Best rural Xmas barns
Embrace an indie Crimbo with these plucky barns, awash with Xmas trees, gifts and accessories across the counties.
OK I can’t put it off any more. You may have noticed already that the big local heritage houses offering Christmas markets, but if you don’t want to pay entrance fees and all that malarkey, your other option is to embrace the indie Christmas barns, plucky individuals who pitch themselves against the big boys every year.
I’ve loved watching the steady expansion of Stratton Audley Christmas Barn in Stratton Audley (just North of Bicester) over the last few years – starting from a single room of Christmassy stuff, to then incorporate a cafe, and now an added barn room, plus a gelato space for summer.
A big draw of this Christmas barn is its price accessibility – it’s not your place for designer this-and-that (you can head to Bicester Village for that), but this is the place is rammed to the gunnels with special decorations…
good value accessories like hats, scarves and jewellery…
There’s also a good range of pressies for men, plus that all-important range of humorous stocking fillers.
From Dec 1 they also sell Christmas trees – a 6 second Facebook vid they posted last year, where one of their sons dived through the tree wrapper had something like 24 million views!
Finally, there’s a quiet, relaxed cafe there with barista coffee and feel-good food like cakes and paninis, before you head on your way.
If you’re not familiar with Stratton Audley it’s a small, pretty village with a lovely church and a sweet-looking pub just to the north of Bicester, but if you’re thinking of coming in from further afield to take a look, maybe tie it in with a trip to Claydon House or Stowe Landscape Gardens with kids, or Rousham Gardens without (minimum age for ankle biters is 15 – by which stage they’re grunting rather than biting). Good pubs around that area The Nut Tree in Murcot (Michelin-starred but not crazily priced), and closest of all, The Muddy Duck in Hethe, just a few miles away. If you know you’re not going to make it to Stratton Audley over the next month other plucky local indie Christmas Barns include:
The Christmas Shop at Nicholson’s, North Aston (North Oxon) – Christmas Trees home delivered and set up ready for you to decorate, plus wreaths, decorations and lights – all in the best possible taste. Nicolsons also holds its own Christmas Fair on Sat 2 Dec.
The Tree Barn in Christmas Common, near Watlington (South Oxon) – supplier to No 10 Downing St in 2011, 13 and 15, with a huge range of trees available from Sat 25 Nov, plus gifts. Open 7 days a week until 3pm Christmas Eve.
The Tythe Barn in Haddenham (mid Bucks) – particularly strong on decorations, plus the visiting reindeer are a draw for kids (open Thurs to Sun). Wrap up warm, there’s no heating!
Appleton Christmas Barn, Abingdon (South Oxon) – This family business has been growing and selling Christmas Trees for 50 years. There’s the obligatory gift shop, plus Tiny Tim, a fully grown reindeer.OPen daily until Christmas Eve, with fresh cut Christmas trees available now.
West Farm Barns Launton Road Stratton Audley, Nr Bicester, OX27 9AS. Tel: 01869 278184. strattonaudleychristmasbarn.co.uk