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Haslemere Hall

February 17, 2023

Haslemere Hall

Haslemere Hall is an independently run Arts Venue in Haslemere town centre that hosts musical theatre and live music performances, plus cinema screenings. We chatted with Haslemere Hall’s General Manager, Howard Bicknell, to find out more about what goes on there and a glimpse into its colourful history.

Tell us a bit about Haslemere Hall

Haslemere Hall is a fully equipped theatre seating approximately 340 in the main auditorium with an upper balcony. There are regular cinema showings of current films and live streamed events, plus a popular annual panto. It is also used for lectures, meetings and events. Not to mention a licensed bar!

What are some of the things we can expect to see at Haslemere Hall?

For several years now, Haslemere Hall has been able to stream events via satellite from a wide variety of venues and production companies from the UK and worldwide, including the UK’s very own National Theatre, so that visitors can see the performance live, in real time.

This allows them to literally have the best seat in the house. It also means, of course that the audience can see a big show from their local area at a fraction of the West End prices. We also have a packed schedule of music from live bands to tribute acts, plus orchestral and choral concerts.

And it’s become a popular destination for watching the latest cinema releases?

Yes. When the Rex cinema in Haslemere closed its doors, the Trustees decided to introduce film shows in conjunction with Southern Cinema Services. All the latest releases are shown on several days each month and the Hall has also branched out to include specialist screenings and started to show more independent films and documentaries as well as foreign films that are subtitled. We’re committed to showing films that don’t necessarily have big backers and budgets but have a great story with an important message.

It’s quite a multipurpose space, isn’t it?

Yes, the Hall also provides the home for many local societies, clubs, charities and theatre schools. It offers them a place to meet, rehearse, listen to guest speakers, dance and host parties and award ceremonies.


Can you tell us a little about its history?

The Hall was founded in 1912 by local benefactor Barclay Lewis Day. He decided to build a Hall with his own money and invited well-known architects to submit their plans in a competition for the best design. The winning design was by Annesley Brownrigg F.R.I.B.A. The early 1900s saw the tail end of the Arts and Crafts Movement in England, and the design reflects this influence, such as a particularly fine curved stone staircase leading to the upper Rotunda sitting out area and balcony.

The Hall was officially opened in January 1914. The opening coincided with the outbreak of World War I and for the first four years of its life, the Hall was requisitioned by the War Office and used as drill hall for the troops.

How did your involvement with the Hall come about?

I was born and brought up in Haslemere and when I moved back in 2010 I found myself drawn back to Haslemere Hall, which for me had been a bit of a home from home in my teenage and early twenties. I had enjoyed both rehearsals and performing on the stage with the Haslemere Players, and with the Haslemere Thespians in musicals, plays and pantomimes.

Coming on board as Manager has been both amazing and challenging. We have a great team here and work with some brilliant volunteers too. Since updating and upgrading the facilities and also rebranding, I feel like we are now rising like a Phoenix after Covid - working and developing our knowledge of our customers and what they would like to see. It’s a fantastic place to work and every day is different.


What are the main challenges with running this kind of venue?

A building that is over 100 years old constantly requires attention in the form of repairs and renewals. Improvements and modernisation work are undertaken as funds permit. The ‘Friends of Haslemere Hall’ was set up as a way for local people to contribute to its upkeep and hopefully a flourishing future.

Give us a flavour of what is coming up at Haslemere Hall this year?

There will be live screenings from the National Theatre, opera from the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare, ballet, drama, thrillers and all-time family favourites. Plus, we’ll be welcoming live bands alongside choral concerts and showing a mix of all the latest cinema releases. There really is something for everyone.


Finally, can you share with us some of your favourite businesses in Haslemere

I’m a big fan of Charter Walk Kitchen Living – such a great team of people who provide an excellent service and product. They take the time to learn who you are and they’re specialists in all they do. You can count on Oliver’s Coffee Shop & Wine Bar for friendly, quick service and first-rate food. They’re also a caring, inspiring business, involved with the community. Finally, Couchman Hanson Solicitors – approachable, knowledgeable and always willing to give helpful advice.

