The Secret Garden at Theatre by the Lake

Until 13 January

“When a garden’s kept proper, all weeded and neat, that chases the wild away. But when it’s left alone, for nature, who knows what secret things’d grow there…”

It’s 1910, and spoilt, lonely Mary Lennox lives a life of luxury in India with her aristocratic parents. But when an unexpected twist of fate suddenly leaves her orphaned, she is sent to live with an unknown uncle in Misselthwaite Manor on the wild Yorkshire Moors.

Misselthwaite is a mysterious place full of dark corners and strange night-time noises, and Mary is sure there are secrets to unearth. With the help of some unexpected friends, Mary sets about discovering the legend of its secret garden, in one of literature’s most enduring and magical adventures.

Jessica Swale recently won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Comedy for her play Nell Gwynn. Her other plays include Blue Stockings and acclaimed adaptations of Stig of the Dump and Sense and Sensibility. Accompanied by a delightful score and a menagerie of puppets, her richly imagined adaptation of Hodgson Burnett’s much loved classic is a Christmas must-see for all ages.

Suitable for ages 6+

Guest cheffing, Evesham celeriac and Brussel sprouts

November is here (and nearly over!). The trees and the hedgerows are now bare and the first snow has already dusted the tops of the fells – but while the landscape has taken on a distinctly wintery feel, the fire is on and the larder is full. From a chef’s perspective, I always get excited about Evesham celeriac and Brussel sprouts which are now becoming widely available and both feature on our festive menu – although as my grandma taught me, I stay clear until they’ve had a good bite of frost.

As some of you may know, I trained at Kendal College graduating in 2012. Earlier this month, I was invited back to do a Guest Chef evening in the college’s restaurant. I remember working with chefs in the past doing these evenings – Simon Rogan of L’enclume and Stephen Doughety of First Floor Cafe @ Lakeland were personal highlights for me, so it was an honour to be asked to lead one of these evenings as a returning student.

I put together a 6-course tasting menu compiled of 1863 dishes past and present and worked with the students to give them an insight into the style of food we offer here. The night was a great success and received really good feedback from the restaurants guests. The students were a pleasure to work with and Kendal College are still at the top of their game, training some of the most talented chefs in the area – great for the industry and great for the future of the Cumbrian food scene.

Kendal pass
And now on to Christmas. Anne and her team of helpers will be busy this coming weekend putting up the decorations (keep an eye on their progress on social media!) but my focus remains on the kitchen. Our Yuletide menu has a good sense of seasonality (just as you would expect) without being a typical Christmas menu. I’ve taken flavours of the festive season and incorporated them throughout the menu to give a little sense of something yet subtly familiar. Celeriac and Brussel sprouts are on there – as is turkey, just not quite as you’d expect it. I know Mark’s looking forward to the Clementine tart while I’m quietly excited about the addition of Douglas Fir as a flavour – have a look here.



Whilst currently thinking of Christmas, I’m working on a New Year’s Eve menu to celebrate how far we have come over the last year. It’s going to be a real showcase and offer a glimpse into the development for next year at 1863. Although the evening is already sold out, we’ll publish the menu for you to take a look at on 1 December. It’s such an exciting time and I’m already looking forward to our first tasting event of 2018!

Perfecting the work-life balancing act…

Two years after receiving planning permission to make the changes to Elm House and we are finally getting back to some family life and a bit of normality.  It’s been a long slog but very much worth the actual blood, sweat and tears that went into changing Elm House into 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms.  It’s fair to say that the first 2 years have been work, work and more work.

From a business perspective, the Bistro opened on time in May 2016, but on a personal level there was still a small matter of Mark building a house for us to live in. A stunning vaulted open plan 2-bedroom single storey abode tucked away on the back corner of the house and cleverly angled with a glass gable end allowing beautiful views over the fells.

3D visual

August 2016 and the start of the house build began, foundations were a fairly quick and painless process but whilst Mark and Jonathan (our only other full-time employee on the build) are both excellent joiners, the block work dragged on a little longer than expected but was all done by the end of September.  Early October saw the oak-framed gable end and the main roof supports being craned into place – we had what was starting to look like a house.  The roof was a real challenge; “a cathedral roof” with 3 pitched roofs projecting from one point at 45-degree angle from the main house but with 10 tonnes of reclaimed Westmorland slate and several huge pieces of double glazed panels later, we were water tight in time for Christmas.

Roof trusses

A couple more weeks of plastering, electrics and plumbing and then the real fun started with choosing a kitchen and bathroom, wallpapers and colour schemes.  We had friends coming to visit so we set ourselves a moving in target for 17th February so every spare minute (which there aren’t many of) was spent painting, tiling, grouting and papering but as always, we did it (by the skin of our teeth!).

AandM blog 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking that now we had our lovely little home we would be sitting back and relaxing a bit, but oh no, we still had the not so small matter of renovating the second floor, where we used to live, into two luxury suites.  This was one of the most challenging aspects of the whole process as work could only be carried out after breakfast and before guests returned to their rooms each day, leaving a very short window for any of the ‘noisy’ jobs to be done and water and electric to be turned off.  Taking a bit longer and (a lot!) more money than originally planned,  this breathtaking pair of suites opened to guests on 14 July this year.


Now those of you that know us may be wondering what our son Joseph was doing whilst all this was going on, well he was studying for his GCSEs and despite the upheaval and disruption of living in a building site throughout, he got excellent results in the summer and is going on to study Chemistry, Biology and English Literature at A level.  Someone asked him recently if he would eventually take over the running of 1863 and his response was “Don’t be ridiculous, have you seen how hard these people work?”.


And yes, we do all work hard but it’s so rewarding when you get guests and customers coming back time and again not just for the amazing food and beautiful surroundings but because they want to be part of the 1863 story.  Now that the building work has finished we are going to reward ourselves with a little holiday to Italy and will hopefully come back refreshed and full of new and interesting ideas to try.


On a final note none of the above would have been possible without the amazing team we have around us so a big thank you to them all and of course to all of our guests and customers for your continued support.

See you soon

Mark & Anne


Winter Droving

Sat 28 October
Join the Herd! – a day of fire, animation, music and merriment

…including a traditional Cumbrian market featuring local food and drink, and high quality arts and crafts.

There are rural games such as tug of war and hay bale racing to win the Drovers Cup (currently held by AST Signs) as well as fantastic array of street entertainment.  Then as night falls welcome the mystical masked procession…featuring fire, music, mayhem and animals aplenty.

Now in its sixth year the Winter Droving has quickly established itself as a key event in the Cumbrian calendar, attracting thousands of people from all over the north. There are lots of opportunities to join in (carry a torch in the procession or enter a team into the Drovers Cup) or to simply stand around gawping and feeding your face and maybe throw a few coconuts about!!!

Join the Herd for a spectacular celebration of winter and Penrith’s agricultural heritage – illuminating Penrith with fire, animation, music and merriment.

Find out more…




On Tuesday 29 August, a memorial is to be unveiled to celebrate the Ullswater Preservation society and Norman Lord Birkett QC who, in 1962, saved Ullswater from becoming a reservoir.

The memorial is the seventh addition to the Ullswater Heritage Trail – a series of sculptures and installations along the Ullswater Way commemorating key moments in the lake’s (and the valley’s) history and masterminded, fundraised for and delivered by the Friends of the Ullswater Way.


In the early 1960’s Manchester Corporation Waterworks proposed the building of a weir on the river Eamont at Pooley Bridge, effectively creating a reservoir and increasing the level of the lake by some 3ft.


There was an immediate and vociferous public outcry – local residents formed the ‘Ullswater Preservation Society’ and quickly organized a petition of over 500,000 signatures.


Following the rare initiative of a Petition to the House of Lords, the proposal was debated on 8 February 1962. Passionate speeches from all sides of the House and most notably by Lord Birkett QC resulted in the proposals being thrown out.


Richard Inglewood whose father, the first Lord Inglewood, played a leading role in the campaign, commented: – “Lord Birkett’s powerful speech, “deeply felt and eloquent”, is rightly considered one of the finest in modern Parliamentary history and undoubtedly saved the lake “for all people for all time”. He died of a heart attack a few days later”


Miles MacInnes, whose late father Gurney was Treasurer of the Society added: – “This is a great David and Goliath story and one which should not be forgotten.  We are very grateful to United Utilities who have generously sponsored this impressive memorial.  We are delighted that Lord Birkett’s Grandson, Thomas Birkett is joining us in this celebration


The Memorial has been carved on local slate by well-known lettercarver Pip Hall; it has been erected on a popular view point near the Ullswater steamers pier in Pooley Bridge.



For further information or images, please contact Miles MacInnes
on 07718 523047  or at


Note for Editors.


