The idea to open a wedding venue first crept up on my wife and I a few years ago. It would be great if we could claim some moment of inspiration, some magic spark, that started this whole adventure, but the truth is the idea was just sort of there one day.
When we started casually discussing the idea of creating a venue it felt like a natural progression of our experience and skills. Having worked as a professional wedding photographer for over eight years I have been lucky enough to shoot at some amazing venues all around the world and as a neutral observer you often get to peek behind the curtains of a wedding day to see how it all comes together. Kirsty and I would often discuss what makes a venue really stand out and what we would do differently. Once we decided to take the idea seriously it was amazing how quickly what is now known as Hanbury Wedding Barns began to gather momentum.
Having decided to take the plunge the first step was to find somewhere suitable. We brain stormed a list of requirements that would not only make for an amazing venue but would also satisfy the considerable legal hoops we would have to jump through to get the doors open. Top of the list the venue needed to have stacks of character and charm, it needed beautiful surroundings, it needed good road access, it needed not to have close neighbours, it needed good size barns that could be converted, it needed to have room for parking and it needed to be centrally located in the country. The list went on and on. We looked for months and gradually expanded our search from around our home in Derbyshire, past the High Peak, past Cheshire to as far as Sheffield to our east and Burton on Trent to our south. After nearly 8 months scouring websites and driving round farm tracks we finally found Parsons Brake Farm in Hanbury.
We were blown away, it looked good on paper and on first visit it was clear that it was exactly what we were looking for. It had the classic Staffordshire red brick, two ponds, set in acres and acres of the National Forest, and even its own island! It had tons of potential. Sadly, it was also terribly neglected. The farm house had been occupied up to a few years ago but the actual barns had been empty for a good while and nature had crept in. What wasn’t bramble was bamboo. This was going to be a big job just to clear it.
We completed the purchase in October 2017 and we started to really flesh out the design for the venue. Although we had a good idea how the venue was to be structured to fit the natural flow of a wedding day it was time to nail down the details. Where exactly was the kitchen to be? What about parking? The new road access? How do we go about preserving the features of the farm that make it special? How do we protect and enhance the native plants? What can we do to make the venue kind to the environment and local wildlife? Plenty of food for thought to be sure.
Although we could not do much before we had planning permission once we had clearance from our ecological team we got to making the site safe. The years had not been kind there were patches of concrete and metal work that had to be carefully taken down for fear of them collapsing.
Also we set to work on the wider maintenance of the farm, including updating the network infrastructure and coverage, sorting out the terrible duckweed infestation of the main pond, emptying the drain sumps and clearing the trees and other plants that were damaging the buildings.
And that brings us up to date! We have plenty more to share over the coming weeks including progress pictures and some of our concept art for the finished venue so watch here for updates.