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What the locals really think of Knutsford

PUBLISHED: 16:56 15 May 2015 | UPDATED: 12:41 30 April 2016

Knutsford King Street

Knutsford King Street

Archant

It’s been declared as one of the best places to live in the UK. Rebekka O’Grady chats to residents of Knutsford to find out why this is such a great place to be

Sarah Flannery in KnutsfordSarah Flannery in Knutsford

Only three towns in the North West of England made the cut in this year’s Sunday Times ‘Top 50 Best Towns and Suburbs to Live’. To be considered, a town has to offer the best quality of life to the widest number of people with the combination of desirable features such as a positive community spirit, good local shops, services and attractive outdoor spaces. Of course, Knutsford has it all.

So what exactly is it about this Golden Triangle town that makes it such an appealing place to live? Sarah Flannery, founder and organiser of the Knutsford Promenades believes it’s due to Knutsford’s strengths as a cultural economy.

‘A cultural economy is vital to Knutsford. We have so much community spirit and heritage, which is continually developing,’ said Sarah, who founded the Promenades in 2013. This year, the free one-day event will be bigger and better than ever before.

‘I am a passionate advocate of the performing arts, and I started the Promenades as I wanted to create something that was capable of developing year after year,’ she said. ‘It has a vague name as the theme can change. This year, it will be Texts from the Front, where local stories linking Knutsford to conflict will be brought to life through dance, music and theatre.’

Sarah Flannery with puppet maker, Russell KirkSarah Flannery with puppet maker, Russell Kirk

Taking place in the town centre around Canute Place and Princess Street on July 4, the Knutsford Promenades promises to be a highlight in the summer calendar. ‘I look at places like Covent Garden, where there are events for people to get involved and take part in. It’s fantastic and I wanted the same for Knutsford,’ continued Sarah.

Cheshire East Council has provided Sarah with a £25,000 grant for this year’s Promenades, enabling her and the team to organise some spectacular events to be staged around various locations. ‘We’ll be telling seven stories across the day that start from the Crimean war to the conflicts in the present day,’ she said.

‘Professional and semi-professionals from national organisations will be participating, as well as local people up to the age of 70 and school children. We have three primary schools from the area with 100 pupils taking part in an opera. It’s going to be great.’

The pinnacle of the 2015 event will be the spectacular finale, which has been organised in collaboration with artist, Russell Kirk. Russell, an expert of puppets, has a workshop housed in the Old Gateway Theatre in Chester where he is currently working on constructing a 15 to 20 foot ‘Universal Solider’, which will connect all of the stories told throughout the day together.

‘The finale is going to be such a huge celebration of the day. We will have the Universal Soldier, singers – all sorts. There will also be a confetti canon that will scatter things that look like poppies,’ said Sarah. ‘It will be a destination event, we are expecting 1000’s of people to attend. I can’t wait; I already have ideas for next year in mind!’

Lizzie BragasonLizzie Bragason

 

Elizabeth Bragason

Elizabeth is an interior design consultant and owns a bespoke furniture painting business, Painted Pieces. She recently moved back to Knutsford in September 2014 after spending eight years in Luxembourg and two years in France. The business has now relocated within Knutsford Antiques on King Street – a family company which has been owned by Lizzie’s mum, Patricia McLeod for the past twenty years. Lizzie is also an exclusive stockist for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Why Knutsford?

We moved to Europe ten years ago because of my husband’s work. My children Daisy and Bo were babies when we left, but now they’re older we wanted to move back to be closer to family and good schools. Knutsford is a very transient place. It’s very trendy and fashionable – country living with an edge. Painted Pieces goes hand in hand with Knutsford Antiques to bring style, furnishing and a classic edge.

Dawn and Peter Freeman in their gardenDawn and Peter Freeman in their garden

What is Painted Pieces?

As an interior design consultant, people come to me when they have an idea but aren’t quite sure what to do with it. I’m here as a helping hand to develop their ideas for painting, fabric choice etc. I really enjoy it. I also run Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshops within the store every three weeks. I am the only stockist of the revolutionary paint within a 20 mile radius. The workshops are great as people get the confidence to learn how to do things themselves. That’s the beauty of the paint; you can use it as a blank canvas to transform something.

 

Peter and Dawn Freeman

Peter and Dawn Freeman have lived at Bucklow Farm since 1985. The couple have opened their beautiful country gardens as part of the National Gardens Scheme for the past ten years at their property which has been owned by Peter’s family since 1906. A former fifth generation farmer, Peter now works at Knutsford Methodist Church. The garden opens on June 14.

Why join the NGS?

Peter: We joined the National Garden Scheme as we have a lovely garden and wanted to share it with the other people. It’s also a good way to raise money for charity. I lost my father to cancer in 2002 and the NGS support a lot of cancer charities, so it seemed fitting. I think we have raised around £10,000 over the past decade for various charities, the NGS and the church.

How has the garden evolved?

Peter: The whole experience has gone quite quickly. When got married, the garden was a blank canvas, built on a former orchard. We started to build walls and steps and in 2000 we dug out the pond, excavated it and built up a rockery with stones from Macclesfield. The box hedging in the rose and herb garden has all grown from one plant – we have good sandy soil.

When we dug up an area we found a Victorian cobbled yard we didn’t know existed. Nothing was planned – it’s all just organically developed over the years. The garden is best in June and July as all the roses are out then. August we like to have a rest!

Advice?

Peter: Just go for it. If you feel like you’ve got something to share with others then do it. We’ve worked really hard and it’s so nice to share as sometimes gardening can be so personal.

Dawn: It can be nerve wracking at first when you think what people might say! You do get a rewarding feeling thought when people make positive comments and can pick up ideas and inspiration from your garden.

 

 

 

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