  1. INVITE TO PRESS: The memorial is to be unveiled on Tuesday 29 August at 2.00pm. Map reference: NY 467 243.


  1. Quote from Lord Birkett’s speech:-


“Thus far and no farther. Go away. Come again another day, if you will. But in the meantime, do that which ought to have been done before. Produce the hydrological data on which the House can come to a proper decision. Until that is done, you have no right whatever to invade the sanctity of a National Park”.


  1. An inscription on the memorial -‘Si Monumentum Requiris Circumspice’ is taken from Christopher Wren’s monument in St Paul’s Cathedral and translates: – ‘If you seek his memorial – look around you’


It was chosen as being particularly appropriate by Richard, Lord Inglewood, whose father, William Vane MP (later the first Lord Inglewood) was instrumental in ensuring the success of the campaign.


  1. In 1965 a revised and much reduced scheme was approved following a Public Enquiry. Water is now taken from Ullswater by tunnel to Haweswater under strictly controlled conditions which prevent abstraction when water levels fall.  A huge underground pumping station at Parkfoot Holiday Park is largely unnoticed.


  1. Lord Birkett is also commemorated in the Ullswater Yacht Club’s ‘must do’ annual Birkett Trophy and a plaque on a lakeside cliff in Hallin wood.


  1. For details of Pip Hall’s work see


  1. This memorial is the seventh in a series of installations supported by the Friends of the Ullswater Way (FOUW) which was founded in March 2016, and involves all 5 parishes around Ullswater. It has raised almost £20,000 during the last year to finance art and heritage installations on the Ullswater Way Heritage Trail.


Full details on the work of FOUW can be found on their website (

The humble rowan and the Glorious Twelfth

As the end of August approaches, the bountiful summer season starts draws to a close with the last deliveries of Alan’s strawberries and blackcurrants. Without wishing the fine weather away, I can’t help but start to turn my mind to dishes with a slightly more autumnal feel. At this time of year, the hedgerows are starting to groan under the weight of brambles, blackberries, rosehips, elderberries and much more – a forager’s paradise. There have been many firsts for me in 2017, and this month was no exception. The humble rowan berry has come into my life. Though it may sound strange, it genuinely never occurred to me to forage for these little bunches of red and orange berries until suggested by our in-house ‘flower-fairy’ Pauline.

After further research, I’ve learnt that rowan berries feature prominently in nordic cookery. In true Scandi-style, they are pickled and turned into syrups –  a slightly different treatment compared to the rowan berry jelly with which we would more commonly associate the berries here in Cumbria.

NB: Please note that eaten raw these little berries do upset the liver so it is important they are cooked!

Talking of foraging, this month I stumbled across some home-made of Elderberry wine from 2010. At the time the wine was so tart it just got buried at the back of a cupboard…until now. The depth of flavour is somewhat satisfying, and it has mellowed beautifully. I’m looking forward to using this wine as a seasoning to an up-and-coming dish.

With glorious hedgerow delights comes the Glorious Twelfth.  The Glorious twelfth refers to August 12th – the first day of the shooting season in Great Britain. The game act of 1831 ensures the red grouse are left alone through the summer months while the young are still dependant on their mothers. The seasons then lasts until December. These birds generally have a diet consisting of moorland heather, which gives them a rich, distinctly gamey flavour which gradually develops over the course of the season. Our first grouse dish will be appearing on the menu on the 18th August from the upland fells and moors of the Borders. Keep an eye out on social media for updates!

And finally…as I type there’s  a clear blue sky and bright sunshine outside the window but I’m quietly turning my thoughts to colder months considering what the second 1863 Christmas menu will look like…

I found myself longing for a mince pie and some Christmas Cake the other day whilst putting pen to paper over this year’s festive preparations. The challenge I’ve set myself for this year is trying to create and deliver a menu that is suitably Christmas-sy and full of festive flavour, but that has the 1863 ‘twist’ and element of surprise.

Hold that thought and I’ll explain more next time.


‘Tis the Season for Foraging.

As the celebrated Wye Valley asparagus season comes to an end, our sumptuous, local strawberries are soaking up the Lake District sun while the yellow courgettes are bursting into bloom. We’re lucky enough to be supplied in the growing season by local green-fingered couple, Jean and Alan.  They supply us with some of the tastiest strawberries from their allotment two and half miles away in the pretty village of Watermillock.

