Even in the relatively short time I’ve been around things around Spains haven’t stood still for long. When you consider that the R-B family have lived here for over 250 years my meagre 34 years is just a drop in the ocean. That said since I can remember I’ve seen buildings come down, buildings go up, people come and go, machinery evolve (clearly my preoccupation as a small child was tractors, something shared by my sons amazingly) and the day-to-day life constantly change.
In refreshing my memory of the history for a house tour recently I got completely side-tracked by a collection of old photos. Some of you may have seen the recent Country Life article on Spains Hall which contained some of the best pictures I’ve seen of the house and gardens. However, in this collection of old photos was one of the men mowing the grass in front of Spains, using a donkey! The donkey has long since been retired and we thought it’d be fun to stage the photo again:
A bit more horsepower but we still have to cut the grass!
Some things do change, but probably not as much as we think!
Last month we renewed our link to international sport by providing the raw material for the Indian Premier League and Ashes. Ok, so it’ll take a while to get there but some of the Cricket Bat Willows recently harvested from the estate may, via the experts at J.S.Wright & Sons Ltd (http://www.cricketbatwillow.com/), eventually find their way into the hands of superstars of the cricketing world. After felling the mature trees will be taken a few miles to Great Leighs, cross cut into 28 inch lengths, graded and transformed into the ‘blades’ that are the supplied to expert bat makers. Replanting of felled or damaged trees is done regularly with the young sets supplied by Wrights. It’s then up to us to nurture them as they grow, protecting them as best we can from squirrels and deer, who are obviously not cricket fans!
It’s probably one of the longest working relationships we have at Spains, starting at least 80 years ago and continuing to the present day. Growing Cricket Bat Willows is an unusual and interesting facet of the Estate and we are very lucky to be so close to the biggest English Willow merchants in the world.
AR-B August 2014
Weddings take a lot of planning, so it’s vital to look ahead. A traditional wedding is great for many, but what if you want to be at the cutting edge of wedding trends? If you want a super-fashionable wedding, you need to start planning now.
To make it easy to plan your big day, we take a quick look at some of the trends forecast for 2015.
Just what every bride-to-be needs: more styles of dress to try and choose from! 2015 will feature a big range of exciting new styles. From simple and elegant to bold and adventurous, you’re bound to find something you’ll love, and it might even surprise you.
Being revealing is one of the hottest new trends for 2015. From bare backs and plunging necklines to showcasing midriffs, the adventurous bride can find a dress that perfectly accentuates her curves and skin while still retaining an air of class and sophistication.
If you want to be bold without being bare, you can opt for nude lace, metallic, or retro looks. Wearing a lace dress over a soft cashmere slip gives a seductive yet elegant look, while metallic dresses instantly help you stand out from the crowd of white dresses.
Bad news shabby chic fans – your time is over! The trend for 2014-15 is for luxury and art deco. Beautifully presented sit down meals are going to come into favour, with each and every guest looked after as well as possible. Smaller weddings, focussing on intimate atmosphere, mean you can afford more quality catering to treat everyone to a scrumptious meal. Seasonal English ingredients and traditional dishes will make a comeback, and champagne replaces Prosecco as the toast drink of choice. The evening buffet will give way to food passed among guests in order to keep the evening flowing smoothly - and allow more, essential, time on the dance floor.
The dress, the food, the flowers, the décor; all of those things can change with the latest fashions, but one thing always stays the same. Every bride dreams of getting married in a beautiful location, one that adds to the romance and magic of their big day. When it comes to venue, it is more about personal tastes than fashions, and for many brides you simply can’t beat the traditional country house. Grand, spectacular & historical - they add the perfect sense of wonder and permanence to any wedding.
Spains Hall provides you with a huge degree of flexibility. You can have your ceremony in a number of different locations, including the main hall, smaller intimate rooms, or outside in the garden overlooking the luscious estate. Wherever in the grounds you choose to have your wedding, you can be sure of several things – that you will have a magical day in a fantastic setting. You will be diligently looked after for the duration of your day in order to ensure you have a perfect, flawless wedding.
