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The “Old Chapel” at Barden Tower – renovation into a brand new wedding facility

Added on 16th February 2016
Set in the shadow of the imposing ruin of Barden Tower, The Priests House has built an excellent reputation for weddings, medieval banquets and fine dining. The House itself is quite unique, genuinely medieval and very cosy, limited to a maximum of 34 for a sit down meal. Small, intimate weddings have been a key feature of the business for many a year.
“We love to do smaller weddings, their exclusivity and privacy in such a fabulous setting are valued so much by the couples and their guests. They are a pleasure to work too as the couples are generally so relaxed, at least once the ceremony nerves are over!” says Debbie, the proprietor.
The Priests House was, as its name suggests, primarily a chapel with living quarters for the local clergy. The main dining room is actually the original balcony to the chapel. Due to its limited capacity, a marquee has supplemented the House in recent summers to facilitate larger wedding receptions and other private functions.
“We have had some great events in the marquee not just wedding receptions, but music nights and other private celebration parties. We were initially hesitant about buying a marquee but the demand for larger events became infectious. It certainly provides a different feel and atmosphere to a proper building, but we do live in Britain and the enjoyment of the event can be so dependent on the weather”, says Mark, part owner and chef, “however, it is fair to say that we have had one or two close calls with the summer storms in recent years”.
It is all about to change though. The House is having an external makeover with roof, chimney and wall repairs. The Old Chapel, which has stood empty and unloved for over half a century, is to be given a brand new lease of life. Work has already started by the Chatsworth Estate on the renovation under the close eye of Heritage England and it will become a brand new function venue capable of holding up to 80 guests. Appropriate licences have been applied for.
“We have been waiting eleven years for this renovation to happen. It has been such a shame to have such a fabulous facility left completely unused, save for use as storage. We are so excited that this will now be available and open to our customers to enjoy” says Debbie.
The internal works include a complete replacement of all the windows, vandalised and boarded up many years ago, roof repairs, new under floor heating and electrics. The kitchen cellar will become a food preparation area and an old wall taken back to allow access.
“We want to retain the true medieval feel to the Chapel so are not planning extensive changes to the interior fabric – we will just let it speak for itself” concludes Debbie.
The renovation is expected to be complete by May 2016 and there are exciting events being planned to mark its opening. Keep an eye on the newly launched website at www.thepriestshouse.co.uk for details.

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