Picture by Steve Barber
Picture by Steve Barber

As well as strawberries, Jean and Alan have also started to deliver the first of this season’s gooseberries. Both soft fruits are obviously making appearances on our summer menu but myself, Woody and the team are also making time to preserve some now for the less generous winter months.


The start of summer has also seen Team 1863 out foraging the iconic Lake District countryside for elderflower, meadow sweet and Angie’s alpine strawberries. You’ll be able to see the results of our hedgerow adventures over the coming weeks.

And finally a few words about one of my favourite fish of this time of year – herring. Personally I love herring and although it is not as readily available as it once was due to overfishing, I’m delighted that over the next few weeks you will be able to sample our take on soused herring; this traditional Scandinavian delicacy has been given the 1863 treatment with its mild soft flesh complimented by a carefully balanced cooking liquor.


If you’d like to see more of what we do, keep an eye on our kitchen team’s Instagram @1863_kitchen for all the goings on.

Team 1863 goes from strength to strength…

I’m truly delighted to share with you that Niall Frith, part of the kitchen team, has just been named joint winner of the UK Young Seafood Chef of the Year!!!

I’ve worked with Niall for the last three years in which time he has worked his way up the ladder; from KP’ing (Kitchen Porter-ing) his way through college to starting work with 1863 on a part time basis in June 2016, he also worked on the prestigious Culinary Team for Kendal College. We’re all so proud of how far he’s come and are looking forward to him joining Team 1863 full time as Chef de Partie this Summer.

Congratulations Niall!



Supplier Update

At 1863, we are totally committed to working with the very best local and regional suppliers. New partnerships this summer include:

Little Salkeld Watermill are supplying us with the flours we use in the restaurant to produce our artisan breads. The watermill is one of the country’s few working hydra-powered corn mills still producing stoneground flour the traditional way. They mill fully traceable British grains which are naturally lower in gluten than their American counterparts and most importantly, because they stoneground, they are bursting with flavor.

Nook Farm We are also using Borage Honey from Nook Farm in the Scottish Border town of Newcastleton. This will be infused with elderflowers and the result will be used later on in the year to create an elderflower honey ganache for our petit fours.

So there you have it – new suppliers, new season produce, new dishes and of course, new taste experiences here at 1863.

Hope to see you back here over the Summer





A recent addition to the Ullswater Valley food scene is celebrating an astonishing first year of business. 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms in Pooley Bridge opened its doors to guests in May 2016 with a flourish of Victorian-inspired chic and a keen young Head Chef eager to make waves on the Cumbrian food scene.

For over 150 years, 1863 has quite literally been a cornerstone of the village. The property is set in the heart of Pooley Bridge, a short walk from the shores of Ullswater. It was built first as the village blacksmith’s and later became the post office. Now reimagined for the 21st century, 1863 features a bar, bistro and seven elegant bedrooms. A family business, they say they enjoy getting the little things just right, welcoming guests back time and again to share in a slice of Lakeland paradise.

Twelve months on and ‘the proof’ as they say ‘is in the pudding.’ Over 10,000 locals and visitors from as far away as Hong Kong and New Zealand have enjoyed dinner in the Bistro while over 3500 have used 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms as a base for a short break to discover the beautiful Ullswater and Eden Valleys and of course the wider Lake District.

Meanwhile, over in the the Kitchen, the team is almost unrecognisable. One year ago, Head Chef, Phil Corrie was holding the fort on his own. Today, thanks to a lot of hard work and skill, Phil (25) is joined by four other chefs with a combined mean age of 19.6 years! Between them they’ve worked with 21 local, regional and national suppliers to create 104 different dishes plus 46 flavours of ice cream and sorbet.  That equates to over seven menus in 1863’s first year, or put another way, one new dish served every three days!

Head Chef Phil commented:
“To have the chance to be involved in a new business venture right from the off is on most Head Chefs’ bucket lists. I’ve enjoyed every moment of the last year and am so proud of all we’ve achieved together. I’ve particularly enjoyed the opportunity to create innovative, seasonal menus using produce that really is as local as it could be – Jean’s fantastic kitchen garden veg, Henry’s pungent mint and my mum’s raspberries!”

When asked what year two holds, Phil’s not resting on his laurels. The young chef and graduate of Kendal College is focussed on building and expanding 1863 Bistro’s reputation both with customers and critics while pushing and developing his young team on the technical front.