Find out more:

Haslemere Hall, Bridge Road, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2AS

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Clare Watson, Turmeric House

Local Inspiration - Tumeric House

February 17, 2023

Local Inspiration - Clare Watson, Turmeric House

This month we speak to Clare Watson from Turmeric House, a Surrey-based concept and creative studio specialising in the styling and design of beautiful spaces.

What exactly is Turmeric House?

We are an independent creative studio that creates stand-out spaces, shoots and builds that are founded on a culture of collaboration. We offer everything from styling of events and environments, to commercial photo shoots, art direction, private/commercial fit outs and brand storytelling. We work with retail and hospitality outlets, private clients, photographers and magazine editors to create spaces with soul that take users on a journey.
A space that tells a story, but also functions with beautiful design.

Retail and hospitality spaces have had to change a lot over the past couple of years, how have you helped businesses adapt?

I’ve been so impressed by how open businesses have been to change actually, but sometimes, when you’re working in an environment every day, operating in a certain way for so long, it’s difficult to identify ways you can adapt to different circumstances.

Turmeric House is all about how you don’t need four walls to create a space. One of the local marquee companies I work with understandably took a huge hit with events and weddings being cancelled so I suggested to a restaurant client that they convert their carpark into a gorgeous urban pop-up. That meant they could operate when only public outdoor dining was allowed and it gave the marquee company some ongoing business. The cross over between industries has been remarkable.

I’ve also helped businesses to incorporate all the changes and new health & safety guidelines but in line with their own branding, so it doesn’t take away from the essence of their space. We’ve been forced so far out the box that it makes everything even more possible.

And what about in people’s homes?

We’ve all had to reassess how we feel about and use our own spaces. Our homes have had to evolve to make space for working from home, schooling from home, exercising from home etc. and this can really change the dynamic and flow of how we live in, and use our space.

While some of these activities have, and will continue to, return to areas outside our home environments, many will remain. Moving forward, this will change the way we interact with our spaces and how we welcome people into our homes, so it’s about helping people figure out how best to do that.

You’ve styled shoots and celebrity homes for features in magazines like Vogue, Ok!, NME and Surrey Life, what’s that like?

I love all shoots, it’s exciting and a privilege to get a sneak peek into the home lives of celebrities & interesting inspiring individuals and because they’re usually in their own homes, they’re really relaxed and welcoming. But it is work at the end of the day so it’s not like we can just sit around chatting (although we do have a natter here and there) Shoots are full on and can spread over a few days with set up and take down, but they are great fun
and I love sourcing props and being able to include amazing finds from local independent businesses that I love.

What things should people be thinking about when it comes to interior styling of their own homes?

There is no right or wrong to how you choose to live in your home, it’s about emotions and  how you’re home makes you feel. People can get in such a funk about interior styling and layout but there’s no need. My advice is to just try things in different places, if you don’t like something somewhere, then move it. And above all, surround yourself with things you love and bring you joy. People can get bogged down with clutter but I live amongst a lot of my props and things I have sourced for events and shoots (such as a fairground horse we had built for a shoot) but the important thing is that it all makes me feel great & surrounds me with great memories and stories.

What top tips would you give people on home styling?

  • Don’t forget your entry hallway. It’s often dismissed as somewhere you simply walk through to get into the main living areas of your home but it is the first place you come to and you can often spend time there greeting guests as they take off their shoes and coats etc. Therefore, it’s important to make it a welcoming space. Candles and room sprays can help create a nice aroma, while a piece of much-loved artwork will give a lovely hint at your style personality, as well as a talking point for guests as they arrive.
  • Layering is key. Creating layers of interest within a home is a good way of incorporating all your favourite things without it looking cluttered. Use shelves and places like the coffee table to display some of your favourite things. For example, on a coffee table you might place a couple of your favourite books on a tray and then an ornament or a vase with your favourite flowers on top of the books.
  • Think about all the senses. The feeling a space creates isn’t just about what you can see. It’s about the smell, touch and sound too. So, play music softly, light a candle or have a diffuser on display and fill your space with gorgeous fabrics and tactile objects that mean something to you and tell a story.

