CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Derbyshire Life today CLICK HERE

Mary Berry prepares for her role as 2018 Chatsworth Country Fair President

PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 August 2018

Mary Berry Photo: Georgia Glynn Smith

Mary Berry Photo: Georgia Glynn Smith

georgia glynn smith

Mary Berry talks to Pat Ashworth about why she loves the Chatsworth Country Fair

Chatsworth House forms a majestic backdrop to the event Photo: House forms a majestic backdrop to the event Photo:

If I hadn’t feared it might sound sycophantic, I’d have told Mary Berry that even as we spoke, there was one of her Ginger and Treacle Spiced Traybakes sitting in my kitchen awaiting collection for a gathering later that day. It’s the iced one scattered with stem ginger… and the joy of this and her other bakes is that you just throw all the ingredients in together and end up with a perfect result every time.

An undisputed national treasure, Mary has been part of the line-up at Chatsworth Country Fair for the last six years. This year it’s also in the capacity of President, an invitation she was delighted to accept. ‘I was honoured to be asked and very proud to be a part of it. I love it,’ she says with genuine warmth. ‘It’s just the most beautiful setting, and there’s nothing like looking out in the morning and seeing all those balloons and that sky. Everyone has a smile on their face. It’s sheer pleasure – a proper day out for everybody.’

Her acceptance of the role has delighted the organisers. ‘Mary has been a fantastic supporter for many years now,’ said Sarah Green. ‘She has been taken to the hearts of the visitors who pack out the theatre to see her deliver her pearls of culinary wisdom every time.’

There’s no treadmill of a summer circuit for Mary: Chatsworth is the only such event she does, except for something local to her home, and she does it ‘because it’s the best.’ She marvels at the continuous spectacle going on in the main ring – ‘one stunning event after another’ – and loves the fact that everybody brings their dogs – ‘There’s nothing more entertaining than all the dogs meeting each other. It’s hilarious, don’t you think?’

Dry stone walling is one of the traditional crafts featured Photo: stone walling is one of the traditional crafts featured Photo:

On arrival, she’ll go to the demonstration tent first, to check that everything is right for her. And then she’s likely to head off to the Fine Food Village, which this year will be in a particularly glorious location in front of the House. ‘I like to look around and see what ingredients there are that I can taste and that I might talk about when I do my dem – and I always do a bit of shopping,’ she says. ‘There are always new things. People are experimenting at the moment with all different kinds of salamis. Old-fashioned cuts of meat are coming back and of course there’s venison – lovely lean meat and very good for us. I can’t think of anything that isn’t there.’

The tent that is the Stoves Cookery Theatre is always ‘packed to the gunwales, with the braiding up at the sides and people leaning in,’ she says happily of the warm atmosphere that surrounds the demonstrations. She’ll be doing two on the Saturday, along with book signings. ‘If Alan Titchmarsh is there in the afternoon, I’ll be asking him to come in and we’ll have some fun and try some recipes.

‘I’m going to do a chicken recipe – the kind of thing for when people come round and you want to do a bit of a show. And a Summer Pavlova, I think… and a first course of salmon or you can use smoked trout… All I want is for people to go home and make the dishes. They’re not too complicated and they’re ones that family and friends will enjoy and perhaps add to their own repertoire.’

She finds the Fair a very easy place to be and doesn’t at all mind being ‘tapped on the shoulder and people saying, “Oh, I make your lemon drizzle” or “I like the new programme”. I’m very privileged to have such nice people come up and talk to me,’ she says. ‘They never moan.’ And not even the weather can spoil the event, she considers, because ‘people in Derbyshire just dress for it and get on with it.’ It’s a part of the world she’d like to get to know better, family holidays having for most of her life been spent by the sea in Devon and Cornwall.

Household Cavalry Musical Ride Photo: Shortsphotography.comHousehold Cavalry Musical Ride Photo:

When she talks about food, you can almost taste it. We get on to the subject of scones which are ‘best served warm,’ she says unequivocally. ‘Just warm, with cream and jam. We’re the only country in the world that has clotted cream, and this is the season for making strawberry or raspberry jam – or buying a good one.’ Scones feature in the 100 recipes in her latest book, Fast Cakes – the very title of which is music to the ears of busy home bakers everywhere.

‘People say, “Fancy using a can of condensed milk!”,’ she says. ‘But it’s all made in minutes and it’s very good. And of course there’s Victoria Sponge in there and Lemon Drizzle…’ Which is where I would have mentioned the Ginger and Treacle Spiced Traybake but didn’t have the nerve.

On the way home, she always stops at Chatsworth Farm Shop, a place she describes as ‘an absolute eye-opener. How lucky you are to have it,’ she says. She’ll make sure she has time for a cup of coffee too, so that she can have a good think and not forget to look for some particular speciality. Altogether a wonderful weekend in a beautiful place, she says in contentment.

More from Out & About

A ten-minute drive from the western edge of Sheffield brings thrill-seekers to a Derbyshire valley where outdoor activities are thriving.

Read more

Andrew Griffiths meets Jim Dixon, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Peak District National Park.

Read more

This walk offers a dance with the Dove and a meander by the Manifold, whilst along the way passing a church, castle remains, country houses and a hollow way

Read more

With winter on the horizon, trees glow with colour, migratory birds arrive and house spiders set off in search of a mate

Read more

Ann Hodgkin investigates a case of the sincerest form of flattery… or industrial espionage!

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s vision is of landscapes rich in wildlife, valued by everyone. They will achieve this 
by pursuing their mission of creating Living Landscapes. Here Julia Gow, the White Peak Reserve Officer at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust tells us about the reserve above the River Wye

Read more

Nigel Powlson visits Sudbury where a shopping courtyard is attracting even more visitors to this quintessential English village

Read more

If you’re walking in the Peak District, the chances are that you could encounter a reservoir at some point during your ramble. There are dozens of resevoirs dotted around all corners of the national park, we pick some of our favourite walks from our archive.

Read more
Peak District

A five-year Heritage Lottery-funded scheme, launched in 2010, was designed to encourage the restoration and conservation of the distinctive landscape character of a large area of north-east Derbyshire.

Read more

Enjoy the wonder of woodland in our glorious Derwent Valley on this park and ride special.

Read more

Paul Hobson reveals some of the fascinating wildlife there is to be found in this month of transition

Read more

From far away constellations to gas clouds, our night skies are bursting with natural wonders – if you know where to look... Viv Micklefield goes stargazing in Derbyshire

Read more

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust works across six Living Landscapes with 46 nature reserves to ensure there is wildlife and wild places for everyone. Reserve officer Sam Willis tells us about one of his favourite places – Ladybower Wood Nature Reserve

Read more

A multi-million pound makeover attracts more leading brands to one of the UK’s biggest shopping destinations

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Topics of Interest

Local Business Directory

Property Search