A gorgeous wedding venue deep in the heart of rural Suffolk lays this immaculate Tudor gem by the name of Hengrave Hall. Its ancient walls hold many secrets from its sometimes turbulent but always interesting past, paying witness to Royal visits, ardent suitors, the lives of aristocratic ambitious gentlemen and even serving as a hospital in the First World War.
What better way for this Grade 1 listed beauty to continue to beguile and enthral than to become a luxury award winning and exclusive venue. Its stunning grounds, lovingly restored interiors and quietly graceful church make it a venue that I love to work at.
Standing resolutely since the 16th Century, at 500 years old the history and intriguing past of Hengrave Hall is palpable as you enter its hushed interiors. Quiet understated luxury is its trademark; it is my favourite UK venue to work at, for its quiet efficiency and unrivalled opportunities for formal and documentary style wedding photography.
The bride prepares in Queen Elizabeth’s chamber which Elizabeth I reputedly used during her visit to this Tudor residence. Panelled in oak, with the initials ER moulded into the ceiling, the quietly sumptuous space provides an oasis of calm in which a bride and her maids can prepare catching a final look in the enormous gilt mirror that leans against the wall before descending the grand stairway to the ceremony. Meanwhile the ‘boys’ don’t lose out either and can prepare in a room that gives more than a nod to a proper old style gentleman’s club, The Blue Chamber, and take in a game of pool, conveniently provided for nervous grooms and groomsmen to calm their nerves…………..
You can hold your ceremony in its exquisite panelled library or walk a little way from the hall to where your assembled guests await at the beautifully intimate church of St John the Lateran believed to date back to Saxon times. The church even has its own gallery where guests can watch the ceremony from and without a doubt this feels like a very special and very cosy church right from the moment you enter through its flower festooned doorway.
With the confetti thrown and celebrations commenced you can take time out walking amongst the one thousand or so roses scattered throughout the formal gardens and walk the perfectly maintained gravel pathways to the enchanting lily pond, before re-joining your guests at the Hall.
A chequered floor in the magnificent banqueting hall provides a perfect backdrop for a unique group shot taken high from the Minstrels gallery, and its library perfect for a more formal and gloriously ‘royal’ image with its fireplace, grand piano and amazing natural light.
I have been fortunate enough to photograph ceremonies at different times of the year at this Suffolk idyll and been witness to its changing beauty through the seasons, and I never fail to be impressed with the organisation and attention to detail at every event. A truly magical venue worthy of the accolades that it receives………So, let me share with you my thoughts on getting married at this amazing venue and the incredible opportunities for beautiful images on your day.
Queen Elizabeth’s chamber awaits you and your bridesmaids. Spacious and luxurious it provides a graceful setting and is possibly one of the best rooms I have seen for bridal preparations. I love the huge windows; the amazing mirrors and its luxurious feel that makes anyone entering there immediately feel cocooned and calm. There’s great available light to photograph with and certainly no cramped spaces here! There’s a designated space for make-up, room to manoeuvre as you climb into the dress that you chose so carefully and gorgeous sofa’s that provide space to relax over a glass of champagne……even the ‘boys’ have a great space in which to prepare in the Blue Chamber complete with pool table.
Once you’re ready you can glide down the magnificent panelled stairway. It’s a beautiful location for a more stylised shot if you have a long veil or train and has enough space to capture the more relaxed moments as you and your bridesmaids make their way to the little church in the grounds or the intimate panelled library for the ceremony.
Roses abound in the stunning formal gardens – how romantic is that?! Rain or shine a walkabout is a must to experience the splendour, take a moment to relax and – an uncrowded and beautiful few moments in a busy day. Late afternoon into early evening as the light softens is a gorgeously romantic time to do just that before completely letting your hair down at your evening party.
The grounds are perfect for outdoor games, with expansive manicured lawns framed by shrubs and trees, and I have some great images of guests enjoying outdoor table tennis in their wedding finery, giant “Jenga” and of course croquet! It’s a perfect opportunity to capture everyone at their most relaxed particularly when the sun is shining.
The light in this beautifully panelled and softly decorated dining room is quite lovely and perfect for gathering with friends to celebrate, eat, drink and make a toast to you both. All of the celebrations that I have captured here have started in this room before moving on to the Banqueting Hall with its chequered floor to dance the night away.