Hot date: Felbrigg Hall’s chilli festival

It was the hottest event in Norfolk and crowds flocked to it in their thousands.

This week's National Trust chilli festival at Felbrigg Hall saw a record turnout of up to 8,000 visitors who browsed their way around more than 50 stalls selling chilli-everything from chocolates and ice-cream to sausages and cheese.

'It was hugely, fantastically successful - our biggest one yet,' said Ray Sandham, property manager at the stately home, near Cromer.

The event, now in its fifth year, started with a modest dozen or so stalls and attracted about 500 visitors.

But Wednesday's hot sunshine brought out the chilli heat-lovers from as far afield as Dartmoor and Southampton, according to Mr Sandham.

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A major attraction proved to be a giant chilli and chocolate cake in the shape of a red chilli, measuring 10ft by 3ft. It was made by Felbrigg's catering team and took 14 people to carry. Visitors got a chance to sample the sponge which was cut into hundreds of pieces.

Chillis are given an SHU (Scoville Heat Units) rating according to their spicy heat, with bell peppers registering 0 and the hottest chilli, capsaicin, ranked at 15,000,000 to 16,000,000 SHU.

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Mr Sandham said there were varieties on sale at Felbrigg which ranked at about 855,000 on the SHU scale.

Felbrigg Village Hall will once again benefit from the popularity of the event as the National Trust invited its committee back to stage a fete in their grounds. In 2010 the fete proceeds kept the hall running for a year.

Some of the chilli stallholders will be returning to take part in a new venture on August 24 when Felbrigg Hall will host its first honey festival, from 11am to 5pm.

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