Do you dream of spending the Christmas in a country manor? They don't come more magical than this! Decorated in traditional red and green, the timeless interiors of the Greaves family 19th century home in the Cotswolds ooze timeless charm and elegance. As the director of The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds – held every year at Daylesford Organic Farm – the festive period is a busy time for Lucy, so it's important that her home is a relaxing, cosy space.
Who lives here? Lucy (right) and Richard Greaves. Lucy is the director of The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds, and Richard owns a chemical company. The couple have four grown-up sons and two grandchildren – Cleofé, two, and Finley, just two months old.
Property The house, a former estate manager’s home built in around 1850, is part of a country estate, near Chipping Norton. There are six bedrooms and three reception rooms.
What they did The couple did mainly decorative work, painting walls, adding soft furnishings and hanging curtains to make it their own.
Lucy Greaves loves Christmas; it’s her favourite time of year. As soon as one year’s festivities are over, she’s busy planning the next, from January right through to November. Christmas shopping is her year-round pursuit.
It’s not that she’s a crazy Christmas lady – far from it – but for the past 30 years Lucy has masterminded The Christmas Fair in the Cotswolds from her Oxfordshire home. It takes place in early November and there are over 200 stallholders selling all kinds of crafted goods including: fashion, homeware, art, crafts, foods and drinks.
‘Everything I’ve always done has been for charity,’ says Lucy, explaining the concept of the fair. ‘It’s a bit like buying a charity Christmas card – if you’re buying gifts, why not buy them from somewhere that gives a proportion of the price you pay to charity? If you saw it on a website it would be the same price, or more, but at the fair 10 per cent goes to WellChild, which helps seriously ill children and their families.’
Lucy started the event in her previous home, inviting a few friends and a handful of makers, but the event has grown so big it now takes place in one of the fields at Daylesford Organic Farm.
As the fair was growing, so Lucy’s family grew and about 20 years ago she and husband Richard found themselves looking for a home with more space for their four young boys. When the village butcher told them about this country house tied to the local estate, they couldn’t believe their luck.
‘I always wanted a big family and a large family home with space for lots of parties, and this was perfect. I love being out in the country,’ says Lucy. The family moved from a compact cottage with just two bedrooms, to one with many more rooms to furnish, and Lucy soon became adept at trawling antiques markets, auctions and secondhand stores for the right pieces of furniture to fill the space, which she’d then have reupholstered or restored to give them a new lease of life.
She became quite a regular at her local auctions. ‘The dealers didn’t like the competition,’ she says. ‘If you’re bidding against a dealer, you know you’ve got a good buy, because they’re only going to put it in their shop and double the price, but there was no way I was going to have priceless antiques here. It had to be comfortable, and withstand family life.’
Lucy’s quest for unique products and makers for the fair became an extension of her sourcing items for her own home. ‘I wouldn’t choose things for the fair that I wouldn’t be delighted to own myself,’ she says, ‘and in fact I’ve often bought things for my house from the fair, or tried things out here to see how they appealed to friends and family before booking them as stallholders.’
How does that impact on this very traditional country estate home? With accessories from so many different makers, and furniture and furnishings from salerooms and antiques markets, there’s a danger the overall look could be somewhat eclectic, even disparate. However, the impression is calm and harmonious – partly due to the neutral backdrop of warm white walls that Lucy favours, creating a blank canvas to which she can add new cushions and fabrics to refresh the look.
She has an excellent eye for interior design and a particularly elegant style. She calls it ‘modern classic – quite traditional but with a contemporary angle,’ adding, ‘I try not to have too much. I’ve got pictures everywhere, particularly of the boys, but that’s because this is essentially a family home more than anything else.’
The contemporary edge comes from her constant updates to the rooms with new accessories bought at the fair.
When the gates close on this year’s fair, Lucy will take a deep breath and start planning her own family’s Christmas. ‘We’ll have my daughter-in-law Lauren’s family here from Canada, with her three siblings and their families, her parents, our four boys and their partners, and our two grandchildren,’ she says.
‘But I love having the family around me, I adore entertaining and I love Christmas. This house is perfect for all those things.’ And, of course, it won’t be long before Lucy is back in Christmas mode and starting to make choices about the stalls for next year.