Note: This is a lengthy review. Skip to the end for Pros and Cons, pictures and website link.
Last year I was trying to decide how to celebrate my mam’s upcoming birthday. As it was a big one, I wanted it to be special. Searching for places to take her for a surprise weekend away, I discovered Middleton Hall. It was perfect for what I wanted; we could stay there for the weekend and also invite more guests for a big party one night. Keeping the whole thing a surprise was stressful but we got there in the end, and it was an amazing weekend! While organising the event and experiencing it, I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like as a wedding venue, so I did a little research.
If you are looking for a relatively intimate, exclusive use venue in the North East, this could be ideal. The hall itself has ten rooms of varying sizes, and day beds can be added. This means you could have up to eighteen guests (plus their children) staying with you for the weekend. You have the full run of the hall for the time that you are there, with no other events taking place, which makes your wedding feel all the more special. If you are looking for options for additional guests, there are also other properties for hire on the grounds, ranging from two person hideaways to a family cottage. There are a few options for weddings at the hall: an intimate ceremony in the orangery or dining hall, a grander affair seating up to 100 guests in the main hall, or an outdoor event in the paved area surrounding the orangery. The owners have good links with local catering companies, so they can arrange catering for the whole weekend if neccessary. They also have a small bar that they open up for events, and offer drinks packages of varying prices. But all of this information, and more, can be found on the website. Here is what I personally found while staying there.
We had a party in the main hall, with around fifty guests. This is perhaps a small number compared to what the hall usually caters to, which meant we had lots of room. However, it still did not feel empty in any way. We had a buffet set up in the dining room, which kept the two areas somewhat separate. However, the doors of the dining room can be removed and additional guest tables can be added to that area, something that can be seen in pictures on the website. I feel though, that people sitting in that area might feel slightly disconnected from the rest of the party, so I am not sure how good an idea that would be. Still, worth thinking about if you have a large number in mind. Furthermore, as we had quite a small party, we could leave plenty of space for a dance floor. Looking at pictures on the website, it’s not clear how this setup would work if the hall was filled to capacity. I can imagine it might get a little cramped. Of course, your guests would be free to wander around the other areas of the hall, for example to the billiards room in the basement, so it might not be an issue.
Staying in the hall for the weekend was a lovely experience in itself. As it is in its own grounds it was very peaceful, and some of our guests enjoyed a walk around the grounds which they said were beautiful. All of the bedrooms are well decorated, and each have their own little touches. Two of the rooms have four poster beds and baths in the en-suite bathrooms, perfect for a newly wed couple. The only problem you may have is deciding who to put in which rooms. There are two twin rooms, and some rooms are considerably smaller than others. This may work out well for your range of guests, or become an issue. Another point to note is that one of the bedrooms does not have an en-suite, but has a private bathroom that your guest would have to access via the landing, so make sure that you have made whoever is staying in that particular room aware of the situation before they arrive. The other areas of the hall are just as nice as the rooms. There are many places to escape to, meaning you can still have some time to yourself if needs be. A few of our party kept popping to the billiards room for a game of pool, while I quite enjoyed sitting in the peaceful orangery. Another plus is that if you are not hiring caterers for the whole weekend, you will also have free run in the kitchen, which was stocked with plenty of condiments, teas and coffees etc when we arrived. Overall, it was a fantastic place to stay, and I hope to return at some point.
Pros and Cons
- Exclusive use venue
- Beautiful setting for photographs, both outdoor and indoor
- Great for the princess style bride who dreams of a grand staircase entrance
- Owners are helpful and friendly
- You can choose how many days you stay, unlike some similar venues where you need to book for two or three nights
- Reasonably priced to hire
- Additional properties for hire (at the time we stayed in the hall, the owners were in the process or renovating an additional wing of the hall to add more rooms for hire)
- Works for weddings of varying sizes
- Light pollution is not an issue in this location, and the stars look beautiful at night
- Room layout may not be ideal for large weddings
- Be careful with decorations and the DJ’s equipment, nothing can be stuck down (we had bunting but had to tie it to things and our DJ used rubber, not tape)
- It may be a little out of the way for some guests as there is not much around the area
- Prices for drinks are a little on the expensive side
- Accommodation is not suitable for guests who cannot climb stairs
Hope this information is helpful for anyone considering Middleton Hall as a venue! Below is a link to the website, and some pictures we took during our stay. There are some more specific wedding photos on the website.