When people think of Spains Hall, they most likely think of the building itself. Tall and lustrous in colour, Spains Hall makes a mark on the local landscape, standing out yet perfectly fitting in. The estate has been managed carefully to ensure the hall has all you would expect from such a beautiful ancestral home.
It is away from the hall itself that we want to turn our attention today. Exploring the estate, and the countryside beyond it, can make up a large part of your stay. The variety of the landscape, and sheer expanse of beautiful surroundings, means that you could have an exciting and memorable time here without ever needing to leave the locale.
We take a look at some of the landscapes and features surrounding Spains Hall, and just why they are so worth exploring.
Throughout the history of Spains Hall, the owners have worked to adapt its function in line with modern demands. This has allowed it to continue to survive and thrive through the decades. The farmland on the estate is one of the key parts of this, with 1800 working acres. Farmland, with its wide, rolling fields provides the perfect English landscape. The relative flatness of the landscape allows you to see for miles, and it is wonderful to see up close the way that man interacts with nature.
The woodland around Spains Hall is extensively managed to ensure that it is as healthy as possible. With the price of importing timber from abroad so low, many woodlands in Britain have been left to their own devices as it is no longer profitable to maintain them. This may sound idyllic, but a woodland that isn’t managed becomes a very competitive place. All plants need light, but we all know that nature is not about sharing. Without carefully controlling the canopies, the biggest trees would block out all the light for the plants below. By caring for our woodland, we ensure that all types of plants are allowed to grow. This ensures we have wonderfully varied and natural English woodland.
Walks from Finchingfield
Spains Hall is located near the picturesque village of Finchingfield. The village is small and quaint, with plenty of greenery, and is the perfect place to set off from on an array of countryside walks. There are many routes to choose from, varying in length from a leisurely stroll to a hike of many miles. It doesn’t take long after setting off before you are deep in the midst of the Essex countryside, walking through meadows and valleys, crossing streams, and traversing fields.
Holiday cottages in Essex at Spains Hall
Our words will never do the sights of Essex justice. The only way to truly experience them is to come and visit for yourself. Look at our holiday cottages today and start planning your Essex adventure.
When you’ve lived somewhere all your life you can be fooled into thinking you know pretty much all there is to know about it. Well, that’s what I thought until I was lucky enough to hitch a lift to fly over Spains Hall. It’s amazing how different things are from the air. I’ve been up on the roof of Spains Hall occasionally, though mostly wobbling along the rainwater gullies feeling terribly brave (whilst actually wondering if the lead will hold me or if I’d end up in one of the bedrooms in a rather unconventional manner!)
To see it for yourself is something else. I found myself drawn to the vision of those who set out the garden (without the aid of a view from above!) and just how perfect it looks from the air. The Estate was also a revelation, with large blocks of woodland linked by ribbons of hedge and punctuated by fields of different colour crops. What struck me particularly though was the way the house and gardens nestle into the landscape. They look like they just belong.
Of course that’s what Humphrey and his son Ady Repton would have wanted I’m sure as they drew out their ambitious plans and watercolours for the house and grounds in the 19th Century (sadly never fully realised due to lack of funds but you can see the originals in the house), but as someone who is keen on the way we relate to our natural surroundings it’s gratifying to see that our home seems manage it so well. Admittedly, it’s had some practice having been on the site since 1410 in one form or another!
The opportunity to compare from the air the velum 1618 Pope map and today’s Estate was one I shall never forget. If I ever want a benchmark as to how the Estate has changed it’s to that map that I turn. Pleasingly the amount of woodland has shrunk ever so little, and what’s clear from the air is that Great Howe – our treasured semi-natural ancient woodland – is still one of the largest stands in the area.
As we flew south over Essex, Kent and into Sussex to Goodwood (that’s another story…) I couldn’t help but contrast this with some of the more stark additions to our landscape, and be reassured that some buildings can enhance the natural world, thankfully Spains seems to be one!
To take a short break in the Essex countryside is to relax and unwind in the most peaceful of surroundings. Our largely rural county is peppered with delightful market towns and some amazing landscapes. Essex is a very serene place, and has plenty to offer in terms of exploration, places to visit, and holiday cottages to stay in.
