What do you do when you’re running out of space and in danger of losing that festival atmosphere for which your show is famed? You move to a bigger location. Where you can all use your picnic blankets again! And that’s exactly what we’re doing in 2023.
Lower Drayton Farm has been our home since we started the show back in 2017 and we’ve had more than a few happy times there. We’re sad to say goodbye and wish the Farm well with the further development of its superb Play Barn. And we’re also happy to be looking forward to moving Wool@J13 to Bishton Hall at Wolseley Bridge, to welcoming our show visitors to its beautiful landscaped grounds – a big contributing factor in our decision to move here – and its lovely Orangery and Temple Garden boasting one of the best Doric screens in the country. And to having the space that the location will give us to return to our festival roots.
Located just 25 mins from Junction 13 of the M6 and on the A51, Bishton Hall at Wolseley Bridge, Stafford, is easily reachable by car, is served by public transport (10 mins walk from the bus stop) and if you arrive by boat, there’s the Trent & Mersey canal running right by the Hall. Wolseley Wildlife Centre is also just around the corner and the beauty of Cannock Chase is right on the doorstep, so a weekend visit is set to give you a great deal of pleasure. There’s also, would you believe it, a campsite just down the road. Rural is the name of the game here and in Bishton Hall & its surrounds, Staffordshire does it so well.
Here are a few more reasons to be cheerful about our move to this stunning slice of history and why we made it.
Philanthropy, happiness and education have been Bishton’s watchwords since it became home to the Sparrow family in 1776. Daughter, Charlotte Sparrow. was born into an age when marriage meant the handing over of any inheritance to her husband. So, what did this astute lady do? She simply never married, ensuring Bishton remained in the family and gave her energies & financial independence instead to founding a school in a stone’s throw away Colwich for the village children from poorer families, paying for the whole enterprise from her own pocket including teachers’ salaries, materials and books.
Charlotte’s primary school still exists | Colwich School. On May 17th each year, Charlotte’s birthday, the school holds a celebration to honour her. From distant shores in the 21st century, Wool@J13, sharing her passion for education & learning, salutes her and is proud to make her home, ours, in the same month.
Education didn’t stop with the Sparrow family. Years later, in 1954, the Stafford Northcotes opened St Bede’s School at Bishton Hall and it remained a school until 2018 when it was bought by Charles Hanson of Hanson Antiques. A man passionate about history, he fell in love with Bishton’s period grandeur, made it a place to showcase antiques and started to develop the Hall as an events venue with an arts & crafts courtyard & coffee shop to match.
Come and discover for yourself. We look forward to welcoming you to Wool@J13 at Bishton Hall in 2023! You can read more about the Hall at https://bishtonhall.com