Puppy Love – Weddings with Four-legged Friends

Meet Betsy, the latest four-legged friend to call Crow’s Hall home – a greyhound who already has a nose for sniffing out a good Suffolk wedding!

Home is where the hound is. And Crow’s Hall – the Suffolk wedding venue that’s like borrowing a close friend’s stately home – is no exception. For its owner, Miss Caroline Spurrier, having an entourage of ever-curious canine companions is what makes the place a ‘family’ home. What’s more, Caroline may even admit that at Crow’s Hall, it’s often the dogs who rule the roost.

But one thing is certain – from delivery drivers and photographers to even the most loved-up Suffolk wedding couples, visitors rarely leave without finding room in their hearts for a furry friend (or four). Just call it puppy love.

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A West Highland Welcome at Crow’s Hall

It’s usually white Westie, young ‘Nosy’ Rosie, who’s the first off the mark, scampering across from the moated Mid-Suffolk hall to the ‘mainland’ to greet new arrivals. Terrier no. 2, Alfred the Elder, and established old gentlewoman-greyhound, Molly, take a more measured approach.

At 10 and 14 respectively, the older, more laid-back leaders of the pack still consider it very much their duty to escort couples around the grounds, but prefer a somewhat statelier pace.

No need to rush… there are plenty of beautiful views to be enjoyed as they guide would-be wedding couples or guests through the different ‘rooms’ of Crow’s Hall gardens and lead the way over the bridge to the magnificent Tudor barn.

An Unexpected Lockdown

Recently though, things have been rather different. The summer of 2020 has seen great joyful bursts of wedding celebrations nudge into next year and beyond, giving way to the occasional socially distanced wedding photo-shoot for two. Virtual viewings have replaced tours of the house for brides-to-be. The hoover hounds, able to clear up a fallen morsel of wedding celebration catering before you can say ‘crumbling canapé, have even had to accept a snack-free diet and regular meal-times.

Most unusual of all, the great wooden gatehouse door set beneath Sir Charles Framlingham’s weathered coat of arms, has found itself tightly shut. In fact, if Crow’s Hall had a drawbridge in lieu of its solid gangway spanning the four Tudor redbrick arches, it would have almost certainly been pulled up and secured fast. So what’s behind the ‘lockdown’? An attempt to take the wind out of COVID’s sails perhaps? Or maybe just the desire for some quiet island life?

A white sheet of paper pinned to the door with a handwritten, heartfelt note reveals all: “New dog. PLEASE keep door firmly SHUT.”

Meet Betsy – The New Kid on the Tudor Block

Lying in her bed in the sunny courtyard garden so often graced with champagne wedding celebrations, eight year old rescue dog, Betsy, raises a big greyhound brow just enough to share that serene, ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-this-mouth’ look. Naturally, it’s all that’s necessary to soften even the hardest of hearts and she knows it.

Before being welcomed into the Crow’s Hall nest however, she’d have been glad of butter or any food melting in her mouth – alas, the poor young lady was all of a doggy dental doo-dah. Now, after appropriate quantities of vet visits and TLC from Caroline and her canine counterparts, she’s ready to share her smile and the limelight with wedding couples when the photographers come calling.

Of course, it takes no detective work to recognise all her greyhound traits, already so nobly displayed by long-term resident and 40 mile-per-hour-coach-potato, Molly – the ultimate hound of the basker-villes. Now pretty much settled and sorted, Betsy’s happy to follow in Molly’s time-honoured paw-prints to seek out those special soft spots – laps, sofas, sprawling garden cushions or shush-don’t-tell-anyone snuggly beds – places to recline and reflect in all sorts of I-own-the-place poses, and above all to snooze the day away like a human teenager.

At the slightest sniff of a squirrel though, it’s nought to thirty in sheer seconds. Ears also prick up when a biscuit tin comes within twenty paces. For the time-being at least, the gatehouse door gives the local wildlife some sort of chance, whilst the new kid on the Tudor block builds up a bit of decorum. But when both food and Betsy are around, Caroline still can’t help wishing she had a lasso!

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An Introduction to Wedding (K)nots & Other Etiquette

When Julia and Henry arrived bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and beautifully dressed for some wedding photographs, Nosy Rosie was on hand show to Betsy the ropes. The couple were thrilled to secure some superb wedding shots with the garden backdrops at their summer best – and to meet the newest member of the canine crew of course.

Molly and Alfie did their usual disappearing act, leaving young whippersnapper Rosie (aged 4) to instill the art of respectful wedding mascot-ry upon the new recruit:

No dirty paws
No dips in the moat (no matter how great the excitement)
No jumping up
No chasing the train
No licking (shoes or people)
No clambering or looking for laps to sit on
Do keep a respectable distance – no matter how inviting the smile

And – if you find yourself getting into the wedding shot – always remember not to steal the limelight, Betsy! Hmmm…

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Wonderful Wedding Mascot or Mission Impossible?

So how did Betsy do at her first official engagement (or should that be wedding?)?!

Well, she certainly felt at home with it all and seemed comfortingly relaxed to be sharing her own new and very special island abode with others. Calm, quiet, interested but not over-excited, she did her breed proud. Rosie kept a good watchful eye.

And the verdict? Clean paws. Well-behaved tongue. Big, love-me-I’m-a-rescue-dog-honest-I-am eyes…

Bravo Betsy and welcome to the team! Room for improvement of course, but maybe by the time Henry and Julia return with all their friends and family, you’ll be taking things even more in your glorious greyhound stride.

Do bring your dogs to your wedding at Crow’s Hall – they’re family too!  

Crows Hall Suffolk I Dog-friendly Weddings