Essex is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend away, or a short break to recharge your batteries. The serenity of the surrounding landscape works perfectly to help you forget the stresses and strains of daily working life. After a busy week in the city, Essex is a veritable paradise of quiet, tranquillity, and nature.
A lot of holiday cottages are a stopping off point between your home and the adventures of a short break. They give you somewhere comfortable to stay, from which you can get out and explore the local area. The cottages located on our Estate, however, get you right into the middle of some beautiful countryside and activities, meaning you can have a great holiday without having to travel very far from your holiday property at all.
11 miles of public footpath
The Estate itself is expansive, with 1800 acres of working farmland. We also have 150 acres of managed woodland that is carefully looked after to ensure the best possible ecosystem. All this is worth exploring, and a gentle walk through beautiful scenery offers the perfect opportunity to clear your mind after a busy week, and there’s nothing quite as serene as a stroll through our woodland.
If fishing is a passion of yours, then you will love our coarse fishery. We have two historic lakes for you to choose from, dating back to the 17th century. Our main lake is stocked with Common and Mirror Carp, ranging in size up to 20lb. We have also recently stocked the second lake with Tench. These offer the perfect chance for a quiet escape, some time alone with your thoughts, and to sit calmly and enjoy the wonderful surroundings. You can book tickets and read the rules for our coarse fishery here.
Holiday cottages on the Estate
You get everything you need for a serene and enjoyable short break with Spains Hall. We have three beautifully renovated self-catering holiday cottages on the Estate, situated on their own to ensure the quietest and most peaceful atmosphere you can imagine. You’ll only have nature to listen to, and we cannot think of a better sound to accompany your short break than that.
Once you have your accommodation sorted out, you can explore the public footpaths or fish in the lakes. If you manage to see everything the Estate has to offer, one of Essex’s most beautiful villages, Finchingfield is located close nearby.
Take a look at our three fantastic holiday cottages.
Due to late cancelations we have not one but two Saturday August date's available in 2014!
Ring us today on 01371 811596 or email email@example.com to come, have a look around and see if we can make your dream day come true!
Our last Mucky Races cross-country event was a huge success so, we're doing it again!
Taking part is pure "mudtastic" fun but don’t just take our word for it, check out what everyone else has been saying on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/spainshallestate.
We can't wait to see so many people at Spains to pit themselves against such a challenging course and we are hugely grateful to Mucky Races for putting the event on!
Check out the taster video made by Red Carpet Video...
We are delighted to have received a 5 out of 5 score for our most recent food hygiene assessment, another perfect result for us and for our clients! Check out the rating on the Food Standards Agency Website.
Couples who held their weddings at Spains Hall during 2011, were invited to a unique event at Spains Hall by Sir Timothy and Lady Ruggles-Brise on Sunday.
In the spring sunshine former Brides and Grooms, with their families and friends were asked to plant a tree in memory of their wedding day or ceremony at Spains Hall.
Some forty guests enjoyed the Spains Hall hospitality, starting the event with a champagne – bucks fizz reception prior to planting their own tree in the glorious grounds of Spains Hall followed by a celebratory lunch in the Stables.
Sir Timothy commented, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome so many couples and their families back to Spains to mark the great occasion of their wedding. The opportunity to plant your own tree is designed to maintain a long and happy association with The Spains Hall Estate. Couples are encouraged to revisit Spains in the future to see their tree and to remember their great day.”
For full details see our website http://www.spainshall.co.uk/weddings/wedding_club/
Contact: Jessica Duck on 01371 811596, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Ruggles-Brise on 07791 780521, Email: email@example.com
Spains Hall restoration nominated for prestigious RICS Architecture Award
2010 saw the completion of an historic renovation of Spains Hall manor house, Finchingfield in Essex. The culmination of almost two years work by a team of skilled craftsmen, Spains Hall is now looking better than ever and forms part of a thriving Weddings and Hospitality business as well as being a wonderful family home. Today Spains Hall stands proudly in its stunning rural Essex surroundings offering an unrivalled experience to all those who celebrate there, thanks in no small part to the quality and attention to detail of the renovation team, headed by Kay Pilsbury Architects.
