Ad Gefrin will be a destination like no other, and we cannot wait to welcome visitors from both near and far. This project is something that the whole Ferguson family feels passionate about. This is a story of regeneration, redevelopment, and stimulating potential. Our collective ambition is to give something wonderful back to our roots, into an area that has given us so much. In embracing all that the Golden Age stood for in terms of connectedness, cultural exchange and hospitality, we hope that Ad Gefrin brings people together and instils a sense of belonging.
That we will create an extraordinary visitor experience characterised by memorable hospitality is a given. That we will create a world-class single malt whisky as the hero product of a suite of spirits is our aspiration. That we will build a destination that is ‘owned’ supported and celebrated by the people of Wooler, that further enhances pride in our Northumbrian heritage and sparks optimism for our future – that is our promise.
“Everything we do, everything we create is born to bring people together.”
The team responsible for realising Ad Gefrin is world class. Together we are delivering a destination that whilst echoing the aesthetic of the great halls of Northumbrian kings who lived here centuries ago, will marry the latest technological efficiencies and sustainable design practices with meticulous attention to detail, the innovative use of traditional and contemporary materials and the finest of finishes.
The building design team is led by Northumbrian architect, Richard Elphick supported by Todd Milburn, Red Fox, and JCP. Whilst the interiors are the inspiration of internationally renowned Studio MB of Edinburgh, and the lighting, the domain of Michael Grubb Studio. Our stills are being made by fourth generation family firm, Forsyths Ltd, who have designed, built, and supplied distillation equipment around the world.
From early in the construction phase, under the watchful eye of Brims Construction Ltd, we have been supporting local companies and craftspeople. Many hands are going into making Ad Gefrin and our individual heroes are too many to mention, so many of them local, and all of them able to take pride in the quality of their workmanship and attention to detail. They are all integral to the statement building we are creating.
Our inspiration comes from Northumbria’s Golden Age, a time when nearby Gefrin (Yeavering) was the 7th Century summer residence of its Anglo Saxon Kings and Queens; a time when kingdoms were defined by people not geography; a time when royalty were judged by their generosity not their wealth; a time when people travelled from North Africa, Europe, and Scandinavia to be part of the rich culture of the Northumbrian court; a time of welcome, celebration and hospitality.
Discovered in 1949, but now pasture, the historical site of Gefrin (Yeavering), was excavated by archaeologist Brian Hope-Taylor between 1953-1962 revealing a huge complex of large timber halls, a unique wooden grandstand and support buildings that make the palace one the most important archaeological sites of the 20th Century.
This was the home of Aethelfrith, Edwin and Aethelburga, the saintly Oswald, and his younger brother Oswy. For a century this ‘field’ became the stage for some of the most momentous events in early northern English history, including the first conversions to Christianity.
Bede, writing his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in AD 731, recounts a time when Edwin and his queen Aethelburga were residing at Yeavering, where her Italian bishop, Paulinus, spent 36 days: ‘Catechising and baptising: during which days, from morning to night, he did nothing else but instruct the crowds who flocked to him from every village and district in the teaching of Christ, and when instructed, he washed them in the water of absolution in the river Glen, nearby’.
Today the scheduled archaeological site at Yeavering is under the ownership and management of The Gefrin Trust. The Trust was formed to ensure the future preservation of the site through sympathetic management, conservation, and investigation. We are working in partnership with The Gefrin Trust to further illuminate the importance of the archaeological site within our exhibition.
This is the brainchild of Alan and Eileen, supported by the whole of the Ferguson family – an amalgamation of the local Redpath and Ferguson lineages – part of the fabric of Northumberland as a major family run business for almost 100 years.
The site was originally owned by Eileen’s family and operated as Redpath Bros. Haulage from the 1920s until 1998. "What we as a family recognised was the opportunity to build a vibrant new visitor destination and export business that will spur the reinvigoration of the town. As a family, we are proud of our heritage and birth right, inspired by our past; future-facing and committed to sustainability."
This is a new legacy in the making – creating an enterprise that will give back to the Wooler community for generations to come.
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