Planning the event for this year has been very problematic to say the least. The Dumbleton Hall Hotel was sold in 2021 to a US-based property company who appointed Bespoke Hotels (UK’s largest independent hotel group) to manage the property. They planned to refurbish the hotel last winter but the works kept getting delayed awaiting the required planning consents, which caused considerable uncertainty as to when we could hold our event this year. The hotel management were as much in the dark as we were. In the end, we had to change our dates from September to July when it was eventually decided to put the works on hold during the busy summer season. But despite the change of dates and the initial uncertainty about how much we would actually have to charge for the rooms, we managed to fill all the available rooms.
The change of dates did not suit everyone and unfortunately, a few regulars, including my good friend Maxine, were unable to make it, but it did work well for me. A few friends in the steampunk world told me about an amazing event called ‘Fantasy Forest’ that is held each year at Studeley Castle which is only 5 miles from Dumbleton. The festival was taking place the weekend before the new dates for our Dumbleton Days event in July and there happened to be one room available at the Dumbleton Hall Hotel for the Saturday night of the festival. This gave me a great opportunity to attend the Festival during the day on Sunday before our event starting on the Sunday evening.
I arrived at the hotel Saturday mid-evening, as I was unable to have dinner there that night owing to the wedding that was taking place and retired to my room early, not wishing to crash the party. But I did get a few curious looks when I left the next morning wearing my steampunk outfit for the festival. The Fantasy Forest Festival is described as being for fans of all genres of fantasy including, sci-fi, anime, cosplay, LARP, historical re-enactment and steampunk. It was a feast of entertainment and spectacle and it certainly did not disappoint. I did meet a few of my steampunk friends there but most of the time I just wandered around taking photographs, some of which you can see here.
I got back to the hotel in good time for dinner but stayed in my steampunk outfit for dinner as I had invited our event guests to also dress-up in fantasy costumes for the evening – a few did! Actually, I went to bed soon after dinner, as I was very tired after the day’s activities.
Next morning, after a few short rain showers, Evette and I set up a croquet court on the grass behind the hotel and played a couple of games before lunch. It was my own croquet kit that I brought to the event, and I was pleased that several others played over the next two days. Then in the afternoon, I held a quiz about bands and singers that seemed to go down very well. We had an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme for the evening, which was also popular with several Alice’s, one or two Queen of Hearts, a Mad Hatter, and even a White Rabbit! Immediately following dinner we had a game (that I copied from a steampunk event), which I called ‘It’s a steal’. Everyone gets a mystery prize but it might get stolen, as there are not enough to go round. No one knows what they have got until the end. It’s all great fun! After this, Neil starts his disco and those who prefer a quieter evening retire to the lounge and bar.
Tuesday is the day for traders but unfortunately two we had hoped would attend weren’t able to come this time. But Katie of the Shoe Emporium in Evesham brought along a lovely selection of clothes, shoes and other accessories. We also had a swop shop and the lovely Kitty Ribbons came to do a very interesting deportment workshop. Queen Bea was also doing makeovers all day. In the afternoon, Katie put on a fashion show for us but I was a little disappointed that so few volunteered to be models. It was a good show though and I know a few dresses were sold after seeing them being modelled. I bought one myself, which will be lovely for my future cruises in the sun. After dinner, it was the Miss Rose 2023 contest, the raffle draw, and finally Neil’s disco again.
A relatively small proportion of us stayed the extra Wednesday but those of us who did do find it is a nice quiet day to relax after such an enjoyable time of the previous two or three days. In the past, I organised an outing to a local place of interest for the last day, but this time I suggested we just go into Evesham and have lunch at a lovely, quaint curio tea shop called Jelly Pickle Jam. It was a place Maxine and I had discovered whilst visiting Evesham the first time we came to Dumbleton, and we had always called in there for lunch on the way back home from previous Dumbleton Days. This time I took seven of us to Jelly Pickle Jam where we had a very nice lunch before a wander around Evesham.
So endeth another extremely successful Dumbleton Days event. Everyone told me how much they were looking forward to next year, though some are rather apprehensive about what was to become of the hotel. We just don’t know when the much-delayed refurbishment works will actually take place and when they are completed what they will mean for the viability of our event. Inevitably, prices will increase but the hotel should be lifted to a 4-star rating (at present surprisingly only 3!). My impression is that the increased prices will be acceptable for most of us and my expectation is that the works will be complete before next summer. I will try to go for dates in late September if possible, as I know July/August is not good for some. Please watch this website for news and subscribe to my mailing list to be kept fully updated (you won’t be bombarded with persistent emails – only real news).