2022 marks an important milestone for Crockwell as we celebrate, unbelievably, our 20th year hosting weddings. It seems surreal to have reached this anniversary, yet at the same time it’s hard to remember a time when weddings weren’t part of our fabric.
Now feels an appropriate moment to reflect on all that has happened in the past 20 years, on how weddings at Crockwell came to be, and to look forward and let you know what our plans, hopes and aspirations are for the next 20.
It also felt an important time to thank our past couples, our regular suppliers and past team for all that they have done. We have had the most incredible experiences on this journey but the absolute highlight has been getting to know those who we have met, and had the privilege of hosting over the years. Seeing happy clients is an irreplaceable feeling. In May, we held a party for our regular suppliers, past couples and our incredible team.
If you are familiar with Crockwell, you will know that we are a truly family run and founded business. Crockwell owners, Bay & Hermione hosted the first weddings here in 2002 and gradually and organically, the offering and business grew.
It’s worth retreating further in time though, to the 1970’s when Bay first took on the farm for the beginning of this tale. At the time, the farm was a purely agricultural operation, tended to by Bay from his family home in Kings Sutton. The farmhouse at Crockwell was derelict having lain empty for some time and so when Bay made the permanent move to make this place his home, it was into a single bedroom and basic kitchen in an otherwise dilapidated and very old (300 years in fact) farmhouse.
Bay and his new wife, Hemione, set about restoring the farmhouse to its former glory while also raising a young family and simultaneously striving to make the mixed farm viable. This was a stiff ask and in the late 1990’s, it became clear that in order to be commercially viable, the business needed to either expand or diversify.
After a failed attempt to acquire more land, diversification became the favoured (yet far more risky) route. With fast growing experience in managing building refurbishments, Bay & Hermione set about transforming the very beautiful but crumbling ironstone 17th century lambing barn into a party barn with adjacent temporary marquee for hosting events, and the farm buildings into B&B cottages.
It’s worth adding here that Hermione had some respectable credentials for a move to hospitality, having worked as a private chef for over a decade for clients including Princess Anne at Gatcombe estate. Having hosted their first few guests, enquiries for parties and soon, a wedding or two filtered in and thus Crockwell Weddings were born.
The weddings business has grown slowly and surely since the early 2000’s driven by Bay & Hermione and more recently also their daughter, Amy. At the heart of the offering has always been a fastidious attention to detail and focus on the individual couples’ vision and dreams for their day. At no point could you describe Crockwell as a “dry hire” venue; that’s not our bag. What drives us is a desire to provide a completely personal and hands on experience for our couples; one where you will be familiar with our team on first name terms, where our clients feel ultimately that their wedding is being placed in very safe hands and that the experience of planning a wedding becomes a pleasure and not a chore.
For Bay and Hermione and now Amy and husband Joe, the wedding business at Crockwell is all consuming. It is not something that we can offer from a distance, or delegate to others. We know that what sets Crockwell apart and makes it so special is the level of care and attention that goes in. It is Hermione’s passion for gardening which is reflected in the beautiful surroundings, year round. It is our desire for a unique experience for couples from the point of booking through to departure the day after their wedding; from a first show round through exclusive Open Evenings, Tasters and planning meetings which are hosted by us and our hand picked team. It is by only offering the venue exclusively over two days and nights, allowing couples and their families a truly home from home stay. It is being small enough to really get to know our couples.
These are the things that you will read about in feedback from our clients from 2002 to 2022. They are the constants that have not, and will not change when it comes to weddings at Crockwell.
What has changed are our facilities. Throughout the 20 years, we have continued to develop the venue, on a perpetual journey of reinvestment and improvement. The projects are too numerous to mention but from a basic marquee in a grain barn in 2002, to the facilities we have today the venue has improved almost beyond recognition.
Our most recent spate of improvements fell in 2020, a year to be remembered for all the wrong reasons but thankfully for us, one in which we made the most significant investments and improvements to date; refurbishing our bar, adding underfloor heating throughout and adding a dedicated breakfast room and bridal prep room. In 2021, we refitted our dedicated dancefloor with beautiful ivory draping, trailing foliage and festoon lighting.
The development of the venue and future investment is an area that has for the past five years, been taken on by Amy who works alongside father, Bay and her husband, Joe in planning upcoming projects and further improving our offering. It is an area that, from 20 years in the industry we know only too well is absolutely crucial.
As we look to the future, our most urgent and important priorities lie in building on the solid foundations that Bay & Hermione have put in place; in continuing to host incredible weddings and offering a truly bespoke service to our clients. In many ways, nothing will change. Our small but brilliant team continues to grow and develop overseen by Amy & Hermione, ensuring that the meticulous attention and personal touches endure. Projects and developments also continue. We have the next five years mapped out and some truly exciting plans in the pipeline.
One of these developments is a move to the farm for Amy & Joe and their young family (do you get the feeling that history is repeating)? Crockwell is a magical place to be. It is a magical place to marry, and to raise a family. The Farmhouse is now predominantly host to wedding guests, and so Amy & Joe are converting an old agricultural barn on site. At the same, time, Bay & Hermione are planning a short move away from the farm, though not to retirement (we’re not sure that will ever happen, they are too busy)! Therefore our next project will be to dedicate the entire farmhouse to wedding guests. This will be a big change and we think, incredibly helpful for our future clients. It will further improve our already substantial accommodation offering and will add some magic, with guests being able to make use of the large comfortable farmhouse kitchen and dining room throughout their stay.
In all future developments and operations of wedding at Crockwell there is a heavy emphasis on sustainability. While highly topical in recent times, it is an area that Bay has paid due diligence to throughout, installing solar panels and a biomass boiler to heat and power the venue in past developments. Now though, the responsibility to future generations has never been greater and Amy & Joe are determined to ensure that the venue’s impact on both the local and wider environment is minimal. This is a responsibility that spans both the venue and the farm which this year is growing a record area of wild flowers and grasses.
So as we look to the future, you can expect from Crockwell more of what has come before. More incredible weddings. The same dedication from our family. The same small and brilliant team; the same bespoke service for our couples. The same cycle of reinvestment and improvement. The same focus on sustainability as we look to improve and develop, in harmony with our surroundings.