An elegant white box, tied with a scarlet ribbon. An invitation to a “simply marvellous country bash at the spiffing Deer Park Country House“. And nine gorgeous Ferrero Rocher chocolates. This was an invitation we could not refuse!
The National Association of Wedding Professionals had invited us for a true Devonshire adventure, so off we went, on a mini break to Devon to see if the venue could live up to its splendidly spectacular first impression. The bar was set high!
Having been told to bring our wellies (Hunter, naturally), we met at the Caledonian Club in London before boarding a coach and beginning our adventure.
Together with top wedding planners Lester Gethings, Rula Parties, Love Lydia and Siobhan Craven-Robins, we left the city behind us, heading into the countryside and to a quintessentially English establishment – Deer Park Country House Hotel. With all the trappings and trimmings of the best of British, it is considered one of the most romantic wedding venues in Devon and we were looking forward to seeing all it had to offer.
This 18th Century Georgian country house lies in Honiton, near Exeter, and sits within 80 acres of gorgeous grounds. From the stunning manicured lawns, the charming secret garden and the picturesque stream, our first impressions were that this was a pretty special wedding venue. So we made the most of their excellent hospitality and settled in for a luxurious break.
We were treated to proper cider and pizzas baked in their outdoor oven. This would be the perfect spot for an evening reception, the grounds are extensive and absolutely gorgeous. Pizza was followed by some duck racing and other outdoor games. Yes, duck racing. Not just ordinary ducks, ducks in fancy dress! The competition was hot, and with duck whistles and gentle encouragement, I attempted to herd ‘Donald’ (he had an air of President Trump about him…) around the pen before the pro sheepdog herded showed us how it should be done. It was such a fun afternoon and would make great alternative entertainment at a garden wedding.
After a delicious classic Devon cream tea, we had a tour of the grounds from Mark Godfrey, the charming and enthusiastic managing director. Their kitchen garden is beautiful, and they try to include at least one homegrown ingredient on every plate they serve – a wonderful idea. Then there’s the woodland with stunning bluebell carpet and the five-star river where guests are free to explore and fish.
Deer Park also offers a wedding car hire service and have a wonderful collection of classic and vintage cars. We were particularly taken with the 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom. Such a beauty!
And so to dinner, where there were a few surprises. In our black tie dinner finery, our little group took our seats in the hotel’s gorgeous Orangery for an exquisite three-course meal. We were serenaded by a wonderful opera singer before a band of drummers entered, providing a lovely variety of entertainment.
A wonderful evening was followed by an equally wonderful morning! We were treated to a lovely breakfast before taking a sneaky peek at the treehouse where people can stay in treetop luxury away from the main house.
All too soon our visit was over, we were provided with a wonderful hamper for the journey full of sandwiches and another cheeky cream tea, and we headed back to the bright lights of the big city.
Now for the wedding details…
If you want exclusive use of Deer Park, it can accommodate up to 60 guests in the main house, or the incredible Orangery can accommodate up to 210 guests. It’s a simply stunning space, with Georgian style arched windows, soft, ambient lighting, underfloor heating and beautiful décor. It’s light and airy, and a superb space all round! Or you can choose to tie the knot in the secret garden, surrounded by the prettiest natural backdrop. You can even spend your first night in their luxury treehouse. And then, of course, there’s the impeccable grounds, with pizza oven, racing ducks and the blissful stream. This truly is a most magical English treasure.
Thank you to the lovely Deer Park Country House Hotel staff, and managing director Mark, for such a wonderful stay. You can find out more about weddings at Deer Park on their website.
Images: All images 5SWD apart from the image of the drummers – sarahhannam.com.REVIEW: A simply spiffing stay at Deer Park