Review: Blackwell Grange wedding venue
Looking for a dreamy wedding venue on The Cotswolds/ Warks border? Muddy has found just the place, done up to a luxurious standard and with accommodation to boot, here's what we thought of this converted barn on a working farm
Tucked away in the gorgeous village of Shipston-on-Stour is stunning labour of love Blackwell Grange. This isn’t just your standard, pretty converted barn wedding venue, there’s four generations of family history here and owners Didi and Will Vernon Miller painstakingly oversaw a complete renovation of the 16th and 17th century listed farm buildings in 2015, all while keeping the arable and sheep farm running. No mean feat while they were also bringing up a baby!
Now Blackwell Grange boasts a huge glass-fronted barn for wedding receptions and four gorgeously decorated cottages with ten en-suite bedrooms.
This is a working farm, so yes there’s a rustic vibe about the place, but this is rustic meets high end glam. Didi Vernon Miller has ripped up the rule book on decor and it works. The venue is completely white inside with a well-stocked industrial-style bar in one corner, leading through to the massive reception room – also painted a pristine white with not a speck of grub on the walls from tiny hands clutching wedding cake. Think massive wood beams, bi-fold doors which open onto the patio and dangling chandeliers. Heading up the sweeping concrete staircase (yes, it looks as cool as it sounds) there’s a cosy snug area brimming with squishy sofas, lamps for mood lighting, more of those wooden beams and more importantly it looks over the reception room so you don’t miss out on any of the action. At night the whole barn just glows, inviting you into the warm for a glass of champagne and dancing.
Both owners – who also live on site – are refreshingly laid back and you get the feeling no problem is too big for them. Didi is also a dab hand with flowers (and hopefully will be running workshops soon) so ask if she can give you a hand on the day.
There’s little quirks throughout giving a nod to the venue’s history which I just loved. In the bridal dressing room there’s an upcycled ladder which was found in Will’s grandad’s ‘Potting Shed’ (incidentally the name of the room); there’s cladding from the old barns on some walls and some of the rooms even have saddle racks rescued from the old farm buildings which are now used to hang clothes – who needs a wardrobe? You get the sense nothing goes to waste here, so much of the old buildings and items have been tastefully incorporated into the decor.
If you want attention to detail, this is your place. Brides, there’s a gorgeous dressing room complete with fridge (for the essential champagne) and massive mirrors so you can get ready on site the morning of. Ceremonies are held in the breath-taking Thatch Barn (yes, with thached roof). As you walk in there’s a glass floor looking down into a well which the family didn’t want to cover up – and it is a great feature. Through the heavy wooden door into the ceremony room you’ll find exposed oak beams, underfloor heating, floor uplighter and right at the front a huge open fire. The acoustics were great in here too, a string quartet or harpist would sound fab and set the tone.
After the ceremony there’s loads of gorgeous places for photos – if it’s a nice day it’s particularly photogenic outside, with views for miles around over The Cotswolds. A particular favourite area was into a small patio through a ‘hobbit hole’ door.
SCOFF & QUAFF
There’s a massive kitchen ran by some top chefs, and many of them local. Produce is also as local as possible and there’s an extensive menu with standard, deluxe and premier options available. While I didn’t try the food you can expect a hearty English menu which I hear ticks all the boxes for guests and couples. Diets are also well catered for here, and a fully vegan wedding was recently held.
There’s an extensive wine list and also the option for cocktail, gin or rum bars. If beer is more your thing you can buy a drum which can be topped up, and there’s the option of mini bottles of Prosecco before the reception. Cheers to that. Ale lovers are catered for too and kegs can be ordered in advance.
It’s always nice not having to ring a taxi at the end of the night, and here you can stumble out of the barn straight into some of the most luxurious cottages I’ve ever seen. Known as 1604 – the date stone on one of the properties – there’s four cottages which sleep a total of 22, so the whole family probably can’t stay (but there are other nice places nearby for those who don’t make the list – we like The Arden and The Fuzzy Duck and Didi and Will have a long list of recommendations).
Each room has been individually decorated to a luxury standard, with a nod to the family’s past. Bedrooms are mainly named after horses or the Vernon Miller ties to polo, which Will’s grandad played professionally. All have a bath (hello roll top copper tub) or shower, and king or super king size beds. There’s been no expense spared with fluffy feather duvets and pillows and there’s gorgeous views over The Cotswolds countryside.
In the morning or at the end of the night guests tend to congregate in The Flour Mill for a cup of tea or some breakfast to chat about the event.
If you haven’t got a wedding to attend at Blackwell Grange, fear not, the family has plans to offer the accommodation as holiday rentals from 2022. It’s right next to Muddy’s Best Place to Live Ilmington too, so definitely worth a visit.
OUT & ABOUT
Apart from touring the North Cotswolds villages and towns, we recommend National Trust’s Upton House and Charlecote Park, the arts and crafts inspired garden at Hidcote and Kiftsgate Court Gardens, which celebrates three generations of female gardeners. Also worth mentioning is Warwickshire’s answer to Stonehenge – the Rollright Stones, a collection of neolithic monuments on the Oxon border. The RSC is just up the road and Warwick Castle is 25 minutes away.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR: What’s not to like? This is such an individual and quirky venue with the wow factor. If you’re looking for something to stand out from the crowd, this is your place.
NOT FOR: If your guests are exceptionally rowdy and a bit of a handful maybe give this one a miss. The family are understandably really proud of their venue and like to keep it in tip top condition – so hubby’s mate swinging from the chandeliers might not be too welcome.
Fancy having a snoop around yourself? There’s Open Events on Saturday 8th and 22nd Jan 2022. Booking essential.
Blackwell Grange, Blackwell, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, CV36 4JX
www.blackwellgrange.co.uk 01608 698798