Your wedding day can’t be anything but special if you choose Crow’s Hall as your very own historic Suffolk venue. You’ll never forget the smiles on your guests’ faces when you looked back at them across the moat as you went over the Tudor bridge to the gardens. You’ll make your mark, having your celebrations in the ancient vaulted barn just the way you them. You’ll look back in years to come at your vision, hard-work and all the support that made it happen.
Crow’s Hall owner, Caroline Spurrier, knows how daunting an initial encounter with the moated manor and massive authentic barn can be. And she knows what imagination and determination can deliver too. Perhaps her experience in believing in Crow’s Hall and bringing it to life is what makes her such a wonderful support to wedding couples, when they are planning celebrations and life-changing memories to look back on in years to come.
In an interview for a regional magazine, Caroline shares how her love affair with Crow’s Hall blossomed over time…
“I remember feeling petrified when I finally agreed to buy Crow’s Hall,” says Caroline. Not surprisingly – it was Grade II* listed, needed renovation on a grand scale, came with a 400 -acre farm, and was in a county where she knew ono-one. She’s not the sort to be daunted by minor detail, however. “I was looking for a project, something to put my inheritance into. At first the amount of work put me off – I could see cheques being shredded before my eyes and dropping into the moat! So I tried to cancel the viewing appointment, but when I couldn’t get hold of the estate agent, I turned up anyway. It would have been rude not to.”
The rest, as they say, is history. After seeing it in 2004 and exchanging contracts the following February, Caroline completed her purse in August 2005. She worked closely with Ipswich architect Nicolas Jacob and his associate and project manager, Shaun Soanes, moving into the dovecote so that John Hogg and his team from the specialist historic building firm, R & J Hogg, could start work. For the next two years, Caroline oversaw the huge project, which involved English Heritage, teams of archaeologist and building historians, and ended up winning an award for its attention to detail and sympathetic approach.
The team re-roofed parts of the hall, removed some unattractive 20th century additions and reworked an existing extension. Gardens were laid out to a design by Xa Tollemache in keeping with the Tudor heritage. A formal knot garden with a central pool and an amphitheatre framed with box hedging and topiary are the focal points. Less formal areas include a kitchen garden and tucked-away seating that makes the most of the views.
Crow’s Hall wedding gardens to celebrate »
Just a year into the restoration, Caroline made an extraordinary discovery. Although there is evident of the site being used from as early as the 11th century the current structure of Crow’s Hall was not built until 1559 by Sir Charles Framlingham. “The amazing thing is that he built with money inherited from Richard Neville, the 16th century Earl of Warwick (known as Warwick the Kingmaker such was his power and influence during the Wars of the Roses), and I am the great grand-daughter of the 5th Earl of Warwick. Finding that out gave me the goose-bumps.
Crow’s Hall Suffolk barn venue history »
“I’ve done a lot of delving into the history of the place and it is fascinating, but there’s loads more to do,“ says Caroline. For now, though, she lives in a place that’s serene and beautiful and which thanks to her efforts, will stand strong for generations. How glad she must feel that she failed to get through to that estate agent back in 2005.
Feature excerpt (author Tessa Allingham) published EADT Suffolk Magazine June 2013.