“Stripping the house back down to its bones gave us the opportunity to learn a great deal about how it has evolved since the early 15th Century.” said Sir Timothy Ruggles-Brise, Spains Hall’s current owner.
“For instance we now know that the original structure, dating from 1410, was a medieval moated farmhouse with a separate kitchen building. This came to light as we were digging trenches for a new set of toilets in the public rooms. The builders uncovered an arched brick cap which turned out to be sealing the top of a live well – in what is now the middle of the house! It was too interesting a feature to cover over again so now the gentlemen at a function in Spains Hall have an interesting view through the floor!”
Other unusual things that came to light as the works progressed included a massive oak beam that had been heavily charred by fire. Sir Timothy takes up the tale,
“We always believed the house had suffered from a fire in the 18th Century but had never been able to find out exactly where the fire occurred or how much damage it might have caused, not least as the house has always remained standing. We uncovered a huge oak beam that had obviously borne the brunt of a serious fire above one of the first floor doorways. Whilst it was almost half burnt through the engineers confirmed that it had plenty of strength left to hold up a whole floor - something to say for good old English oak!”
Spains Hall has gathered a reputation for resilience following the discovery of a notebook giving an account of that the Great English Earthquake of 1884 that was felt at Spains Hall. The earthquake, magnitude 4.6 according to records from the British Geological Survey, was the most destructive in 400 years. Damage to Spains Hall however was limited to a few broken windows and the odd crack!
Spains Hall continues to generate history as the Ruggles-Brise family celebrated 250 years in occupation in 2010 and each year numerous couples are married in its historic surroundings.
An Essex Wedding magazine featured one of our brilliant couples married here at Spains Hall in their March edition as the ‘Real Wedding’.
The Perfect Summer Ceremony
Imagine the perfection of getting married outside on a warm summers day or evening in the historic surroundings of the Spains Hall Rose Garden.
From April through to October we are opening our Summer House to couples for their wedding ceremony. The thatched Summer House and rose garden will give a magical back drop to your wedding.
Both the Summer House and garden are steeped in history dating back to the turn of the 20th Century. The carefully refurbished Summer House is situated within easy access to the main house with ample room in the garden for your guests to enjoy the occasion.
Summer House Ceremonies are subject to the Registrars decision regarding weather.
Unfortunately the Musical evening has been Postponed due to illness amongst the performers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01371 812995 for further information and refunds.
The High Sheriff of Essex - Lady Rosemary Ruggles-Brise DL invites you to join her for “Une Soiree Musicale” here at Spains Hall on Friday 18th November 2011.
We are delighted to welcome the Ensemble De La Chapelle for a musical evening in aid of The High Sheriff of Essex’s Fund. You are invited 7pm for 7.30pm Drinks, canapés and a light supper will be provided in Spains Hall prior to the performance.
The £50 each tickets are limited so please apply now to email@example.com or call 01371 812995.
The latest Ruggles-Brise wedding at Spains Hall came complete with one of the most unusual cakes we’ve seen. Archie’s sister and her husband are mad keen on snow sports and so had a cake designed to match!
Finesse Cakes by Sue Field
Let us cast a spell on you!
Click here to read coverage from the Dunmow Broadcast of our fabulous Corporate Launch, a Wine tasting evening for local businesses.
Spains Hall Corporate Launch
Local businesses enjoyed a wonderful evening of Wine Tasting by Waples Wines, with canapes provided by the Cambridge Dining Company, on the evening of 7th September 2011. The evening provided a showcase for the launch of Spains Hall’s corporate facilities.
Click here to view photos as featured in an Essex Life
Click below to see us in the UK’s No 1 Bridal Magazine - Brides
Youth cricket saved by Spains Hall Estate owners
as reported by the Saffron Walden Reporter
By Nick Thompson, Sports Editor Wednesday, July 6, 2011 12:38 PM
AN under threat youth cricket setup has been rescued, thanks to the generosity of a family that share a lot of history with the club itself.
