Heather Large meets the team at the country house as they introduce a new programme of events following a relaunch of the estate and its accommodation
Make yourself at home”. That’s the message to visitors looking to explore the picturesque estate of Walcot Hall.
The venue which is in the heart of the Shropshire Hills has undergone a relaunch after welcoming new members of staff and has recently introduced a new events programme.
Already one of England’s top wedding venues, the team at Walcott is keen to encourage more people to explore everything the estate has to offer.
“Following Covid, lockdowns and furlough we had a lot of staff move on to pastures new, which gave us an unprecedented opportunity to inject fresh energy into almost every team on the estate and you can really feel it,” says estate manager Kit Young.
“As everybody else has done in this post-Covid world, we’ve taken the opportunity to rethink things. We were closed for almost two years and it was a difficult time for the business.
“We’ve been looking at developing the business outside of weddings. We’ve introduced a new summer events programme and a series of a lifestyle classes. We have a fantastic blacksmith on site who is a running an introduction to blacksmithing and we’re looking at offering other flower arranging and craft classes,” says Kit.
Located in Lydbury North, the estate is the family home of Robin and Lucinda Parish and their four children, Arthur, George, Nancy and Edward.
They have all lived together at Walcot since 2000, although Robin has lived there since his parents bought the Georgian country house in 1957.
The venue’s 30 acres of grounds, including one of the finest arboretums in Britain, offer visitors 15 self-catering holiday cottages and 10 glamping ‘hidden treasures’ located around the estate. The holiday cottages vary from the traditional to the unique and include the iconic tin Chapel tucked away in the arboretum, yurts, shepherds huts, the Dipping Shed and the newly restored Norbury Hall.
“We have such a variety of accommodation. Families love it because children can be wild and free. We’re wifi free which can be quite a shock when people first arrive but when they see their accommodation and realise it’s such a lovely place to be and spend time as a family they don’t mind.
The events programme includes The Marches Choir performing Viva Opera! The show on Sunday, July 3 will feature highlights from opera and operetta, from The Magic Flute to The Merry Widow, at the Walcot Hall Ballroom.
“The ballroom at Walcot Hall is a stunning venue in which the choir have performed twice previously – it is an ideal backdrop for opera with an elegant ambience and wonderful acoustics,” says conductor and musical director, Alistair Auld.
On Tuesday, July 5, Til Tomorrow Theatre Company will present an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Their ensemble of 15 players from nine different countries promises to being a diverse multilingual perspective to Shakespeare’s classic.
While later in the year, visitors can get dressed up for Walcot’s Grand Ball, which takes place on Saturday, October 15.
From April to September, people are also welcome to explore the arboretum which is open from 12pm to 5pm every day except Saturdays and has a rich varieties of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Different trees are forever being added and amongst the notable specimens is a huge Douglas Fir, planted by Lord Powis in 1842 and was once the largest tree of its kind in Britain.
The full gardens are open to the public for only two days a year during the Whitsun May Bank holiday weekend, when the display of rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best but private tours can be arranged for groups of up to 12 people.
There is also the estate pub, The Powis Arms, which is just a short walk from the hall.
“We have a brilliant new manager and chef at our estate pub, which sits at the end of the drive, and the response locally has been really positive,” says Kit.
Weddings are still an important and very enjoyable part of the team’s work. “We get some really brilliant, fun weddings. People can come on a Friday and spend the whole weekend. It’s their own private, party paradise. The couple gets to spend an extended weekend with their friends and family which makes it really special and takes the pressure off them so they can relax and enjoy it. Our wedding coordinators are brilliant and really make the day as special as it can possibly be. It’s really nice to bring people together,” says Kit.
The whole team prides itself on making sure every visitor to the estate feels welcome and is able to make the most of the scenic surroundings.
“It’s a real pleasure to work every day with people who are excited to deliver their absolute best and make sure that guest’s visits to Walcot are memorable,” says Kit.
“We live in a part of the world where there are a lot of estates, but Walcott is so warm and welcoming. It’s very much a family home and you feel that with how relaxed people are. The owners are very much part of life here. We will see one of them walking the dogs or planting trees. They very much want their home to be their guests’ home for as long as they are here and for people to be able to enjoy the whole estate. It’s such a wonderful venue to spend time in, we’re just trying to give people different opportunities to experience it. It’s a place where people can relax.”
For more information about the events taking place at Walcot Hall, visit walcothallevents.com or call 01588 680570.