Cretingham Country Park: 'Our vision is Soho House meets Center Parcs'

Staff members Tony, Elliot, Sophy and Lou of Kingfishers Country Park at Cretingham 

Staff members Tony, Elliot, Sophy and Lou of Kingfishers Country Park at Cretingham - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Spring has just arrived, and typically it’s the time of year that signals new beginnings. The trees regrow their leaves, flowers start to bloom, and lambing season begins.  

And over in east Suffolk, one business has just thrown open its doors following an ongoing refurbishment that it hopes will rejuvenate a breath of fresh air into the local area.  

Cretingham Country Park has been closed since Christmas after undergoing a series of changes that are aimed to help support local people and promote Suffolk businesses.  

Cretingham Country Park has just undergone a refurb ahead of this summer

Cretingham Country Park has just undergone a refurb ahead of this summer - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“We really want this to be a multi-generational destination in Suffolk,” explains events manager Sophy Croskell. 

Following a well-attended Christmas bazaar last December, the team at Cretingham realised the demand for a one-stop-shop day out that offers something for all of the family – and soon got to work.  

“Our festive event was incredibly successful, even in spite of lockdown and its uncertainties. It drove a significant amount of traffic to us, including people who’d never come this way before, and it’s led to some of the work that’s gone on recently,” adds director Claire Thacker.  

Formerly Cretingham Golf Club, the land was purchased by husband-and-wife duo Matthew and Claire Thacker in 2018 who had big visions for the place.  

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“We’re in a really stunning setting, and when we bought the place, the vision was ‘Soho House meets Center Parcs’,” says Sophy. 

Kingfishers Country Park in Cretingham sees itself as a place where the whole family can enjoy a day out

Kingfishers Country Park in Cretingham sees itself as a place where the whole family can enjoy a day out - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“We see it as a place where you can come with your children - they can play while the parents can have a nice glass of wine. Whether you’re staying with us or shopping with us, it’s somewhere for the whole family.”  

Some of these new additions include an on-site yoga and meditation studio, an interiors studio, a deli, a new adventure playground, a live music marquee in the woodland, and a regular farmers’ market. 

“We’ve teamed up with interior designer Kristy Collins who is opening her interior design studio and lifestyle shop here. We also plan to run a series of classes including yoga and wellness sessions both indoors and outdoors, as well as various pre-school classes for under-fives,” says Claire.  

Prior to the refurbishment, Cretingham was best known for its nine-hole golf club and accommodation which includes log cabins, shepherds' huts, glamping bell tents, and near-wild camping pitches.  

Cretingham Country Park will feature a new interiors shop

Cretingham Country Park will feature a new interiors shop - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“We opened up our glamping site last year, following the boom in staycations here in Suffolk – and we’ve got a hobbit house that we recently built, too,” adds Sophy.  

Utilising its sprawling 122 acres, the team is also planning to make the most what looks to be a summer free from covid restrictions and host a number of outdoor pop-up events over the coming months.  

Breakfast at Cretingham Country Park

Breakfast at Cretingham Country Park - Credit: Charlotte Bond

“We’ve got a new area opening in our woodland called The Nest where we’re going to do events in collaboration with a local company, Human Nature Events. Our first one, called Get Sprung, will be taking place Easter Friday, and we’ll have a number of local bands playing. There will also be DJs and Champagne bars,” says Sophy. 

“We’re hoping to do events like that every quarter – think outdoor dining experiences down in the woodland, and a food festival on the bank holiday weekend,” adds Claire.  

A new deli will specialise in locally-sourced fare and produce

A new deli will specialise in locally-sourced fare and produce - Credit: Charlotte Bond

There will also be an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday, with pop-up food vendors on-site.  

“Ultimately, we want to create a community hub to get people across the country to come and enjoy Suffolk. We’ve got lots of lovely outdoor areas, and we’re feeling really hopeful about this summer,” she says.  

To find out more, visit kingfisherscretingham.co.uk