At KITTCHEN we specialise in Cumbrian produce and love our fabulous local suppliers. For our first blog entry, and just in time for #CumbriaDay, we visited Jumping Jenny, based just down the road at Belmount Hall in Outgate, who makes all of our delicious, mouthwatering cakes & traybakes.
Belmount Hall is a building like no other. Once owned by Beatrix Potter, the Grade II Listed Georgian house is now home to our remarkably talented cake maker Gillie, and her soup wizard husband, Chris. Gillie and Chris, who previously ran Jumping Jenny Coffee House and Licensed Restaurant at Brantwood, Coniston, operate Belmount as a wedding and events venue, and bed and breakfast. Situated at Outgate, Lake District, Belmount Hall is surrounded by spectacular scenery, the building itself overflowing with elegance and charm. After admiring the captivating exterior of the house and its beautiful grounds on my journey to and from work each day, I was delighted when Emma, Luke and I were invited for a look around.
When we arrived at Belmount, we were greeted by Gillie, and led through the pristine grounds to the main entrance. Straight away, there was a welcoming and homely atmosphere to the building: a house of warmth and happiness and love. We entered into the main hall where we met up with Chris, accompanied by Jeffrey, one of their lovely black Labradors. A fine grand piano stands in the room to the left of the hall, which guests can often be found playing. It was there that we were introduced to Murphy the cat! To the right of the hall is a large drawing room, perfectly decorated to suit the style and feel of the house. Large windows in both rooms allow an abundance of natural light to illuminate the inside; this is revealed to be consistent throughout the whole building.
Proceeding with the tour, the thought and care put into each and every detail became evident. So many of the furnishings had a story behind them, a great deal of them having been sourced locally. A mirror in the Bridal Suite belonged to their daughter while she studied at university; Belgian stained glass was installed by a previous owner of Belmount, Reverend Dr Whittaker who was vicar of Blackburn; beautiful black and white photographs hanging in the bar were from a regular customer of the cafe at Brantwood when it was run by Gillie and Chris; and the bar top was crafted out of wooden boards found in the barn.
I think we all fell in love a bit when we reached the main attraction, Gillie’s kitchen! A huge workspace with a fabulous stainless steel centre island and an Aga. It was fruitcake made in this Aga that converted me into a fruit cake lover! In fact, it is impossible not to absolutely adore anything Gillie bakes. From her Great Taste Award winning Anzac biscuits, to her millionaire’s shortbread described in the Times Magazine as having to be ‘tasted to be believed’, to her incredibly delicious brownies, which are gluten free (although you could never tell!).
The effort Gillie and Chris put into restoring the house, which had been unoccupied for six years, is nothing short of astonishing. It was explained that the Georgian building had not been fully restored since it was given to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter in 1943. Damp walls had just been covered up, classic wooden bannisters spattered with paint, and stunning slate floors had been cemented and carpeted. Gillie explained, however, that even in its derelict state Belmount was still endearing: like an old lady who wanted to be loved. It took Gillie and Chris two years to fully renovate Belmount to the immaculate condition it is in today.
Boasting 6 spectacular guest rooms, all with impressive views, it is no surprise Belmount is such a popular events venue. The West Barn ‘Indoor marquee’ can seat 90 people and is adjoined to the ‘anteroom’, which is used for the wedding ceremony, and for music and dancing. With a marquee on the west lawn, weddings for up to 160 people may be accommodated, with the West Barn Rooms being used for the ceremony and evening party. The collective atmosphere such large groups bring to the village of Hawkshead is outstanding, especially wedding parties gathered by the superbly located St Michael and All Angels Church.
Belmount is a truly first class venue for any occasion, and it was an absolute pleasure to be shown around. -Polly, Front of House Manager
Contact Belmount for more info here: