Extraordinary Venue: Aswarby Rectory
When a friend in the wedding styling business mentioned a new venue she'd had the great pleasure in working with for their recent open house, I just had to find out more. Tempted by a few photos of the event I could tell this venue was going to be just the type of place I wanted to feature on the blog, absolutely perfect for an intimate wedding.
Based on the edge of the Aswarby Estate village near Sleaford, Lincolnshire. Aswarby Rectory is a beautiful and romantic Georgian house that was built in 1820. Situated in stunning open countryside and surrounded by 9 acres of private gardens and paddock land. This labour of love is the creative project of Donna and Richard Johnson.
Speaking with Donna she tells me:
"I have spent almost the last 20 years working within the Creative Industry, first as a Graphic Designer, which then progressed into Creative Direction and then for the last 10 years, as lead Creative and Senior Art Director for clothing brand Joules.
My husband Richard also has a creative background, qualifying in industrial design with teaching and then running a design studio within a large international corporation for some years, until about the same time as I joined Joules. At that point we were embarking on a self build and Richard decided he’d had enough of being in an office 9-5 and wanted to get back to doing something more practical. So he gave up the day job and concentrated on property development full time.
Four years ago we had our first daughter, Olive, and two years later Ava came along. It was shortly after Ava came that we spotted Aswarby Rectory for sale, and from that point onward everything was turned on its head.
We were very settled in Market Harborough at the time and although we had dreamed of renovating an old property into a venue for a number of years, I don’t think either of us really believed we’d ever stumble across something that would be a possibility. But during a Saturday stroll through the centre of town, we came across The Old Rectory in one of the Estate Agents windows and thought it was worth a look. From the moment we turned into the Aswarby Estate we knew we were in trouble. The road in was flanked with giant Oak trees and the parkland is beautiful with a stunning view of a pretty Grade 1 Listed church almost as soon as you enter the village. The house was set right back off the road and although it needed a tonne of work, we fell in love.
We’ve always had a passion for creative and design and we love period property, so to be able to pour our energy into a place we love like this seemed to be the best thing we could ever do. I had a busy and quite stressful job before, which I loved, but I think having the girls changed the way I felt about being away for periods of time and we wanted to create a better family / work balance.
At first we felt a little guilty starting a business like this whilst they were still so small but now we’ve realised that we can balance that with providing them with a lot of time in a place that really centres around us as a family. We all love being here and being outdoors in a safe and open place like this is priceless to us.
When we married 7 years ago we struggled to find what we really wanted in a venue, so we’ve poured all of those things (and a little bit more) into Aswarby Rectory. We hope we’ve created something a little different here for everyone to enjoy, with the emphasis being on smaller, more intimate weddings .
We are grounded in family so we’re not a giant corporate machine and I think that’s helped us in a way to be able to relate to our guests and what is driving their search for a venue.
Being able to share this house now with other people on their wedding day means such a lot to us. We always said the house had good bones and it really does feel all the better for having people in it, enjoying the house and grounds and making special memories here".
What a journey this young family have been on to follow their dreams. In doing so they have created such a special space for future couples to have the most amazing backdrop to their big day.
I look forward to watching this venture grow from strength to strength, rewarding the hard work and unwavering vision of Donna and Richard.
Photography: Henry Lowther
Floral designs: Coco in the Country
Wedding Cakes: Caroline Mitchell
Styling: Jack Loves Jill
www.aswarbyrectory.com (Website under construction)