Who is Cornwall: The Great Estate founder, Ben Hall
As the sunshine swept across the rolling green hills of the prestigious Scorrier House Estate, Cornwall’s most rambunctious garden fête revealed a medley of live music stages, hidden gardens, colourful tents, mouth-watering food stalls, hobbit huts and secret forest glades. Opening its gates to over 19,000 festival guests, The Great Estate showcased festival headliners The Charlatans, Craig Charles and Symphonica Orchestra featuring Mr. Switch.
We went to meet with one of The Great Estate's festival founders, Ben Hall on the Saturday of the festival in the beautiful grounds of Scorrier House. Considering that the festival was now in full swing, Ben seemed extremely calm and more than happy to chat to us about how they came up with the ideas behind what is known as the most rambunctious garden fête.
*please note that the images in this post were taken at The Great Estate festvial 2018*
So, Ben, tell us about yourself – did you grow up in Cornwall or did you move here later in life?
I moved to Cornwall from Hampshire when I was 18 and I’ve been lucky enough to call Newquay my home ever since! I used to play music in local pubs and clubs, then one day out of complete coincidence, I bumped into Ian Whittacker (who is still my business partner) who I worked alongside to create a booking agency - we would hold gigs and events for other musicians alike. After time, we wanted our events to be a little different; so, after racking our brains, we decided to start putting on gigs and festivals on Cornwall’s favourite beaches – that was when one of our major Newquay events, the Electric Beach festival was born.
A really cool partnership and concept was created and we held some really awesome events. I mean, who doesn’t love a beach festival!?!
There’s so much competition in Cornwall when it comes to events and festivals so it became pretty difficult to find a gap in the market. Everyone knows how much the Cornish love their cider. There were loads of pie and ale festivals but nothing that focused on cider! We took a risk and now six years later after its discovery, The Little Orchard Cider festival held at Healey’s Cider farm is still going strong.
We all know that the Cornish love their cider! What kind of things happen at The Little Orchard Cider Festival?
Healey’s cider farm is a fantastic venue for the festival. It’s a working cider farm with great infrastructure and full of working tractors – it’s just perfect for what we were looking for. The Little Orchard Cider Festival is one big Cornish party really. We have some awesome live bands, a groovy silent disco, BBC introducing stage, secret cider walks and loads of camping and glamping options. The list goes on!
Sounds awesome! Now we know that The Great Estate Festival is full of weird and wonderful happenings; where did you get your inspiration from?
The Great Estate is certainly very eccentric and weird! For us, we want to have fun hosting the festival, just as much as those that are attending.
Once we had one whacky idea, the concept rapidly grew and then eventually we had this insane concept of a ‘rambunctious garden’fête. Ian came up with the idea of ‘Madam Wong’s House of Wrongs’ - I honestly have no idea where it came from but it works really well. We just play around with these crazy ideas and then figure out how it will work out later.
We spent a lot of time crawling around for venues to find something suitable. Scorrier House is off the beaten track which makes it pretty exciting because not many people have been there before as it’s a private Estate.
There’s loads of space which makes it perfect for our hidden gems! Nestled in the far corner of the Estate you’ll be able to find the Secret Gin Garden hosted by local distillers Tarquin’s. It’s home to the Classical Corner where you will be able to find a selection of artists and DJ’s. It’s such a cool chill out area if you want to kick back on a beanbag, with a gin in hand.
Then there’s the Woodland Silent Disco which seems to be a favourite! The disco is tucked away amongst the trees and a number of DJs battle it out for the top position on the decks.
Oh, and I can’t forget Cornwall’s very own Wild Wine Club. They transform this derelict horse shed into a long table Galician banquet. The décor is insane – the tables are dotted with buoys, fishing nets, nautical flags and lobster pots. They put on wood fired octopus and BBQ beef sizzled over a fire in preparation for the weekend’s tasty feasts. It really is a treat!
We will definitely be heading to the silent disco! In terms of the acts, who are you most excited to see this year?
I’m really looking forward to seeing The Charlatans! I was a MAD fan of them when I was growing up in my late teens. I loved indie rock and the Charlatan’s were right up there so it was great to invite them to the stage this year.
We hear that you are trying to break the world record for the biggest cream tea party. How confident are you that you’ll be able to break that?
Absolutely, we really want to give it a go at smashing the current world record of 735. We have 800 tables laid out on the lawn ready to go. You might have noticed that there are loads of weird, bearded ladies walking around selling tickets to the tea party. I’d say that I am quietly confident that we will reach the numbers that we need to get to smash the record.
*We are pleased to announce, that the world record was broken on the 3rd of June at The Great Estate!*
The team have a question for you. We’ve noticed that you have the ‘all seeing eye’ on the branding – can you tell us what that’s all about?
Ahhhh (laughing). Now, that’s the type of information that I cannot disclose!
Understandably you’ve been extremely busy on this year’s events, but do you have anything new in store for 2019?
People absolutely love the Secret Gin Garden at The Great Estate, so because of this the garden will be returning on the 17th August (2018). It will be a recreation of what we have at The Great Estate – it will be slightly smaller but we will still continue to include the best features that everyone loves.
For The Great Estate, we will build on what we’ve already done plus introduce more weird and wonderful things. This year we added the Whispering Woods which is a story telling location and it seems to have done very well.
We will just keep adding to the list of whacky things – nothing is impossible! If you dare follow us into the unknown, then you better head down to Scorrier House in 2019!
The Great Estate 2019 will be held on the 31st May – 2nd June at Scorrier House. For more information: https://greatestatefestival.co.uk
The Little Orchard Cider festival will be held on the 14th-16th September at Healey’s Cider Farm. For more information: http://cornwallciderfestival.co.uk