Three brothers unveil new wedding venue in historic Norfolk parkland
PUBLISHED: 11:30 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:31 03 August 2018
Weddings will open Worstead Park for first time in decades
For as long as anyone can remember, it has been a woodyard.
Trees grown on the surrounding Worstead Estate were measured and sawn to make fencing and gateposts for the Paterson family farm in east Norfolk.
Until a few years ago, the piercing sound of blades still echoed off the ancient brick walls and nearby thatched barn until the saws finally fell silent and the woodyard drifted into disrepair.
But now, three brothers are giving the historic buildings a new lease of life by transforming the site into a wedding venue.
The Patersons - Gavin, 37, Alex, 35 and Bruce, 32 - are spearheading a renovation project that will see the old woodyard cleaned up, barns and outhouses refurbished and a magnificent walled garden revived to host weddings.
The plan - recently given the go-ahead by North Norfolk District Council and supported by an EU Rural Development Programme Grant made by the Broads Local Action Group - sees a long-held dream for the Paterson family come to fruition.
The first wedding reception, following a marriage ceremony at a local church, will be held this month with the full venue ready for licensed wedding ceremonies next summer.
Gavin explained: “The woodyard and buildings date from the Georgian period, perhaps even earlier, and with the bewitching walled garden and woodland leading down to the lake, it is a marvellous setting for a wedding.
“The buildings have been redundant for a few years but this project will see them revived as a wedding venue. People can now come on to the estate and enjoy the park for the first time in decades.”
The Paterson family has been farming in Norfolk since the 1930s. Its dairy herd became one of the most famous in the land, winning virtually every top honour for dairy cattle for the best part of six decades.
Eventually, in 2011, the prize-winning herd was sold and the business became more focused on arable, beef cattle, renewable energy and property. The Worstead Park wedding venue is the latest phase of the transformation.
Gavin said: “The project is a new and diversified strand to a third-generation family business, allowing us as three brothers - young farmers and our families - to remain actively engaged in the business.
“But there will also be other benefits too; as well as returning a redundant building to economic use, it will create employment, bring money into the local economy and save a beautiful heritage asset – the park and associated 18th century buildings - from dilapidation.
Worstead Estate, and the woodyard, first came into the family’s ownership in the 1950s, purchased by their grandfather from the Harmsworth newspaper family. Legend has it that the family held their nerve against a late mystery bid, suspected to have been from members of the Royal family.
It is the impressive Georgian thatched barn – converted to host up to 110 guests for wedding receptions – that will sit at the heart of the project. The outdoor area includes a walled garden, and restored pathways through meadow leading down to the lake, boathouse and lake island.
The park is in a beautiful setting. The entrance – near the village of Worstead - is through an avenue of lime trees, bordered by a blaze of yellow from daffodils in the spring. As the year progresses wildflower meadows bloom and rhododendrons flower in shades of pink, white and purple.
Visitors will see ducks, swans, and herons on the lake and grazing Highland Cattle across the parkland.
A bridge to an island is being restored, with future options for ceremonies to take place there, along with the opportunity for a bride and her father to arrive at the venue via boat on the lake, while the nearby Gardener’s Cottage has been renovated as accommodation for guests.
Worstead Park wedding venue is staging an invitation-only taster event on August 26 for couples and relatives planning weddings in the near future, plus local florists, caterers, entertainers, wedding planners and other wedding services. For more details worsteadestate.com