About, News

Ellingham appoints Executive Head Chef fit for royalty

We’re thrilled to announce, multi award-winning Chef John Blackmore, has joined the Hall as our new Executive Head Chef.

John, who has cooked for the Queen and was responsible for putting Alnwick on culinary map, has been appointed to lead the kitchen team as we head into our busiest season to date!

Even John’s extensive culinary experience, which spans over 40 years, couldn’t have prepared him for his super busy start at Ellingham. We thought we’d treat him to a quick break, a brew and chat to find out how he’s finding his new role.


How’s things been since joining Ellingham?

Busy. Ha! It’s been great, busy, but really great.

Although we weren’t running as many weddings as usual for this time of year, things were just as busy behind the scenes. As well as investing in staff and new equipment, one of my first jobs was to create the new 2022 menus for all our couples. It was important I spoke with the team to get a real understanding of what we currently offered, and how we could really drive standards and give people the best wedding experience possible at the Hall.

Over the last month, the team and I have ran a number of tasting events where we’ve catered for over 70 couples, and I look forward to the Autumn when we will be running more of these experiences. I’ve also been working closely with producers to ensure my kitchen brigade have the highest quality of ingredients available to them – this year, we’re proud to say we’re working with more local suppliers than ever, driving our sustainability focus at the Hall.


Taking you back, how did you start your culinary career?

I started my career back when I was just 18 at college. I was privileged to receive an award at the Savoy London for ‘Outstanding Student of the Year’ twice. Following this I was appointed as an apprentice at the InterContinental Hotel in London’s Park Lane and the chain took me to France, Germany and Switzerland.

Moving back to Northumberland with my wife, I opened my own restaurant in Alnwick and owned The Tankerville Arms in Eglingham, before moving to Newcastle United to head up the kitchen brigade at The Magpie Room. In the role, I helped steer the restaurant to the Good Food Guide; the first Premier League club to reach the achievement. Since then, I have worked in several well-known restaurants and wedding venues locally, including The Cookie Jar in Alnwick.


What has been your proudest moment as a Chef?

I was chosen to cook for the Queen while I was at Newcastle United and that is the highlight of my career. She was in the region in 1997 and had just opened the Siemens factory and was received by Sir John Hall for lunch. She was a really nice person and it was such an honour to be chosen to cook for her.


With the 2022 menus now finalised, what would you say are your favourite dishes?

It’s a tough choice. For starters, I’d say the Cheese Soufflé, followed by the Cajun Fried Seabass. The one thing the team already know about me, is I’m a real sweet tooth. I love my desserts, so that’s the hardest to choice for me. I’d have to say Bakewell Tart, I could eat them all day and night!


What are you most looking forward to at Ellingham?

I’m looking forward to helping Ellingham Hall become bigger and better. I’m also so excited to be working with such a friendly team – there’s a real buzz about Ellingham, from the venue, to the staff and all the couples I’ve interacted with so far. The team here are lovely and it’s great to work with such a professional group of people who really care.

Love in Lockdown, News

Love in Lockdown | Leanne & Joel

Original Wedding Date : 11th April 2020

Second Wedding Date : 14th April 2021

Wedding Status : Due to be married 16th August 2022

At the outset of our journey, one of the things that was really important to us was finding a venue that felt like a second home, offered a two-night stay and also had the wow factor – a very difficult combo to find. From the initial phone call with Wendy (Head of Weddings), who excitedly invited us for a show around, we were totally sold by her warm and genuine manner – you just knew that she cared. We remember driving to Ellingham for the very first time and Leanne had actual goosebumps – for those who have not physically been to visit and take a look around – you must! The building itself looks so grand and right out of a fairytale. Once you walk inside it is so inviting, on trend and utterly amazing. We sat down with Wendy and as soon as she started talking to us we knew it was the one. Yes, you need to love the venue itself but the staff are equally as important. We just knew Wendy and her team would take us under their wings and ensure our day was as perfect as we wanted it to be. Plus it really felt like our home – we can’t describe the feeling but are sure all of you other Ellingham couples will know what exact what we mean.

If we are honest, in 2020 we had a gut feeling around February time that something wasn’t right – other countries were going into lockdown, people were scared and there was something in the air that pointed to the worst happening. When Boris announced the March 2020 lockdown we lost all sense of rationale – we were in shock, we didn’t know how to cope, what to say, how to act and ultimately what was going to happen with our Wedding and the World. We remember feeling guilty of mourning our big day as so much was happening around us, but we eventually came to the realisation that we were allowed to do that. We had planned for so long and invested so much time for our day that was snatched from us (like thousands of other couples). Every possible question went through our heads; What if our family are impacted? Will guests lose their money from accommodation booked nearby? Will there be any other dates available for us? Will we lose our money? Will Ellingham help us? Initially, we were fearful or our wedding, but also Ellingham for its business and its staff and their safety and welfare. The team worked so hard to ensure we had another date and continue to care deeply about all of their couples who become part of the Ellingham Family.

