We often get asked, when a bride or groom is booking us, whether we’ve been to a particular venue before. And, to be honest, we’re out so much that sometimes it’s difficult to remember any particular venue in detail. With that in mind, we thought we’d put down a list of our (current) favourite venues in Dorset. Or venues that we love to go to because they look so special. We are not suppliers to any of these venues.
The Crown Hotel, Blandford (The Crown Hotel, West Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7AJ Tel: 01258 456 626). Right at the very heart of Blandford. Run by Hall & Woodhouse (a regional family brewer), it is the oldest inn in Dorset. There are conference and banqueting facilities for up to 180 people and a large car park.
Milton Abbey (Milton Abbey School, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 0BZ Tel (Events office) 01258 881872). A fee paying boarding school set in it’s own valley. In 80 acres of beautiful grounds, it makes the perfect place for a quiet (or very noisy) celebration - no one can hear! Only available for hire in the school holidays and half terms.
Bennetts Water Gardens (Bennetts Water Gardens, Putton Lane, Chickerell, Weymouth, Dorset, DT3 4AF Tel: 01305 785150). A world famous garden centre and home to the National Collection of Water Lilies (Nymphaea). Set in 8 acres of gardens there are a whole range of beautiful points for photographs.
Swallows Rest (Martleaves Farm, Swallows Rest, South Road, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 9NR Tel: 01305 785244). Enjoys stunning views over Chesil Beach and towards Portland. It boasts a wedding field and camping for guests on the wedding night.
The Weymouth Pavilion (The Esplanade, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 8ED Tel 01305 780909). Offers a real difference to the whole idea of a venue. The Pavilion is a working arts centre - so there’s every chance you could be saying your vows on the stage!
Swanage / Isle of Purbeck
Grand Hotel (Burlington Road, Swanage, Dorset BH19 1LU Tel 01929 423353). Commands spectacular views across the bay. It’s a classic Victorian Hotel with exemplary service standards. It also boasts a full spa & fitness club - which might be useful to work off the excesses of the night before!
Kingston Country Courtyard (Kingston, Swanage, Dorset BH20 5LR 01929 481066) is a gem of a place. Set on a hill over-looking Corfe Castle & easily accessible from Swanage - a lovely sea-side town with lots of accommodation on offer.
Sherborne / Yeovil / North Dorset
Haselbury Mill (Haselbury Plunkett, Nr Crewkerne, Somerset, TA18 7NY Tel: 01460 77095). In glorious Somerset countryside, Hazelbury Mill boasts buildings that date back to the time of William the Conqueror The Mill is reportedly mentioned in the Doomesday Book of 1086. it prides itself on being the ultimate Somerset venue.
Sherborne Castle (New Road, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5NR Tel 01935 813182). Family home of the Digby family since 1617. Linked with Sir Walter Raleigh and with some of the grounds by Capability Brown. They are only open from April to end of October which is worth bearing in mind!
Dillington House (Dillington House, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 9DT Tel 01460 258 648). Yet another gorgeous Jacobean / Elizabethan house. Built with mellow Ham stone (so sun rises and sun sets are quite astonishing), this is rightly famed for it’s elegance and exclusivity.
Stockbridge Farm Barn (Stockbridge Farm Barn, Lower Stockbridge Farm, Sherborne. Dorset. DT9 6EP Tel 01963 210 776). Truly spectacular & private. Can boast one of the finest medieval barns in the country.
Marsham Court, Bournemouth (3 Russell Cotes Road, East Cliff, Bournemouth, Dorset BH1 3AB. Use BH1 3AU for the hotel car park. Tel 01202 552111) This hotel is one of our favourites because their staff are so helpful. Situated just opposite The Russel-Cotes Museum The hotel is convenient for the beach or the centre of town (although the walk back is a bit of a puff!). This hotel is wonderfully central and welcoming.
The Royal Bath Hotel, Bournemouth (Royal Bath, Bath Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 2EW Tel: 0871 221 0191). This would probably rate as the best hotel in Bournemouth. Rated 4 stars, it was the first hotel in Bournemouth and has a prime position right on the sea front. It also has a sizable garden (the secret garden with a gazebo, no less) and has that “Wow” factor in spades.
Parley Manor (Parley Manor, Parley Green, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 6BB Telephone: 01202 580545). Parley Manor is one of the hidden gems of the Bournemouth and Poole wedding venue market; it feels like you’re in the countryside but it’s only about 20 minutes from the centre of Bournemouth. Not only that, but it is also very close to Bournemouth airport - excellent for any guests flying in.
Sandbanks Hotel, Poole (Central Reservations, FJB Hotels, 15 Banks Road, Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset BH13 7PL. 0800 4840048). This hotel is one of the FJB Collection of hotels (there are four in the Poole / Bournemouth area). It happens to be one of our favourites simply on the location. Situated right on the beach front, the hotel is also really convenient the centre of town or excusions into the Isle of Purbeck or further afield.
Upton Country Park (Upton Country Park Estate Office, Upton, Poole BH17 7BJ Telephone: 01202 262 753). Upton Country Park is on the east side of Poole. Set in over 100 acres of award winning woodland, gardens and parkland. Upton House is a magnificent Georgian Grade II listed building, suitable for most functions. The House is also licensed for civil wedding ceremonies.
Rushmoor Golf Club (Rushmore Golf Club, Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5QB Tel 01725 516391). It has the unusual distinction of having a golf course in two counties. The clubhouse can accommodate up to 80, whilst the restaurant is licensed for up to 150 people. Spectacular views along with wildlife - all from the clubhouse.
Lamer Tree Gardens (Larmer Tree Gardens, Rushmoor Estate Office, Tollard Royal, Salisbury, Dorset, SP5 5PY Tel 01725 516 971) is probably the finest example of Victorian extravagance in the UK. The gardens were created by General Pitt-Rivers who was an eminent archaeologist at a time when archaeology was little understood. The gardens themselves are stunning and reason enough to hire this venue.
Old Wardour Castle (Old Wardour Castle, Nr Tisbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire - SP3 6RR) is run by English Heritage. Set within a beautiful landscape, Old Wardour Castle has romance and breathtaking views in spades! Currently only available for hire between March and November, this venue caters for intimate receptions and ceremonies.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel (Fore Street, Evershot, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 0JR Tel 01935 48 2030) is a grade 2 listed property in Evershott village (about 13 miles from Dorchester). It was originally a dower house, built in 1798 by the 2nd Earl of Ilchester. There is a connection with Thomas Hardy in that he was commissioned by the 6th Earl to draw up plans for a second floor.
Athelhampton House and Gardens (Athelhampton House, Athelhampton, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 7LG Tel 01305 848363). An imposing 15th century manor house in a renowned architectural garden, that enjoys the status of being one of Dorset’s main tourist attractions (something like 40,000 visitors a year).
Kingston Maurward (Kingston Maurward, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8PY Tel: 01305 215050). Set in the heart of Dorset, this is a beautiful 17th century house with magnificent gardens (and a lake) set within a 750 acre estate - despite Dorchester being only 2 miles away it’s really tranquil. Magnificent, high ceiling rooms.
The Priory Hotel, (Church Green, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 4ND Telephone: +44 (0)1929 551666) is an historic, country house hotel on the river offering luxury accommodation, fine dining, & glorious gardens with stunning countryside views, all in easy reach of Studland, the Jurassic Coast, Lulworth, & Sandbanks (Poole).
Springfield Country Hotel (Grange Road, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5AL Tel 01929 552177 ). Very close to Wareham. It is a large, family run, hotel with facilities, such as its’ Spa & swimming which make it very attractive for families and businesses’ alike.