On Saturday, the Spains Hall Estate invited Finchingfield Cricket Club’s (FCC) junior section to carry out a training session on the front lawns. Junior cricket had been under threat this season, until the estate stepped in to help out.
Club chairman Paul Denman explains: “With our head coach relocating due to work, we were left potentially unable to cover the weekly coaching sessions.
“The Spains Hall Estate which has now become our new club sponsor, is particularly interested in supporting our younger players. They have enabled us to pay for support coaching for this coming season and also to set aside money for training ready for next.”
Speaking after the rescue Archie Ruggles-Brise, manager of the estate, added: “We are delighted to be involved with a community-focused activity for local young players. Historically, the club used to play on Spains Hall’s lawns and it is wonderful to re-establish the direct link.”
Coaching for under 13s, Saturday mornings 10–11 am, runs through the summer and Finchingfield CC welcomes new players of all ages and abilities. Senior nets are Wednesday evenings at 6pm. The club was reformed in 2006 and plays local friendly fixtures. It runs junior coaching sessions, takes an active part in the local community and runs village events, such as the Finchingfield 3-legged race.
For further details visit finchingfieldcc.co.uk or call 07791653484.
Three-legged pub race hailed a success (as reported in the Halstead Gazette)
Villagers were treated to an unusual sight as nuns, Simpsons and the Spartans were seen running around. Seventeen pairs took part in a three-legged race between the cricket club, Fox Inn, Red Lion and Three Tuns in Finchingfield on June 18.
Finchingfield Cricket Club organised the annual race, which is sponsored by Spains Hall Estate and involves crossing the village pond twice. Secretary Jeremy Toynbee said: “They do it for the fun, beer or to raise money for their chosen charity or good cause.”
THE FINCHINGFIELD GRAND 3-LEGGED RACE 2011
When: Saturday 18 June, 3 pm
Where: around the village, centred on pond and green
Seventeen, three-legged pairs took up the challenge of racing around the village, drinking at
the three pubs and fording the pond twice, in the now annual Finchingfield Three-legged
Race. The winners Ian Somerville and Martin Beard set a new course record of 11m30s,
shaving nearly 2 minutes of the previous best.
Lady Rosemary Ruggles-Brise, High Sheriff of Essex was on hand to present the trophy
to the winners and bubbly to those winning the best fancy dress competition, John Robinson
and Cath Littlemore (Wethersfield RSPCA).
Paul Denman, Club Chairman, said: ‘We were delighted with the turn out considering the
squally weather and thank all those who helped make it a wonderful occasion, particularly our
pubs The Fox Inn, Red Lion and Three Tuns.’
Sir Timothy Ruggles-Brise, of club sponsor the Spains Hall Estate, added: ‘We are
delighted to be associated with the club, in particular its junior section, and with this wonderful
event. Sponsorship money is still coming in I understand, but a provisional total of at least
£1300 has been raise for local and nation charities, including Wethersfield RSPCA and the
Children’s Heart Foundation, and the club.’
Further info available from Club Secretary Jeremy Toynbee on 07791653484 or
Photos from are available at
IF YOU WANT CAPTIONS PLEASE EMAIL ME WITH THE PHOTO NOS AND I’LL SUPPLY.
Finchingfield CC was reformed in 2006 and plays local friendly fixtures. It runs junior
coaching sessions, takes an active part in the local community and runs village events, such
as the Finchingfield 3-legged race.
For further details about Finchingfield Cricket Club please
visit our website at http://www.finchingfieldcc.co.uk or contact the Club Secretary on 07791653484.
Spains Hall Estate Family-owned Spains Hall and its exquisite grounds have the flexibility for a variety of events including weddings, parties, private functions, meetings, conferences, corporate fun days and fund raising events. All levels of hospitality can be provided from fine dining to a buffet or hog roast, with venue exclusivity and a wide variety of packages available to suit your requirements and budget. For further details please visit our website at www.spainshall.co.uk
Always in the party mood. Anglia Business Magazine promotes Spains Hall for Christmas parties.
