As the dust settles on the final Cornbury festival, Tim Hughes sits down with director Hugh Phillimore, and asks what might come next...

Hugh Phillimore relaxes backstage, smiles and looks out at the festival he created.

Behind him, on the other side of a wire fence and row of flags, 14,000 people laugh, sing, dance and chat – or just flop on picnic blankets, enjoying the music, company and the sunshine.

It has been one of the hottest weekends of the summer, and, as we sit in the shade, one of Oxfordshire’s best-loved music festivals is coming to an end. Not just for the year, but forever. Or is it?

Set up 14 years ago as a civilized antidote to the likes of Glastonbury and Reading, Cornbury Festival pioneered that shift away from crusty rock and dance events frequented largely by indie-kids, ravers, stoners, beer monsters and weekend hippies, towards a more genteel affair.

Pimms and bubbly bars, good food and celebrity revellers may be the norm now, but Cornbury was among the first to reclaim festival-going for the middle-class and middle-aged – earning itself the affectionate sobriquet ‘Poshstock’.

Now, Hugh has decided it has run its course and, in his words, is having a break. But with the dust now settling on the most successful weekend in its history, the question on everyone’s lips is why... and is this really the end of Poshstock?

“People have been asking me that all weekend,” smiles Hugh, who looks content and surprisingly calm given the mammoth logistical operation he has just masterminded.

“Everyone wants to know when it’s coming back.”

After a perfect weekend which saw standout performances from Bryan Adams, Kaiser Chiefs, Jools Holland and The Pretenders, among almost 50 other bands and artists, it’s a reasonable query.

“I am relieved it has gone so well, but now I need a break,” he says. “This has been a lovely way to lose money and definitely time to bow out gracefully.

“The decision was made and we did the best we could.”

The festival has repeatedly struggled to turn a profit. In its second year, Hugh says, it lost half a million pounds. Hugh had to put his house up for sale. He has since lost his shirt on numerous occasions, the event only going into the black on one other year.

“We made money on our 10th anniversary in 2013,” he says. “But we have also made some thumping losses.”

In 2010 festival management company Cornbury Music Festival Ltd, went into liquidation, owing debts to entertainers (Paul Simon was owed a reported £33,000) and previous host Cornbury Park – from which it took its name.

The festival sprung up again at Great Tew, the estate remaining its home until Sunday’s grand finale.

Over the years the festival has played host to some legendary artists: Van Morrison, Robert Plant, Blondie, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones, Elvis Costello and Martha Reeves to name a few. Some of its biggest names are no longer with us – a young Amy Winehouse, Joe Cocker and Humphrey Lyttleton all gracing its rolling acres.

“The money we have spent on artists is incredible,” he says. “We have never skimped on the line-up.

“A lot of festivals have two names at the top you recognise and then a load of names you’ve never heard of. We have always spent a lot on artists, even when we have lost loads, because this is a festival for music-lovers. You can see people hurrying from stage to stage, as soon as one band finishes to catch the next.

“It may be ‘uncool’ but I don’t think anyone would be ashamed to have been seen here.”

So has Hugh enjoyed it?

“You always enjoy things in retrospect,” he says. “I look back and remember getting a sweet kiss from Amy Winehouse, a bear hug from Joe Cocker and a lovely compliment from Mike Scott from Waterboys – ‘he called it a ‘quintessentially English, inclusive event’.

“I had an interesting time with Robert Plant negotiating his overtime fee when he had to play over because The Waterboys cancelled – he wanted £500 a minute, which would have amounted to £7,500 – but we settled on £5,000.

“Another special moment was hearing Elvis Costello dedicate Shipbuilding to someone who had died in the July 7 2005 London bombings. Very poignant.”

He goes on: “I haven’t enjoyed the stress, though.

“There have always been worries over money and whether everyone is safe, and to be honest, the bits I have enjoyed the most have been the Monday mornings the day after it has finished.

“This last weekend I did enjoy it more, though, and saw 90 per cent of the bands, even for just a song, which was definitely a first.”

Ironically, given the event’s financially troubled past, this year’s was a huge success, selling out and turning a profit.

“We sold a lot of tickets,” says Hugh. “But however big the profit, it doesn’t pay off the the debts. Those 14 years of debts don’t go away in a year.”

He smiles. “My daughter Rose and I are planning to tour all the festivals next summer, and if I think of something we can do on a smaller scale with less risks, I’ll do it. We’ll go away, have a think and come back with something different in a while. A bit like all things, it needs refreshing. We’ll change some things around and make it a bit smaller.”

He goes on: “It has been a lovely, beautiful festival with great line-ups and an amazing atmosphere and it would be good to repeat it on a smaller scale. Especially if someone comes up with the money.

“Cornbury has been going longer than my marriage; I was a single man when it began. I’ve spent 14 years getting it right. And it is uncomplicated and totally uncool – and I like it for that. Robert Plant once said to me: ‘Your festival is a bit beige’. I asked him what he meant and he said ‘Deacon Blue!’ That’s fine though. It should be a festival for everybody.”

After 14 years of year-round festival planning, along with his regular job of booking artists, comedians and DJs for corporate, public and private events – and organising parties for Royals and the very rich and famous – he is relishing a little extra time for himself.

“I want to know what it’s like not doing it,” he smiles. “And not having 12 months of anxiety is appealing. I’ll step back for a year and see. After all, things change and I might get bored!”