Once we were over the initial shock and moved our date to April 2021 (and after a few months of eating gallons of Ice Cream) we finally had new heads on our shoulders. Yes – it was not going to be the day we had always dreamt of, but it would be amazing and safe no matter what. If we are honest we had in our minds that we would not settle for less than 30 guests to attend the day and at the time we hand on heart believed come April 2021 would be totally normal… how wrong we were! Nonetheless we adapted… Leanne more so than Joel, had so much fun thinking of ideas to make mundane objects such as the sanitisers as ‘Weddingified’ as she could. We bought perfume bottles which were personalised and filled with sanitiser to hand out to guests upon arrival, ‘pimped up’ face masks and even had individual guest games packs for each table (as we were preparing for no Live Music or entertainment). There were so many ideas flying around of how to make the day as fun as possible and somehow ‘Covid’ bingo and sitting musical statues even made their way on to the list! We knew that no matter what happened we were determined to make the day as memorable and as personal as we could – we simply had to!

The second move of our Wedding date to 2022 was so seamless and every member of the Ellingham Team have made us feel positive and excited all over again as they knew how hard of a decision it was so move our day out a second time. Ellingham adapted with the situation we were in and surpassed all expectations – even using the time to update the hall and make changes which we can’t wait to see. We have heard of so many horror stories regarding couples and their venues during this time and our hearts really go out to them – it’s adding an additional element of stress to the already massive ‘Wedding Stress’ we all face when organising our big days. The Ellingham team know how we both feel about them and we can-not WAIT to celebrate our big day there.

On to date number 3….first and foremost, if date number 3 doesn’t go ahead we have decided to move planets! Joking aside, we can’t describe it – it’s like we have started planning our wedding all over again but with a lot less stress attached (Leanne has also become less of a Bridezilla which was required). When we think back to March last year, it was so much scarier than it is now; we thankfully have more knowledge a year later and the vaccine is being rolled out quickly. We have high hopes for the upcoming months and Weddings (big or small) are going to return to a state of normality. Us COVID brides and grooms can handle anything!

We can’t wait to see if all of our friends and family together. All laughing, hugging, chatting, and appreciating each other’s company. We are sure for most people this pandemic has been an awful time in regards of seeing friends and family and especially when concerning those most vulnerable who have had to shield pretty much all year. How amazing will it be to see them surrounded by the people they love and witnessing us all finally getting married. If COVID has taught us anything it’s to not take the little things for granted and oh how we will celebrate with everyone on the day. Watch out Ellingham we are ready to PARTY!

Is there any advice you’d give couples reading your story and going forward?

We have said this for a long time, each and every one of us are different. We have different values, priorities and orders of importance when it comes to elements of our Wedding Days. There is no right or wrong answer in all of this, but you must go with your heart because remember in all of this, these memories will stay with you for lifetime and you do not want to live with any regrets! Our biggest advice is to roll with the punches as much as you can and embrace every situation you find yourself in.

August 2022 – we are coming to get you!

Love in Lockdown, News

Love in Lockdown | Rachael & Gavin

Original Wedding Date : 16th September 2020

Wedding Status : Married on 16th September 2020 celebrations scheduled for October 2021

We had originally booked our wedding at Ellingham back in January 2019. When it came to booking the venue, we were mindful we had friends and family scattered across the country and so when we began our search for a venue, we wanted somewhere that our guests could descend on and that was exclusively ours for the whole weekend. Ellingham was the first venue we visited and afterwards knew that we didn’t need to see anywhere else. It ticked all of our boxes and just blew us away.

The team at Ellingham had been wonderful from the moment we booked our wedding with them and during lockdown it was no different! They were always at the other end of the phone to answer the many ‘what if’ questions we had – even though they were often as uncertain as we were about what was going on. As we got closer to our date and battled with our own uncertainty they were really helpful in giving us options and helping us to re-plan our day. Their communication was excellent throughout the whole process. When lockdown began in March we knew we’d have a long period of uncertainty as we waited for news on weddings resuming and the circumstances under which they would. We remained hopeful that by October 2020 things would be different, but sadly they were not.

