Words by Alice Westgate
“It is a real hidden gem,” says Lucy Edward-Collins, speaking of Trewardale, a graceful Georgian manor on the edge of Bodmin Moor. “Part of its beauty lies in the fact that so few people know it is here.”
Nestling in 150 acres of Cornish countryside near the village of Blisland, the house enjoys a rural seclusion that is precious in the 21st century. In fact, when Lucy first came to Trewardale in 2009, approaching the house along the wooded drive, she was quite taken aback when its grand, white-painted façade came into sight. “George, my future husband, had brought me here to meet his family,” she recalls. “My first glimpse of the house took my breath away. It is a very special place.”
For the past 30 years, Trewardale has been home to George’s parents, Vicky and Charles Edward-Collins, but the house has been in their family for more than 300 years. And, though a dwelling on the site was mentioned in the Domesday Book, the present building dates from 1763.
It is not surprising that every room in Trewardale is steeped in a sense of history. The walls of the dining room are lined with ancestral portraits, while the drawing room glitters with a huge chandelier that was installed in the days of Charles’ great great grandfather. “Anything that has been done to the house more recently has been done properly and authentically,” says Lucy. “Being here is rather like stepping back in time.”
Yet, like so many lovely country houses, the cost of maintaining the building and its grounds is something of a burden. Charles, who used to farm sheep on the surrounding land, now runs several businesses, including holiday lettings agency Cornish Traditional Cottages, which operate from a converted servants’ block next to the main house. George is property partner, while his sister Harriet runs another branch of the company, Scott’s Castle Holidays.
So a plan was mooted to open up Trewardale as a venue for wedding receptions and other special events. “Trewardale is a family home, and Charles and Vicky are great entertainers,” says Lucy. “So we knew from experience that the house naturally lends itself to hosting everything from shooting parties to clay pigeon shoots.” It has also been used for photo shoots by the likes of Burberry, Fred Perry and Scotch House.
Lucy, who had for many years worked as an executive PA in London, was the obvious choice to oversee Trewardale’s new venture, and had first-hand experience of its suitability as a wedding venue because she and George had their reception here in 2010. “We got married in Blisland church on a wonderful summer’s day,” she remembers. “Afterwards, friends and family enjoyed champagne and canapés in a marquee set on the old grass tennis court in front of the house. It faces south, so gets the sun all day, and it has stunning views over the ha-ha and down across the valley. We didn’t have to work too hard at anything because the house and garden were perfectly suited to the occasion. They made a wonderful backdrop for all the photographs, too.”
Though ideal for large receptions, Trewardale has many other hidden corners that can be magical for smaller parties: in a walled garden by the pool is a summerhouse that can accommodate up to 30 guests; then there is the opulent dining room and the grand drawing room that are perfect for around 50 and 30 people respectively. It is hoped that all of these will be licenced for civil ceremonies in the near future.
Two of Trewardale’s six bedrooms are also available to wedding parties. The most impressive is the bridal suite, also known as the Blue Room, which has its own dressing room and en suite bathroom. “It is a wonderful space for the bride to get ready,” explains Lucy, “and it has the most perfect view down on to the front lawn.”
Guests are welcome to make use of Trewardale’s grounds, too, from the informal secret garden around the lake to the terrace that is surrounded by colourful planting in spring and summer. “The house and garden come alive when there are plenty of people to fill it,” says Lucy. “This is a real home, not a production line, so a wedding here will feel different from a wedding at a hotel. We hope that it will be a home from home for our guests.”
Lucy juggles her work as events planner with the role of mother to her two-year-old twin boys, William and Orlando, who will one day follow in the footsteps of their father and grandfather and help to run Trewardale. “It is an amazing privilege to be part of such a large and loving family,” says Lucy. “Safeguarding the future of the house is a tremendous responsibility, but it is wonderful to have the chance to preserve it for future generations.”
For more information about weddings and events at Trewardale, call 01208 821798; to download the online wedding brochure for tips on organising your special day, visit www.trewardale.com
The price to hire The Old Tennis Court for a reception starts from £1,000 (excluding marquee), but there is a 25% discount on the first two weddings booked in 2013.