Previously known as Elm House Bed and Breakfast, 1863’s owners, Mark and Anne Vause, moved to the area from Blackburn in 2008 and spent eight years running the award-winning B&B. In November 2015, the entrepreneurial couple had already made the ambitious decision to close to undertake a £300,000 refurbishment project and relaunch in early Summer 2016 as 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms. Despite the dreadful storms of Winter 2015/16 and ensuing challenges, the establishment opened on time and on budget in late May.

Mark commented:
“Quite honestly – it’s been astonishing. You always hope that people are going to like what you’ve created but we’ve just been so taken aback at the support and appetite (!) our customers have for 1863. But perhaps beyond the welcome, the food and the rooms, I think maybe they appreciate that we’re a close knit team, we work hard and are constantly looking to the future and ways to make their visits to us unexpected and even more enjoyable.”

With a brand new summer menu out now, a newly expanded wine list due out in early July, two new luxury suites available from late July plus a series of popular Tasting Evenings throughout the year, there’s no sign that the 1863 pace is going to abate anytime soon.

1863 is open year round; the bar opens at 2pm with a ‘Bite to Eat’ menu, the bistro opens at 6pm daily. Booking is strongly advised for the Bistro. To book a table call 017684 86334.
For further information and the latest menu visit


For further information or images please contact Sam Bunting on
07866 492 891 or at

Notes to the Editor
• INVITE TO JOURNALISTS: If you’d like to come and review our Bistro, please contact Sam on 07866 492 891 to arrange a suitable time
• A selection of images is available here:
• Mark and Anne Vause are available for interview. Please contact Sam on 07866 492 891 or at to arrange a suitable time

Daff Fest 2017

This April Daff Fest returns to the Ullswater Valley for a second year. Enjoy a colourful series of that encourages everyone, both young and old, to delight in daffodils and enjoy spring time just as our local literary greats once did. From guided walks with Lake District National Park Rangers to garden tours, daffodil trails and a spot of theatre – there are plenty of reasons to visit England’s most beautiful lake over the next few weeks.

Click here for more information and all events.


On Fri 7 April, the eve of Ullswater’s second Daff Fest (8 – 30 April 2017), Pooley Bridge Village Hall welcomes local actor and Theatre by the Lake regular, Peter Macqueen (Enlightenment, The Lady of the Lake 2015) with his blooming marvellous one-man show, Old Herbaceous.


Pottering amongst the seeds and cuttings at the back of his ramshackle greenhouse in the garden of a Gloucestershire manor house is Herbert Pinnegar. Now in his twilight years, he’s full of memories and tales of a bygone era. In-between potting up and potting on, he recounts his journey from orphan boy to legendary head gardener ‘Old Herbaceous’ and tells of his friendship with the lady of the house, Mrs Charteris. Sown with seeds of gardening wisdom, this charming one man show is a love story – a humorous portrayal of a single-minded yet gentle man with a passion for plants.


Following sell-out runs at Theatre by the Lake in 2016, this is the first time that Old Herbaceous has come to the Ullswater Valley. It is also the first time the Ullswater Association has branched out to include theatre in the Daff Fest line up. Organisers hope that the combination of a pre-theatre dinner at 1863 followed by a performance of Old Herbacous literally across the road in the Parkin Memorial Hall will prove attractive to both locals and visitors alike. Pre-theatre dinner tickets are limited with just 16 remaining and all expected to sell well in advance of the evening itself.


Heather James, Chair of the Ullswater Association commented:

When we heard about ‘Old Herbaceous’ we just thought it was such a lovely fit for Daff Fest. We’re constantly trying to improve and expand the range of events during Daff Fest and very much hope that this will be the first of many theatre evenings to come.”



6pm: Pre-theatre dinner served at 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms

6.45pm: Doors open / Bar opens

7.30pm: Performance with one interval

Tickets cost £10 for theatre only and £30 for a two-course pre-theatre dinner at 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms in Pooley Bridge opposite the Parkin Memorial Hall.


The evening’s production is presented by the Ullswater Association and sponsored by 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms.  To find out how your business can get involved in 2017 and beyond please contact the Ullswater Association on


To book visit  For full listings of all events taking place as part of Daff Fest 2017, please visit




For further information or images, please contact Sam Bunting
on 07866 492 891 or




Notes to the Editor


  • Peter Macqueen is available for interview. To arrange a suitable time please contact Sam Bunting on 07866 492 891 or at


  • Heather James and Sue Wallace from the Ullswater Association are available for interview. To arrange a suitable time please contact Sam Bunting on 07866 492 891 or at