A former family estate in Minster will be opened to the public next spring as an exclusive, luxury venue for weddings of up to 120 guests.
Thanet council granted planning permission for the venture at the Estate in Thorne Hill in October.
The site, which is set in 25 acres of land, comprises of Chapel House to be used as a boutique bed & breakfast capable of accommodating a wedding couple and main wedding party across either one, two or three-day wedding packages.
The Granary and Barn becomes a function room and lodges are on the open field to the west of the main house and outbuildings.
The reinstated north drive will provide the main access to the estate entering via the private, gated entrance. Guests will have use of a grassed carpark for up to 70 cars, including EV charging points. Beyond this point the estate has a no car policy as it looks to protect the ground’s natural setting.
As part of the private stay, on the eve of the wedding, the wedding couple and their immediate guests will be served drinks in the courtyard and supper with locally sourced Kentish produce, inclusive of vegan and vegetarian options.
The estate will also be able to host wedding ceremonies in areas including the wild apple orchard and the Walled Courtyard. The courtyard can seat up to 60 guests while the orchard is large enough for 120.
The Old Malt Granary is licensed for indoor weddings. A banqueting barn is being built next to the Granary, Amore intimate ceremony is offered at Chapel House with a receiving room licensed for 15 people.
Chapel House, a Grade II listed building dating back to 1290, is the centrepiece of the Estate.
The house has a large master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a dressing room with bridal bathroom and two attic bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. A large kitchen, two lounge areas and a collection of vinyl to play on the up-cycled record player are also offered.
Guests staying on the Estate can enjoy the gardens and woodland and a personal driver will be on call for trips further afield.
The southwest paddock will house ten private lodgings, all featuring private bathrooms and bedrooms. A 24-hour onsite concierge service will be included.
One of the project founders Jonathan Sawyers, who lives with his family in Margate, said: “We fell in love with Chapel House as soon as we entered the grounds. Each time we visited the Estate, the more opportunities we could see for creating a leading destination wedding venue.
“The vast acreage allows guests to disappear into nature whilst the buildings close to Chapel House will create the perfect space for couples who want their guests to truly feel part of the celebrations.”
Estate bosses say sustainability and support of the local economy is a big focus and they are working towards a low carbon footprint. Produce will be sourced from local farms and the catering will be overseen by the Matt Sworder, chef/owner of The Corner House restaurants. Transportation to the venue by train will be actively encouraged with a 24-hour chauffeur service shuttling guests where they need to be.
In planning documents submitted for the venue it says: “Sheep graze these paddocks, something we will continue by retaining the sheep, contributing to our sustainability ethos and eco approach at the core of our project.
“In addition to the sheep, we will be setting up approximately 10 hives for honeybees, a vital part of our ecosystem, acting as highly efficient pollinators of our food crops and gardens and in doing so we support the protection of this vital insect which is suffering dramatic decline.
“For this we have engaged a beekeeper who will be taking up a permanent position and is a member of the local beekeeping community. Over the coming years we intend to expand on our sustainability and introduce further projects in support of this.”
The document also states: “The project will help to support the local economy in addition to offering employment throughout the year. These proposed positions will include, but are not limited to catering, waiting, operation, and housekeeping staff, grounds maintenance and garden positions, marketing, and sales as well as local trades.
“Our customer base will expand on this by benefiting local amenities and businesses. Just one wedding with an average of 85 guests, with more than half traveling from outside the immediate area, could reasonably lead to additional revenue generated directly by the wedding venue across spend in other accommodation establishments, eateries, services, and local tourism as guests stay across a two-night 3- day period or more.”