The field-to-fork story just got real.
Cheshire’s Tatton Park estate has fed generations of gentry, servants and tourists from its orchards, kitchen gardens and rare breeds farm. The neoclassical mansion’s museum-piece kitchen has long told a lively tale of how food was prepped but the farm now augments this with an unflinching account of how food made it from barn to banqueting table.
A Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.3m has revamped the farm from 1930s heritage piece to a brilliant Horrible Histories-style attraction, creating clever soundscapes and interactive exhibits narrating day-to-day farm life. We climb high into the old mill to watch the threshing and crushing that produces livestock feed and flour. We pet chicks and piglets roaming the yard and then step into the slaughterhouse. The former abattoir building’s brick walls and windows have been darkened, against which shadowy projections show a pig’s journey from pasture to manor house pantry, told by a fictional 19th-century servant boy and farmer, complete with butcher’s block sound effects, bloody props (a bucket of blood and offcuts), and a swaying silhouette of a pig on a meat hook. This is all testament to the fact that the exhibit was part-designed by children and is firmly focused on small scale farming. My daughter, a former vegetarian, is illuminated rather than nauseated.
“Well,” she says pragmatically. “That’s what goes on isn’t it.”
Published in the Family 2019 issue, distributed with the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)