New Devon Venue Hosts It’s First Wedding

Julian Harris and Claire Bowler are the first couple to get married at Rockbeare Manor

Julian Harris and Claire Bowler

Here at Rockbeare Manor we are getting excited about our first wedding which takes place this Saturday. We talked to Julian Harris and Claire Bowler from Exeter who are putting the finishing touches to a very personal ceremony. They are the first couple to marry at Rockbeare Manor in its 250-year history.

Tell us about the proposal:

 Claire: ‘It was a complete surprise. We had been on a beach holiday in Cornwall and on the last day we were at Bantham when Julian got down on one knee and proposed and I said yes! Beaches have been a theme through our relationship, our first date was at Dawlish, and because of this they are featuring in our wedding. We have named tables after our favourite beaches and created natural centrepieces featuring sand and shells.’

You have really put your own stamp on this wedding haven’t you:

Julian: ‘Claire is very creative and we wanted to try and do as much of it as we could, although I’m not sure where she has found the time. The thing about Rockbeare Manor is you can make it your own and that is what we have done.’

Claire: ‘It has been great fun planning it, we are doing lots ourselves and we have really been able to put our stamp on the whole wedding.’

Tell us about why you chose Rockbeare Manor:

 Claire: ‘We heard about Rockbeare Manor through a friend, at that time it was right in the middle of being refurbished, and even though the work wasn’t done, we could see what an amazing place it was and knew it was right for us. We didn’t look at any other Devon wedding venues – we just knew. I said we have to get married there, it’s beautiful – I just fell in love with it.’

What were your first impressions?

 Julian: ‘As Claire said, the house was mid-refurbishment, but from the minute you drive through the entranceway, with the huge pillars, you know there is something special ahead. We thought it was absolutely beautiful and such a special place for our wedding.’

What do you think of the house now it is finished?

 Claire: ‘It is amazing, even better than we could have imagined. We are so excited to be sharing our special day at this beautiful house with all our friends and family.’

The History of Rockbeare Manor – Devon’s most exciting wedding venue

Rockbeare Manor

Rockbeare Manor is the true essence of a family home. This wonderful property, which was built in 1760 and later sold to the Nation family in 1855 has remained with that family ever since, passing from generation to generation – until its new lease of life this year when it reopened as an exclusive wedding and events venue following a meticulous refurbishment.

The property’s long and rich history can be traced back to the 14th century when it was under the ownership of Matilda, Countess of Gloucester. Although at that time it was less of a manor house and resembled more of an agricultural property. Since then it’s passed through many different families who all made alterations to the grounds, including the introduction of a manor house in the middle of the 18th century.

The most significant alterations made to Rockbeare Manor came from Thomas Porter who bought the house in 1815. He built the upper story of the manor and also built the walled garden. Little remains of the historical features of the house before its update in the early 19th century, however it has retained its Regency period features which create a timeless elegance to its façade and inner reception rooms.

It is this elegance that makes Rockbeare Manor one of the most exciting, exclusive wedding venues in Devon.

The property has now been acquired from the family and undergone a sensitive refurbishment, restoring it to its former glory.  The new  ‘custodians’ PM Hospitality, have fulfilled their vision of creating a beautiful space where weddings and celebrations could take place within a spectacular setting reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel. The setting of the manor could not be more perfect; surrounded by the beautiful Devon countryside with acres of parkland the romantic aspects of the house are plain to see. It truly is the perfect place to have your wedding ceremony or a private party.

After sensitively restoring the house, accentuating its Regency features, the manor is now officially open and taking bookings for weddings and celebrations.

Alternative Ideas For Your Hen or Stag Do

When it comes to getting married, the hen and stag do is something that the vast majority of brides and grooms look forward to. The trends for these events have changed enormously over recent years, with people looking for more alternative things to do rather than simply going to the local. With this in mind, we’ve done some digging and found some really exciting, alternative ideas perfect for either the hen or stag do before the big “I do”.

As Rockbeare Manor is a wedding venue near Exeter in Devon, we’ve tried to keep our suggestions local, as here in the South West there is a multitude of different things that are available for you.  Somehow we’ve managed to whittle it down to a list of just 10 of the best:

1. West Country Games 

West Country Games is an activity specialist in the South West. It offers a variety of different and interesting events including a ‘cider run’, ‘pitch fork duel’ and ‘mangold dangling’. If these sound like your cup of tea then check out the website for more information.

2. Rail Ale Trails 

If you want a twist on the regular pub-crawl then The Rail Ale Trail which is run by Great Scenic Railways, is worth looking into. There are 7 trails to choose from in Devon and Cornwall. The trail involves getting the train to various stops, dependant on which trail you choose, and visiting various rural pubs where you can enjoy some traditional ales. There is also a chance to win a t-shirt by collecting 10 stamps from the different pubs.