As we enter the festive season how should we be looking to create a fabulous space in which to dine with guests?

Christmas really lends itself to great styling. Layer fruits and nuts or items you’ve foraged from the garden or on walks on the table, dip the rims of your glasses with icing sugar to give them that festive glint, layered candles are a must and when it comes to glassware and
cutlery, don’t panic if you’ve not got enough that matches, mix your finest with your everyday – you’re with friends and family after all.

What local companies do you enjoy working with and/or recommend?

I source a lot for shoots from Wattle and Daub in Godalming and often fall in love with pieces so end up buying them for myself! I also get visual merchandise and styling ideas from libby at &Hobbs, also Thomas Ford & Sons is a lovely family-run kitchen shop in Ripley and I also love Haus in Haslemere. Sprout Surrey is also a great hub for sustainable businesses with green fingers. There are so many incredible creatives I am inspired by.

Find out more:

You can find out more about Clare and Turmeric House’s services at and you can get style inspiration for your own home by following @turmerichouse on instagram.

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The Drunken Jockeys

local inspiration - drunken jokeys

February 17, 2023

Local Inspiration - The Drunken Jockeys

This month we shine the light on a Surrey hospitality business that has gone to new levels during lockdown.

Born from the belief that a bar should be much more than simply a place to get a drink, The Drunken Jockeys launched in 2018 by three best friends, Zack Goodall, Will Burchill and Will Isaacs. Prior to the pandemic their mobile cocktail business was thriving but, when lockdown hit, cancelling weddings and events (their core market), the three business partners were forced to think outside the box. Creative director, Zack Goodall, explains more.

Who are The Drunken Jockeys?

We create mobile bars that transport guests to a world of fun with a great drink in hand.
We provide a full bar for weddings, public events, corporate events and private parties and we make impeccable cocktails for guests to enjoy. My background is in set design and heritage management, Will Burchill is our mixologist extraordinaire and also a great photographer and Will Isaacs basically lives and breathes the business and is a great people person and manager.

How did the company start?

We felt that at every wedding or pop-up event we attended, the bar was basically just a trestle table with bottles on it – there was no imagination there. No one spent time at the bar, it was just a place to grab a drink. So, we built our first bar, Arabella, by converting a dusty old horsebox (hence our name) with the idea being that we’d take it around to different events and cause a bit of a stir. We based ourselves down at Shred & Butta in Cobham, which builds and converts vehicles into creative spaces, and we’re still there. We’ve since converted an old American ambulance and an old American postal van into a self-service pulling station. We build our bar ranges around finds from antiques fairs, such as Ardingly and Kempton. Sticking true to our original concept, our custom designed modular system allows us to create solid looking pieces, that are both flatpack and extendable. It's pretty exciting stuff, keep your eyes peeled for more bar releases in the near future.

How did the business evolve during lockdown

Well, we had a full year of weddings and events planned but, of course, we couldn’t do any of those, so we were fully expecting that our business might collapse overnight. We felt so bad for our wedding clients, many of which not only lost out on their big day but were also left out of pocket by suppliers that went bust because of the pandemic. So, we sent them some cocktails in jam jars to cheer them up, realising that, with pubs and bars shut, it was actually a really good business idea. Soon we were making and delivering 300 cocktails each weekend. We began to collaborate with local businesses and, before long, big brands were interested, which opened the doors to the corporate market. We now deliver our menu of cocktails and mocktails nationwide and even as far as Malta, Germany and Denmark and host virtual and masterclasses too.

What are your top tips for anyone booking a bar for an event or wedding?

  • Invest in a look. It doesn’t have to be for the whole party (there’s a certain luxury in subtlety) but for elements, such as the food and drink or décor.
  • Invest in suppliers and trust them.
  • Keep the menu small and high quality.
  • Glassware is key – there’s a big difference between cut glass and other forms of glassware. It can really change everything.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to organise and find the right supplier

So, what’s next for The Drunken Jockeys?

