The first time I visited Redlands Yard in Broadwindsor, I was suitably impressed. I walked into a courtyard boasting a dizzying array of independent shops and celebrated restaurant The Stableyard, so popular that yes, you must book for lunch.
What several decades ago used to be a farmyard has over the years grown into a thriving, shopping spot where you can have your hair cut or grab yourself a manicure and some much-needed me time.
Sarah Williams and her husband Colin bought Redlands Craft Centre almost six years ago. Adding several new units to the courtyard and one pandemic later, Redlands Yard is not just surviving, its thriving.
“It’s serendipity,” said Sarah. “I was born into a farming family in Broadwindsor and I worked part time at the restaurant in Redlands Craft Centre while I was at school and then college. I just loved it there. As an adult, the craft centre was a place I would take my nan for lunch and spend some time, and of course Colin sometimes came too.
“We were living in Petersfield with our children, and I began to miss home. I missed the beauty of this part of the world. My mum was poorly, and I wanted to be close to my dad. So, when Redlands Craft Centre came up for sale, I was so excited, I could see so much potential and just wanted to buy it.
“Although Redlands Craft Centre had planning permission for housing, I wanted to create something which I could look after and pass on to the next generation. When we finally bought it, it was like a dream come true.
“My dad, Ralph, became really involved in the project, which was a blessing after my mum passed away, and he would be found wearing a pinnie in the restaurant waiting on tables or helping revamp the new units. It has a real family feel and a warm and friendly atmosphere. Redlands is a very special place to visit.”
The journey of Redlands Yard began in 1986, when developers created a new space from the redundant farm buildings where locals and visitors could enjoy spending an afternoon exploring submerged in arts and crafts and enjoy a light lunch.
In 2002, the centre underwent a major transformation with a quarried stone extension and in 2012 the Gallery of Makers was added to its ranks.
Sarah said: “Currently, all our units are full and is a community of independent traders, an abundance of gifts for yourself or someone you love, good food and a deli full of locally produced and regionally sourced food and drink.
“I want Redlands Yard, to continue to provide a welcoming atmosphere, a friendly experience and a place where many happy memories will be made, for years to come.”
Sarah owns Foxy Cottage, the lifestyle gift shop which has been at Redlands since 1986 and is the perfect place to find that unique and special gift for someone you love or a treat for yourself.
Among other shops, include Dimensions Hair Studio, The Painted Nail, Earth Design, which has been at the centre since 1986, Hunny Bunnies Crafts, Fabric and Haberdashery owned by Alison and Sue and new shop Pets and Plants, which was due to open on Tuesday, October 18.
Sue and Kevin Mason, the owners of the new shop Pets and Plants, who will be selling a host of exotic and seasonal plants along feed and supplies for small pets and fish, were busy updating their unit before opening this week.
Kevin said: “We are looking forward to opening on Tuesday. Redlands Yard is a nice environment to be in and is in a good catchment area. We will be selling Christmas Trees from November.”
Alison of Hunny Bunnies said: “Like Sarah, I feel it was meant to be. About 35 years ago, when I was living in Egham in Surrey with my family, I remember coming here when I was on holiday and staying with my mum who lives in Chard, and saying, ‘I would love a little unit here’ and now, 35 years later, here I am.
“I sell craft things and fabrics, embroidery and haberdashery for people to make quilts, friendship bracelets, clothes or blankets.
“I also make things for people who want a hand-made baby blanket or children’s clothing.”
Alison, who opened Hunny Bunnies at Redlands Yard six months ago, also makes fancy dress tutu s, which are a colourful welcome outside her pretty shop she shares with Sue and her dog Emmie.
She said: “Most people come in to see my lurcher Emmie, who is half Greyhound and half Bedlington Terrier!”
For more information about the yard visit https://redlandsyard.co.uk/