3. Escape Surf School 

More of a beach-bum than a bar-run? Why not head on down to Newquay for your hen or stag do and do some surfing? The Escape Surf School offers surfing lessons for complete beginners to advanced learners. It’s a great excuse to top up your tan before the big day.

4. Ultimate Adventure Centre

The Ultimate Adventure Centre in Bideford has an Ultimate Assault Course with a mixture of land and water based obstacles as well as several other courses, which can catapult your hen or stag do into a day of epic proportions.

5. Skirmish Paintball 

What better way to spend your do than to play a game of paintball? Skirmish Paintball, located in Stoke Woods near Exeter, is a 120-acre paintball site and promises to be a day full of tactical fun and paint!

6. Pampering weekend

Pampering weekends are a great way to relax before the big day. There are lots of different places in the UK where you can go for a weekend pampering session and Spabreaks.com is a great place to look for a spa near to you. And yes, spa breaks are these days appealing to men more and more as they look for an alternative to the traditional stag do.

7. Devon Leisure

For motorised events, such as go-karting and quad biking, Devon Leisure has it all. It is the largest off-road activity centre in the South West and with over 12 miles of woodland quad trails is sure to provide hours of fun for your party!

8. Treasure Trails 

If nature is your thing, then the Treasure Trails could be the perfect day for you! Treasuretrails.co.uk has over 1,200 self-guided trails all over the UK which help you to discover new cities, towns and villages. They have walking, cycling and driving trails meaning that no matter what the weather you can have a great day.

9. Go Ape 

Go Ape is the UK’s number one forest adventure park, there are 29 parks across the country and the one in the South West can be found in Haldon near Exeter. The park is home to a whole world of fun and adventure, including zip-lines, segways and swings. This is sure to be a fantastic way to spend your hen or stag party.

10. Cocktail Making Classes 

Cocktail making classes are the perfect way to start a night out for your stag/hen do. My Cocktail Master Class is a great place to start looking for a class near to you. They hold events in Exeter at Oddfellows most days of the week. Check out the website for more information.

Introducing Aimée: Director at Rockbeare Manor, Devon Wedding and Events Venue

Aimee Spencer – Director at Rockbeare Manor

Hi, my name is Andrew Carveth and I head up the company which is proud to have brought Rockbeare Manor to life as a venue for weddings and special events in Devon.

Over the coming weeks I would like to personally introduce the dedicated team that work with me, all of whom do a fantastic job ensuring that our guests have an unforgettable experience here at Rockbeare Manor, whether it be a wedding, charity event or formal dinner.

One very key member of our team is a bit shy about introducing herself…her name is Aimée Spencer, a Co-Director of the company, who joined us to develop the business and lead the team at Rockbeare Manor.

Aimée was introduced to me just over two years ago by a mutual friend, who knew we were looking to establish an events business in Devon. Aimée has lived in Devon for five years, but for the last 15 years has gained great experience in hospitality and events, culminating in a role as an Account Director for a London-based events company, responsible for their venues in Surrey and west London, where she organised many weddings and corporate events.

Aimée joined us originally in Somerset, working with me at our other venues Coombe Lodge (www.coombelodge.co.uk ) and Priston Mill (www.pristonmill.co.uk ). She impressed us all with her hard work, determination and sense of style and very quickly established herself as a valued and trusted manager with strong values and integrity, equally with clients as well as our own team.

 At Rockbeare Manor, she has been involved with the designs and plans for the development of the venue, and was tasked with the creation of the website and brochure, as well as continually working with our clients, and looking after the marketing of the venue.  She is also the voice behind all our social media and blog posts (apart from this one!).

Aimée has extremely high standards, and naturally goes the extra mile to look after guests as individuals. She goes above and beyond for all her clients, and will demonstrate the same care for each and every one of their chosen guests too, while they relax and have fun!

Aimée loves meeting new people, and showing them around the house, of which she is very proud. She really likes to find out how potential clients would like things to be, and has a great talent in bringing these requests to life, always happy to explain how it could look and why it will be  a success.

She loves flowers and chocolate – the sweeter the better! – as well as her husband Simon, her girls, aged five and two, and her springer spaniel Charlie. She also likes shopping, and an occasional glass (or two) of wine!

Rockbeare Manor is looking great, and it is loved by those that visit us here. I know that is in no small way down to the dedication of Aimée and her team, and I feel very lucky to be a part of its ongoing success.

Andrew Carveth. Director – PM Hospitality Limited.