We are so thankful that we have become one of lockdown’s success stories and, because we are all best mates, it really doesn’t feel like we’re going to work (although we do work incredibly hard). Weddings and events are now back on so we are busier than ever with those, but the cocktail delivery service will remain, as will our virtual masterclasses. We’re looking forward to more collaborations and we’re also working on a new project but at the moment it’s top secret, so you’ll have to keep an eye on our social channels to find out more!

Find out more:

Follow The Drunken Jockeys on Instagram @thedrunkenjockeys and you can find out more about their cocktail delivery and mobile bar service at:

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Susie Evans

Local inspiration - Susie Evans

February 17, 2023

Local Inspiration - Susie Evans

It’s been a tough time for the wedding industry of late. As she celebrates her 10th year as a wedding planner in Surrey, Susie Evans discusses the highs and lows of the past year.

How did you become a wedding planner?

I previously worked in investment banking and insurance but knew balancing a career in finance with having a family would not be easy. So, I began looking for something that would enable me to be a mum and still work. When my husband and I got married there were no companies in the Surrey/Sussex area that helped style weddings and so that’s where the story began, wedding styling. Five or so years later, I moved into wedding planning and venue consultation and this year marks the 10th anniversary of Susie Evans Weddings Co.

What makes a good wedding planner?

You need to be organised, of course, you need to have an eye for detail and good contacts –

collaboration is most certainly key. But it’s about much more than that. It’s about really understanding your client and also being open and honest with them and their families, who are usually very involved, particularly in at home marquee weddings, which is what I specialise in. Being able to mitigate when necessary is a good skill – and that’s most definitely been put into effect this past year.

Without dwelling too much, how have you coped this past year?

We are slowly coming out the other side and there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel but it has been the hardest year ever. I have cried so many tears with couples as their hopes and dreams have been crushed multiple times ­– some of my clients have had their weddings postponed five or more times. However, the ups and downs have taught me so much and my business is stronger that it has ever been. I’ve even expanded and taken on a new member of staff, Libby, who has been a god-send plus we’ve had quite a few bookings for post-Covid marquee garden parties this summer!

What makes marquee weddings so special?

They are a completely blank canvas. You can create the day you want and are not restricted by a venue’s specific stipulations, so usual traditions can go out the window (if you want them to). They are also a real family affair. It’s really special getting married at a family home or a location that is particularly special to the couple. A marquee wedding isn’t necessarily cheaper as you are in essence creating a wedding venue from scratch, but it does allow you to have exactly what you want.

What are your top tips for a marquee wedding?

Make use of your garden space and don’t worry about obstacles you think might prevent you from having a marquee wedding at home – marquees can be built over almost anything. We’ve planned weddings where marquees have been built over swimming pools and even a ha-ha. Anything is possible. Marquee weddings are more logistically challenging though, so it’s an idea to get help to avoid extra stress leading up to the big day.

And finally, what local businesses do you like to collaborate with?

Mad Lilies in Banstead [which we showcased last month] has been a huge part of my success and has made me realise how important it is to have a friendship with my suppliers, as well as a business relationship. Other local companies who are amazing and we use time and time again to create amazing weddings for our couples are Inside Outside Marquees, Drunken Jockeys, Two Many Cooks and Caper & Berry.

Find out more:

Find out more about Susie Evans Weddings Co services at and you can follow her on Instagram @susieevans.

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Mad Lilies

Local inspiration - Mad Lilies

February 17, 2023

Local Inspiration - Mad Lilies

A queen of collaboration, Alison Howe, of Mad Lilies in Banstead, loves nothing more than supporting local businesses and was recently awarded for her efforts with a national High Street Hero award. In the latest of our Local Inspiration series we find out how she got into floristry, what it’s been like for the industry over the past year and why flowers are such a wonderful addition to a home.

How did you become a florist?

