Tomfoolery at Wimpole Hall

Wimpole Hall was designed by Soane
Wimpole Hall

Tom-foolery at Wimpole 21 and 22 August

Tomato enthusiasts can see, smell and taste over 50 different varieties of one of Britain’s best loved fruits at Wimpole Home Farm’s tenth Tomato Festival this month.

Varieties for sampling include ‘orange strawberry’, a heart-shaped, deep orange tomato with a strong and sweet taste, and ‘black zebra’ , a deep burgundy tomato with a sweet, juicy taste.

Tomato experts can offer advice and encouragement on growing and enjoying home-grown tomatoes, and there will be many stalls and games for visitors to enjoy.

Tomatoes ripening. NTPL Photo: Stephen Robson.

Tomatoes ripening. NTPL Photo: Stephen Robson.

Philip Whaites, head gardener at the National Trust’s Wimpole Hall, said, “… Tomatoes are a wonderful, diverse fruit which can be easily grown in a sunny spot in your garden. We’ll have expert growers on hand to offer advice, and there will be new recipes for visitors to take away to try.”

One such recipe is Wimpole tomato and basil ice cream, created by Paul Massingham, the National Trust’s catering adviser for the region.  He said, “It sounds odd, but this concoction tastes delicious… tomatoes… (are) so versatile.

“This recipe is particularly great if you have a glut of tomatoes and need to use them up. To make it successfully, and so that the results aren’t too bitter, it’s best to make your own tomato puree.  The best way to do this is by roasting the tomatoes, then sieving them.”

The restaurant at Wimpole will be selling tomato inspired recipes for visitors to enjoy through the weekend.

Wimpole Tomato and Basil Ice Cream

*     150ml/5fl double cream
*     75ml/2.5fl oz tomato puree (home made)
*     150ml/5fl oz milk
*     5 free-range eggs yolks
*     175g caster sugar
*     2 finely chopped basil leaves


  1. Place the cream, tomato puree and milk in a saucepan and heat gently until on the verge of boiling.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until well combined.
  3. Slowly add the hot cream mixture, continuing to whisk as you do so.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, add the basil and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Be careful not to let the mixture get too hot or it might split.
  5. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Transfer to an airtight container and put into the freezer for at least two hours, stirring every thirty minutes to prevent ice crystals forming.

The tomato festival at Wimpole runs from 10.30am to 5.00 pm on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 August.  Normal admission prices apply, for full details visit here:

As well as the Tomfoolery Festival, here are some other exhibitions now at Wimpole

•    Vegetables and flowers in the Walled Garden
•    Pelargoniums flowering in the Parterre
•    2,000 Dahlia flowering in the Walled Garden
•    Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables in the Walled Garden


With community growing spaces – from allotments to kitchen gardens – at over 50 locations around the country, The National Trust is thoroughly involved in the whole food chain. It runs some 500,000 acres of food producing land, over 150 restaurants and tearooms, and owns many historic kitchen gardens, orchards and mills.

These spaces inspire the Trust’s 3.8 million members, 60,000 volunteers, and many thousands of visitors to think and learn about food.

The National Trust is creating 1,000 new allotment plots on its land in the next three years to give local communities the space to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  Find out more about the 1,000 new allotment plots on National Trust land where local communities can have space to grow their own fruit and vegetables: