The majestic setting of Elmfield Estate near Gilford in County Down received a very special visit when Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, attended Elmfield Whole Food and Wellbeing Market in the grounds of the estate.
It was clear to all in attendance that the Earl and Countess thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed warm atmosphere during the visit, as they chatted with local traders about a wide range of food produce and sustainable living crafts, as well as engaging with the facilitators of the wellbeing taster experiences.
The Royal guests were visibly intrigued by the personal stories of the traders and facilitators in attendance, and took a keen interest in the unique qualities of many of the items on display and being demonstrated.
Speaking after the visit, Armagh City, Banbridge, and Craigavon Borough Lord Mayor Glenn Barr said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be part of the Royal visit today at Elmfield Market in the magnificent courtyard setting of Elmfield Estate.
“The market, created by the Shaw family, is an authentic and truly inspiring initiative that celebrates all that is good about local producers and craft artisans, firmly establishing this region as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland.
“The Royal visit today clearly affirms what I have always known, we are privileged in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough to have visionary entrepreneurs like the Shaw family, who have created something truly unique to showcase a sustainable and holistic approach to food, health and wellbeing, and by so doing have achieved this memorable market experience.
“It was a delight to see the genuine interest and engagement from the Royal visitors today.”
The market is part of a bigger enterprise at Elmfield Estate, which comprises a Scottish Baronial style house and 18th century courtyards and gardens, where a new Wellness Centre is located, and it is here that the Royal party were provided with a number of engaging taster demonstrations that have been designed to nourish the mind, body and soul, which they enjoyed.
Jane Shaw, psychologist and educator, and founder of Elmfield market, said: “Today our family home was openly enriched by the generosity, support and presence of the Earl and Countess of Wessex, which means a tremendous amount to us personally, our local community, talented producers and contributors.
“I travelled the world looking for a property to set up a wellness centre before realising my childhood home Elmfield was the perfect sanctuary, and although it may have taken me many years to realise this vision for the estate, the Royal visit today has deepened my belief that what we are doing here is something very special.
“As society opens up after the pandemic, taking care of our health has never been so important.
“Our vision for Elmfield Market is to create a place that not only celebrates the wonderful local whole foods, home-grown produce and artisan producers but also shares knowledge of traditional healthy living.
“The purity of our traders produce and their natural, sustainable ethos combined with my experience of bringing together experts in mind body health, I believe we are creating something exceptionally exciting.”
In the early 1960s Jane’s parents, Derek and Ann Shaw, rescued the estate from near dereliction.
They spent the following decades restoring the house, gardens and farm in its entirety.
The wholefood market makes for a perfect blend of Derek’s local and international farming and agribusiness history, with Jane’s diversification from farming to wellbeing.
Derek and Ann are still very much involved in the running of the estate and its business, including supporting Jane as the driving force in renovating the estate’s courtyards.
Visitors to the market in the historic estate can enjoy browsing the stalls, sip a coffee with friends, sample the street food, listen to live music in the cobbled courtyard, try a wellbeing taster experience, or take a stroll around the gardens.
n Elmfield Market takes place on the second Saturday of each month from 10am-3pm.