The People Who Make a Rheged Christmas

From Christmas tree growers, cinema projectionists, bakers to panto villains, we meet those who work year-round to make Christmas at our Rheged Centre extra special.

The Christmas Tree Grower
Grant Rowley from The Rowley Estates

Rowley’s Christmas Trees are grown on the Rowley Family Estate in nearby Glassonby on a sustainable plantation. Every year, they supply our big Christmas tree, the spectacular festive centrepiece to our Mountain Hall at Rheged. It’s so important to us that we can responsibly source our Christmas tree from a nearby farm.

Grant lives at Maughanby Farm with his wife, Lucy, and their children, Fergal, Minnie, and twins Forrest and Maggie. About 60 of the 320 acres at Maughanby Farm are planted up with a mix of oak, sycamore and silver birch along with a range of Christmas trees which Grant’s father and his uncle, Robin Rowley, began selling 35 years ago.

“There’s a growing interest in where goods have come from. People want to know they are sustainable and come from a well-managed farm and prefer to buy local products to cut down on mileage. Our Christmas trees are sold only a quarter of a mile from where they’re grown. If you go up to the plantation in April, May or June, the trees are full of songbirds. They provide a brilliant habitat for them.”

The Santa’s Elf
The North Pole

“Our Journey to Rheged was a fast one on Santa’s sleigh, as you know Santa goes around the world in one night, so we got to Rheged really quickly. It was a very nice trip, very cosy and comfy, with Santa and the 6 elves, and Santa Paws, Santa’s dog all packed into his sleigh.

We bought Santa’s Magical Forest with us from the North Pole too using Santa’s special magic. Not many other places have the real Santa, we have the real Santa because he’s such a big Rheged fan! We bought with us Santa’s penguins, polar bears and a really rare white reindeer too. We’ve bought a little slice of the North pole to Rheged.

I’ll let you into a secret, Santa doesn’t just like mince pies, Santa also really likes Viennese Whirls. He’s also very partial to tuna and cucumber sandwiches for his lunch too!”

The Projectionist
Graeme from Rheged

Our Cinema is at the heart of Rheged. Graeme has been our projectionist here at Rheged for nearly 20 years – there’s nothing he doesn’t know about film!

“Sadly gone are the days of celluloid film projectors. All our films now come as digital files, but it still requires a keen eye to make sure the sound and image is projecting correctly. When we are hooking up to a live stream say for The Nutcracker from the Royal Ballet, it’s exciting, as we must join the live streaming feed at just the right time and monitor the signal throughout.

We’ve now added a second screen, but our original giant screen is still my favourite – the scale of the screen is spectacular. All the seats have a great view, but my favourite seat is definitely from my projection booth! It still feels magical up there even after all these years. Give me a wave up in the projection booth next time you come in for a screening.

Christmas is a really magical time in the Cinema, as there’s usually a big film launching around that time. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment of Star Wars coming to our screen, especially the midnight screening! The launch nights are always my favourite as there’s a real buzz with folks getting dressed up – it’s a real party atmosphere.“

The Farm Manager
Bob, Westmorland Family

“Our prep for Christmas at the farm is solely around the supply of cattle, lambs and Herdies over the festive period and new year. We supply direct to Rheged all the beef and lamb on their menus. The work on the farm doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas! We all like the Christmas period though because it is the one time of the year when we have a relatively relaxed work schedule. We just do the basics, including the feeding and bedding.

All of us will work on Christmas morning so that we can be finished for lunchtime and I will normally work in the evening since I live on the farm. We all start work at 7am so we can get out earlier that morning and be finished sometimes by 9am or just a little later.

We are feeding baled silage to 1000 plus main flock ewes outside and chopped clamp silage to our February lambers and all breeding ewe lambs. We are feeding cake to fattening lambs, Herdwick shearlings and ewe lambs outside and to fattening lambs and cast ewes in the sheep shed. All growing cattle are inside over winter, and receive a mix of straw, clamp silage and minerals, and the older livestock are fed a mix containing clamp silage, straw, rolled barley, minerals and a protein pellet.

Once we’re finished, we have a traditional Christmas lunch at the Farmhouse. It’s nice to get outside for an hour on Christmas Day and Boxing Day afternoon for a walk, to see to the livestock after our lunch and drinks.”

The Pantomime Hero
Ashleigh Hammond from Gary Starr Pantomimes

We love a Panto here at Rheged!

“I have been working for Gary Starr Pantomimes since July. Since then, I have appeared as the Evil Queen (Snow White), Sarah (Grimm Tales), Jill (Jack and the Beanstalk), Queen of Hearts (Alice in Circusland), Tinkerbell (Peter Pan), Kaa (Jungle Book), Kim/Fairy Godmother (Cinderella), Fairy (Beauty and The Beast), Anne Bonney (Treasure Island) as well as Fairy Bella in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Rheged earlier this year!

I have thoroughly enjoyed spreading the magic of theatre in so many different roles at so many different venues this year, especially helping to spread festive cheer this month!

I am delighted to be back at the fantastic Rheged Centre this Christmas to finish off a fabulous year of pantomime fun in Aladdin! “

The Box Office Phone Team
Lisa from Rheged

“With lots of events happening over the festive season, it’s a busy time for our Box Office team. Lisa is one of our Box Office team members, staffing the phonelines daily to help our customers plan festive days out with their families.

“I think Rheged’s a really magical place at Xmas, there’s always so much going on, with lots of lovely events to look forward to. Christmas is a really exciting time, the colleagues always have a really great time, wearing reindeer antlers and Christmas jumpers to get in the Christmas spirit.

I love being on the phones over the festive period, helping advise customers about what’s on when and helping them plan special time with family. Sometimes it can be big family groups with three or four generations planning a day out, so it’s really lovely to help organise it for them.”

The Product Development Manager
Sarah, Westmorland Family

“We start planning our Christmas lines about August time. We’ve worked on a number of products for Christmas – our Christmas roast, a festive sandwich and toastie and a range of bakery products, including our own Christmas puddings and cakes that are on sale in the shops. Our biggest challenge is creating new and exciting products but also think about our operational colleagues who need to deliver the products at one of our busiest times.

I think that Christmas is one of the times that really showcases what makes us special as a business. All the wonderful products that we create and find to sell across our business are really unique to us and make us who we are, and different to everybody else.

The dark chocolate swiss roll is a really lovely product. We use Belgian chocolate in it and local jam in the filling. Also the mincemeat frangipane slice is a nice Christmassy product. We use Buxton Pudding Company mincemeat which is our recipe that they make for us.

Everybody works so hard to make Christmas at Westmorland really special and it’s great to see all teams work together to pull it all together.“


In the Lakes this Christmas? Plan your festive day out at Rheged at


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