Business & Entrepreneurs

Dunham Massey children’s play site Red House Farm is to close

By David Prior at

Popular children’s play site Red House Farm has announced it is to close later this year.

The Dunham Massey venue said that “regulatory requirements and associated costs of running a children’s play site” had made the operation “no longer viable”. It said it had taken the decision “with considerable regret”.

With effect from November 4th, the 155-acre farm will no longer be open for party activities and the farm shop, café and play area will be closing. It will then continue as a working farm.

Jonathan Hewitt, ‘Director of Fun & Chaos’, has run Red House Farm for the last 18 years

Dunham Massey-born Jonathan Hewitt, the farm’s “Director of Fun and Chaos”, said he had hosted over 3,000 parties at the farm in the 18 years he had run the business.

An official statement on the farm’s Facebook page read: “The site will continue as normal until the end of the Halloween event, and we stress that all existing obligations including functions and birthday parties will be honoured. We have birthday parties booked in until Sun 3rd November, which will be the final day of public opening.”

The physiotherapist, chiropractor and reflexologist services currently based at the farm will remain there, as will yoga and exercise classes.

The farm shop, café and play area will all be closing from November 4th

The statement continued: “It’s a decision we’ve taken with considerable regret, however each passing year has seen a significant increase in running costs. We’ve made every attempt to streamline our offering, but we have been left with no resource to invest in improving our facilities and it’s become increasingly difficult to maintain standards. As we head into turbulent economic times, the closure of other similar operations in the area in recent months has provided a stark indication of the state of the sector.

“We’d like to thank all our patrons through the years, and hope you all have fond memories of spending time with your families at Red House Farm.”

The Maize Maze has been a hugely popular annual attraction at the farm since 2002

Hewitt has run the farm since 2001, when he was approached by his future father-in-law Alan Clare to help him revive the farm after the foot and mouth crisis. The Clare family have been tenants at the National Trust-owned farm for centuries.

Hewitt said he was “extremely sad” to be leaving but that his overwhelming emotion was one of “gratitude”.

He added: “I don’t know what the future holds for me – after all, when you have been the Director of Fun & Chaos for 18 years, where exactly do you go from there? I will be spending the next few months trying to figure that out. The future is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. But the friendships and relationships from the Red House Community have enriched my life immeasurably. And I’ve had a ball! So Thank You. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.”