Easton: New wedding venue offers all-in-one package set on a Suffolk farm

Owners Alastair and Sian Kerr at the new Easton Grange wedding venue. Photo by Tony Pick www.tonypic

Owners Alastair and Sian Kerr at the new Easton Grange wedding venue. Photo by Tony Pick www.tonypickphotography.co.uk - Credit: Archant

A major new wedding venue which offers guests a slice of Suffolk farm life has been launched at Easton, near Wickham Market.

Simon Robson (Director Galloping Gourmet), Matt Wilson(Operations Manager Galloping Gourmet) Sian Ke

Simon Robson (Director Galloping Gourmet), Matt Wilson(Operations Manager Galloping Gourmet) Sian Kerr (Easton Grange) Angus Hastie (Director Galloping Gourmet) Ali Kerr (Easton Grange) - Credit: Pearl Pictures

Easton Grange is the brainchild of Alastair and Sian Kerr, who have restored and renovated a set of ancient farm buildings up a farm track to create an upmarket ‘one-stop’ wedding experience, from the ceremony and reception to overnight accommodation, which will bring new trade to the county.

Easton Grange Chefs Andy Gotting (Galloping Gourmet Executive Group Head Chef) & Stanislav Stasevit

Easton Grange Chefs Andy Gotting (Galloping Gourmet Executive Group Head Chef) & Stanislav Stasevitsh (Easton Grange Head Chef) - Credit: Pearl Pictures

Alastair, whose father, John Kerr, bought the venue from another farmer about quarter of a century ago, started on the project around 2010 and says it is already attracting customers from other parts of the UK with no Suffolk connection.

Vicky Chappell (Easton Grange) Natalie Duncker (Regional Events manager)

Vicky Chappell (Easton Grange) Natalie Duncker (Regional Events manager) - Credit: Pearl Pictures

“I was effectively a derelict set of farm buildings, an old dairy farm,” he said. “We were basically looking for alternative uses. We then looked at the whole concept of creating a venue which would provide everything on site.”

Even the catering, provided by Galloping Gourmet, is based on site in purpose-built kitchens. It is aimed primarily at the weddings market, but would also be suitable for other celebrations and events.

“The whole idea is to have the site exclusive for your function,” said Alastair.

A traditional Suffolk farmhouse on the site has been converted to provide guest rooms and a honeymoon cottage for the bride and groom is next door.

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Lawns sweep down to a picturesque bend in the River Deben, and the area is surrounded by meadows and farmers’ fields.

The building work, carried out by Hills Construction of Colchester, began in January 2012. Alastair did not want to be drawn on the cost of the project, which attracted some European funding, other than to say it was “quite a bit”.

“It has been a challenge, but hopefully it looks as though it has been worth it,” he said.

The venue was “all about food and quality”, he said, and around five permanent staff, as well as a number of temporary ones, will be employed at the site.

“There are some other places similar to this, but not with the same backdrop. We wanted to get something really unique so it would attract people to the area. We wanted to get something really unique. We are hoping it will be really beneficial. We have got two weddings booked from completely outside the area,” he said.

“We have got 12 weddings booked for the rest of the year but we have just started to push the marketing.

He was “really pleased” at the way it had come together, and at the “generous reaction” locally.

The idea of converting the buildings followed a couple of parties held in the barns about five or six years ago, he said.

“They all said it was a wonderful site and we thought we had to do something,” he said.

His father, John, said the project had exceeded his expectations. He had originally planned to use the site as a dairy but the economics didn’t stack up. Instead, the buildings were used for general storage.

“East Suffolk has got a good name for quality,” said John. “I think the concept of a quality destination is a good idea. You are not sharing it with people having lunch in the dining room or other residents. I think that’s a big attraction.”