Flowers are a big part of my heritage – my late mum and grandmother owned a floristry business in Belfast together when I was growing up – but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-forties that I began to wonder if I too had the floristry gene.

I previously worked in sales and marketing for pharmaceutical but after my mother died in 2011, I decided to enrol in a floristry course with Jane Packer, and five minutes in, I knew I too had to forge a career in flowers.

Why Banstead?

Starting from scratch aged 44 was not going to be easy so I decided it was best to find an established business to buy, which I could then take in the direction I wanted. Easier said than done – the search took a long time.

But, then I got a call about a business that was up for sale in Banstead, called Mad Lilies. Living in London, I had no idea where Banstead was but my grandmother’s name was Lily so it felt like a sign and, following a four-month handover, I took the keys in February 2013.

 My husband Darren and I moved into a renovated pub in the Surrey countryside and have never looked back. We love all Surrey has to offer, as do our dogs Duffy and Dougal, and you’ll often find us foraging for foliage, berries and flowers in the countryside.

Tell us about your recent High Street Hero award…

The Small Awards is organised annually by Small Business Britain, which champions, inspires and accelerates small businesses in the UK across all sectors. We found out we’d been shortlisted along with four other businesses for the High Street Hero category in April.  On May 13 there was a virtual ceremony and I was surprised at my door with the award and a delivery of cocktails and nibbles.

We will continue working with our community to build awareness of the high street and showcase the fabulous independent businesses we have in Banstead and Surrey. We love a collaboration and not only do we see the business benefit from them but we enjoy learning and developing from other local businesses as we all evolve to meet consumer needs.

It’s an amazing accolade to have won, particularly in such a tough year…

Thank you. Yes, it’s been an incredibly tough year. The first lockdown was announced the week before Mother’s Day, which is the biggest day in the floristry calendar. Weddings were, of course also off the cards, which is a massive part of the business so we were hit hard.

But the team worked hard to get Mother’s Day deliveries out before we went into lockdown and, while the shop had to close, it soon became apparent we would be able to do deliveries and we became quite busy with orders from people gifting bouquets to loved ones they weren’t able to visit.

Like many other businesses, we diversified and created a flower subscription service, Bare Naked Stems, and we also hid jam jars of flowers across Surrey for people to find and take home as random acts of kindness. As well as flowers, we stock all sorts of lovely homeware and gifts in the shop so lockdown was also a catalyst for getting our Mad Lilies at Home collection online.

You’ve been called the Queen of Collaboration, what businesses do you enjoy partnering with and why? 

There’s something quite exceptional about the High Street’s small and independent shops in how open they are to supporting one another.

Throughout lockdown, we partnered with other Banstead businesses such as Fego, Café Chai and Louisa Grace to cross promote wherever possible. We did a Valentine’s Day meal kit with food supplied by Two Many Cooks and cocktails from the Drunken Jockeys. We also had a Tea Towel designed by Surrey Illustrator Lisa Tolley to promote all that is great about Banstead and then we worked with local illustrator Lewis Woodham, from Wood&Ham to create an illustration of our shop for our gift cards that go out with our bouquets.

We also collaborated with Gayas Cakes and Cai & Kyn on our Here’s to Hugs gift set which included a bouquet, brownies, a gift card and candle.

How do flowers enhance a home and what tips would you give people to enhance their longevity?

There’s a lot of research out there to suggest that flowers and house plants offer health benefits; they relieve stress and lift your mood. Plus, they enhance any form of celebration, however large or small. My top tips are:

  • If budget allows, buy flowers from a florist like Mad Lilies instead of a supermarket. Not only are you supporting small, local businesses but you’ll also find more unusual stems and they will last longer as the flowers will usually have been delivered to the florist that day and so haven’t already sat there for some time.
  • Always change the water (don’t just refill) and re-trim the stems every couple of days.
  • Keep the flowers as cool as possible, so don’t put near radiators or direct sunlight

Where you'll find them

84 High Street, Banstead,
Surrey SM7 2NN