Thomas textiles, rockpool throw and cushion

Other events between now and Christmas, include: a Christmas card woodcut workshop (November 27), a talk by Annie Sloan on chalk painting on December 2 (her workshop on December 1 is sold out), a winter wreath workshop (December 7), a Gin and Jazz party (December 8) and Christmas cake decorating with artist and designer Cressida Bell (December 10).

For full details and winter opening times, visit the website charleston.org.uk.