See the press cutting here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: 3rd June 2011
A NEW PARTNERSHIP – A NEW LOOK – A NEW DIRECTION
Spains Hall, one of the finest venues in Essex for weddings and corporate events has recently formed a new partnership to take the business forward into to new areas of
events and functions.
The new partnership driven by 31 year old Archie Ruggles-Brise will of course still host weddings as it’s core business but will develop corporate business and other private parties and events.
“We have recently given ourselves a make over with a new branding, the launch of an impressive new website and a stunning brochure. Our new image is much cleaner, simple and endorses the feel and fabric of all we offer at Spains Hall.” commented Archie.
Our new website is much easier to navigate and takes you to where you want to be quickly. It has been designed to be inspirational and interesting for the user whilst readily giving all the detail that goes into planning a wedding or an event.
See coverage of this story in the Press..
Guildhall Campaign Launched
As reported by the Braintree and Witham Times
A campaign to restore a village landmark has been officially launched.
The team behind the restoration of Finchingfield’s Guildhall hosted a reception for more than 100 guests at Spains Hall, the home of High Sheriff of Essex Lady Rosemary Ruggles-Brise and her husband Sir Timothy.
It was to celebrate raising £1.6m, which allows work to start this autumn, and to launch the campaign to raise the remaining £150,000 needed to complete work.
High Sheriff visits Harp homeless centre
A Charity for the homeless that aims to expand in Southend received a special visit from the High Sheriff of Essex.
HARP (Homeless Action Resource Project) wants to transform the empty Darnley Hotel, in York Road, into a combined accommodation and training centre. It would provide 24-hour help, including 21 beds, living space and training rooms, as well as a dedicated medical centre. It would replace the day centre, in Valkyrie Road, Westcliff, which is in poor repair, as well as the 14-bed night shelter, also in York Road.
It was High Sheriff Lady Ruggles-Brise’s first visit to the day centre. She was invited to find out more about the services provided. As part of her tour, she was shown plans for the Darnley Hotel site, as well as more immediate plans for a medical room, staffed by doctors and nurses, at the day centre. She said: “The Harp project is a very needed charity. “It was lovely to see the way everybody is extremely positive about the services they receive, as well as the quality. “The charity does a tremendous job. “The facility is cramped here and it is a very progressive team, which wants to expand.” As well as providing breakfasts and dinners, the centre also offers basic training skills, as well as a change of clothes, food parcels and internet facilities to search for jobs and accommodation. The charity has helped between 1,500 and 2,000 people a year since it launched 25 years ago. It hopes the move to the £1.25million accommodation and training centre will allow it to aid even more people.
Caption: Lady Ruggles-Brise with Dwayne Curtis, 40, during her visit to the HARP centre
Neal McArdle, the charity’s resettlement team leader, said: “We would be able to offer better quality services and help more people. “The location would mean we could work closely with clients.” The charity still needs £400,000 to carry out the scheme. It is in the process of completing a planning application for the scheme. The move follows a positive response from a public consultation. The proposals will be submitted to Southend Council ishortly. To donate to the project, call 01702 615000 or visit www.harpsouthend.co.uk
Take a look at our videos showing what we can offer for your Wedding Day - a great snapshot of our service. Then come and see for yourself to talk through your special day!
Lady Rosemary became the 831st High Sheriff of Essex on 29th March 2011. In an historic declaration ceremony held at Chelmsford Crown Court Lady Rosemary made the solemn declaration in front of the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Petre, Crown Court Judges and the outgoing High Sheriff, Michael Hindemarsh.
To learn more about the High Sheriff’s work and fund-raising activities visit www.highsheriffs.com/Essex/Index.htm
Welcome to the New Spains Hall Website. We hope you find all the information you need, in a clearer, and more attractive format.
We would love to hear your comments! Please email… firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spains Hall is located just outside Finchingfield – widely regarded as the most beautiful village in Essex. The Estate is a prominent featureof the local environment and community. It plays an important role both as an employer and as a focus of local history.