In the weeks leading up to our wedding we were hit with so many Covid-19 rule changes, including the ‘Rule of 6’, the ‘North East Local Lockdown’ and then the guest numbers being cut from 30 to 15 with two weeks to go. As a result, we had conjured up a plan for every possible ‘what if’ and outcome we could think of, but it sadly meant that we had to re-arrange our actual plans about four times. Each of these iterations of the plan meant that we were cutting back more and more from what our original ‘Wedding Day’ should have looked like. However, we knew getting married on our original date was so very important for us, so we pushed ahead regardless. Once we had made the decision to go ahead with just the legal ceremony at Ellingham regardless of whatever further restrictions were going to be thrown at us, we were excited! Finally, it felt like we were back in control of our wedding! Although making the decision to go ahead was exciting for us, it was, at times, overshadowed by a feeling of impending dread that we’d be hit with yet another restriction or have it taken from us last minute, like we had heard happen to so many other couples. It was only really the couple of days before when the panic started to fade and the excitement started to build.

When it came to our actual wedding day, it was perfect… truly perfect. It was nothing like the wedding we had originally planned all those months ago, but we were ok with that. We were safe in the knowledge that we get to do it all again next year, with hopefully a few more people!

What we experienced on the day was nothing short of spectacular. We were apprehensive before the day arrived that the Hall might feel a bit empty with only the 15 of us, however we were wrong. As our guests were arriving, everyone gathered in the Entrance Hall and Blue Room. After the ceremony, we had arranged for our pianist to play during the small drinks reception. As a result, the majority of our guests gathered together in the Entrance Hall, only moving through to the Blue Room to cut the cake later on. As a result, with a bit of clever crowd management and some lovely live music, the place had a real buzz!

On top of the ecstatic feeling of becoming husband and wife, we shared an overwhelming sense of achievement having gone ahead after facing so much doubt and uncertainty. We felt so lucky to share such an intimate celebration with our immediate family and closest friends, in the beautiful surroundings of Ellingham Hall. Everyone who was with us on the day fell in love with Ellingham too and can’t wait to come back next year. We also can’t wait to share our day with the many loved ones who couldn’t be with us to celebrate this time round next October.

Is there any advice you’d give couples going forward?
Focus on what is important to you. Restrictions and guidelines changes are outside of your control and it’s easy to get distracted by what you can’t do instead of focusing on what you can do. We would suggest speaking with your venue, your suppliers and other couples about their experience. Do your research. The day won’t be what you imagined when you first started planning but that doesn’t mean it won’t be special. In fact its a very different kind of special. We felt we had a lot of time to really spend with our guests and our fantastic photographer had plenty of time to get some really cool shots of us – even suggesting going to the beach, which you would never normally have time to do. If you, like us, just want to get married we recommend that you just go ahead! You won’t regret it! Love cannot be cancelled.


Venue Hunting: Getting to know your potential venue

So you’ve just started your wedding venue search and have shortlisted a number of venues which seem perfect for you both, but what do you do next? The next step in any wedding planning journey is to take a tour of the venues you’re interested in, get a feel for how they flow, how they operate, and where possible, meet the team behind the scenes.
Depending on the venue, there may be a whole host of options available to you.

Types of tours:

Like many venues, at Ellingham, we host a number of tours to help make the venue hunting experience as easy and enjoyable as possible, so whether you’re a 20-mile, or a 200-mile journey away, you get a real feel for the Hall.

Tours at the venue

Undoubtably, the most popular type of tour is a visit to the venue in person. As well as seeing the space first-hand, it gives you a great opportunity to visualise your day and importantly, you’ll also get the opportunity to meet the team. Industry heavyweight Bridebook says, aside from a venues aesthetics, the most important factor when booking a venue is the team.

Hamish Shepard, Owner of Bridebook, explained; “Couples want to know that you are genuinely nice people, that they can trust you and have confidence you are there to give them the greatest day of their lives.”

At Ellingham we aim to make sure, the team who take your round on your first look of the venue, also continue with you on wedding planning Journey.

“As soon as we walked through the door, we knew Ellingham was the right venue for us. It was really warm and cosy, with all the fires roaring and Anthony, the Managing Director who we met on our first visit, was just so lovely and down-to-earth! We were greeted with big mugs of hot tea and sat by the fire in the blue room for our initial conversation and didn’t want to leave. The service we received from our very first visit at Ellingham Hall wildly outdid any other venue we saw…and we saw a lot!” – Ami & Kam

Booking an appointment is often easy to do by requesting a viewing online and many may even have a designated page on their website to book and viewing slot

Zoom tour appointments

Over the past year, we’ve seen a surge in virtual engagement in the wedding and hospitality sector. In a market which was once dominated by face-to-face interaction.

