How we arrived at where we are today...
Lyde Arundel has been in our family since 1983 and it is constantly undergoing change and development. Robert and Karen Watkins have not stopped working on it since the day they took it on and it has been transformed over the years. Their great vision and foresight has allowed it to become the beautiful and secluded location it is today.
One of the first projects was the lake – you would never guess today that it is manmade; the greenery has matured fantastically into a natural sound barrier to create the perfect secluded setting for arrival drinks, canapés and of course photographs. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted over the decades and the house and surrounding out buildings lovingly restored. It was then that the farm buildings and barns were traditionally converted, using local craftsmen and oak from the farm lands. The stables, hay loft and fertiliser shed became what is known as The Haywain – the smaller of our two beautiful barns. It has an enormous fire place - which kicks out the most tremendous amount of heat burning three foot logs! – and a lovely oak floor ideal for dancing on, not to mention a minstrels gallery and lovely features such as arrow slit windows and alcoves. One of the cold stores was then restored to its glory days and is now The Great Hall. Inches of foam were chipped away at to reveal the lovely Herefordshire stone and the most fantastic ceiling – supported by ten huge beams down its 36 metre length. Which must allow for the longest aisle is Herefordshire when The Great Hall is used for civil ceremonies.
The farm is still a working farm, predominantly growing wheat, peas and oil seed rape. Though this too has changed dramatically over the years from having a small herd of cattle through the main crop being potatoes to the current position.
Restoration is a constant project for whenever the farm work is quiet – see the then and now photos for what has really been happening here over the last thirty years. There is always something going on, be it converting another old stable block, putting in more lakes or planting a vineyard...
It truly is a family run business, or businesses would be more accurate. Robert and Karen set up Lyde Arundel as a wedding venue in 2005, they almost fell into it really, having converted The Haywain for private and farm use, a friend’s son asked if he might have his wedding reception there and one thing led to another... They still farm though their son is taking on more and more and has been involved in much of the development over the years. Their youngest daughter has dabbled in wedding photography at Lyde Arundel and elsewhere in the county and is now focusing on the vineyard and wine production.
And it is Lydia, Robert and Karen’s other daughter, and her husband Tomas who now run the wedding business. Originally they moved back to Hereford in 2008 to set up a restaurant in what we today call the ‘Quiet Room’, which is upstairs; this happened mid week so as not to impose on the already flourishing wedding business. Eventually this became the in-house catering company ‘The Haywain’ which had great success until 2013 when they decided a change was in order: Tomas had recently graduated and Lydia wanted to remember what life was like outside a kitchen! Having been recently married themselves they can really empathise with your wants and needs and also have some great insider tips due to working in the hotel, catering and wedding industry for over ten years.
It is all this that enables us to understand the importance of a personal approach to our weddings. We really do go the extra mile in helping you to achieve your ideal wedding day, whether it’s allowing your dog to accompany you on your big day or sewing you into your dress if something has gone awry to dashing to the shop for the vital baby food that’s sitting in your kitchen fridge! We are creative and perfectionists so rest assured the detail really does matter to us