As wedding Industry Expert Kelly Mortimer explains, “Even post-Covid, we envisage couples viewing less venues in person and only going on site to see their top one or two!”

Although at Ellingham we’ve always offered the opportunity for a virtual tour appointment, with many of our couples being based out of region and abroad, this year we took the opportunity to invest in technology, to enhance the virtual venue experience for couples.

Wendy Sproul, our Head of Weddings explains, “I genuinely love welcoming people into our Hall whether that’s over Zoom or through our front doors. Anyone who knowns me, knows how much of a people person I am, and looking after our couples is what I do best.”

“Remember from the minute you walk through the door, be that in person or virtually, you need to feel welcomed and feel right at home.”

Virtual Appointments can be booked online, and our multi-award winning team would be happy to take you on a guided tour of our beautiful venue.

360 Degree Tours

Many venues are now able to offer 360-degree tour simulations of their venues, allowing you to wander through spaces by click and drag technologies – this allows for a fully immersive viewing experience. The best part about Our 360 virtual tour at Ellingham, is many of our couples use this tool to show to family members, or close friends as this can be accessed any time. The only downside to using this channel is many venues, like us at Ellingham, are continually investing in the in the venue, so you’ll find exciting changes season to season, year on year.

Ultimately, the ‘getting to know your venue’ element of your wedding journey is often down to what works best for you both as a couple; whether that is based on preference, location and of course, the time you have available to look into each venue. Never be afraid to approach a potential wedding venue, and if you can’t get in to view with them in person right away, try a virtual tour first and then you’ll know if they’ll be worth the wait! 

Love in Lockdown, News

Love in Lockdown | Ami and Kam

Original Wedding Date : Saturday 7th November 2020

Wedding Status : Married 4th November 2020

As soon as we walked through the door, we knew Ellingham was the right venue for us. It was really warm and cosy, with all the fires roaring and Anthony, the Managing Director who we met on our first visit, was just so lovely and down-to-earth! We were greeted with big mugs of hot tea and sat by the fire in the blue room for our initial conversation and didn’t want to leave. The service we received from our very first visit at Ellingham Hall wildly outdid any other venue we saw…and we saw a lot!

Our original plan was a huge 130 guest Autumn wedding so we could share our big day with all our family and friends from Northumberland (where I am from) and Dorset (where Kamron’s family are from and where we now live). We had booked a band, almost sorted out everyone’s accommodation and were very excited to enjoy a weekend of festivities at the stunning venue.

Once the pandemic hit and as our wedding date got closer, the team at the Hall guided us through what our various options were when restrictions changed, and changed again!

Our original date was 07.11.2020, until less than a week before this, Boris announced Lockdown 3.0 to was to come into effect from 05.11.2020. That put a stopper on our original date! But, by nothing short of a miracle, we were able to reschedule our day to the 4th November. Our calls with Anthony on the run up to the wedding kept us sane. When we did decide to move our wedding forward by a couple of days at very short notice – they really pulled out all the stops and worked through the night to make it happen for us and we will forever be grateful.

Our family have described our wedding day as “magical”, “a fairy tale” and “just the best day”! Not having over 100 guests present meant our two families really got to know each other, which really means a lot to us as they live a seven-hour car journey apart.

Despite all the last-minute changes, and the stresses of the last year-and-a-bit of planning a wedding during a global pandemic, our wedding really was the best day of our lives – and we wouldn’t have changed a thing! Apart from maybe booking our string trio, Aurora Strings, for longer than we did – they were simply incredible and filled the hall with the most enchanting music!

If there’s any advice we could give to couples it would be 100% be to just go for it! Go ahead, stick to your date and have the best day of your lives with the people around you who you care about most. We only had two small concerns on the days running up to the wedding which was would 15 people look out of place at Ellingham? i.e. reception rooms would look empty with our restricted numbers? Not at all! Even the large airy chapel, where we chose to have our wedding ceremony worked so well.

One of our other concerns was that there wouldn’t be much we could do to keep guests (and ourselves!) entertained for a full day, but we didn’t stop – in the best way! In the absence of an evening of dancing, we had our first dance outside surrounded by sparklers before we all gathered round the newly installed firepit where the Ellingham team surprised us with hot chocolates, marshmallows and extendable forks for melting them! We then retreated inside for a game of “Mr & Mrs” and later in the evening we settled down in the “blue room” for a movie night on a gigantic projector screen with comfy sofas and beanbags, drinks, popcorn, sweets and wedding cake. It was a blissfully busy day!

From the very outset, the amazing Ellingham team could not do enough for us. David and Wendy were fantastic and couldn’t have done any more for us throughout the day itself, nothing was a bother and they felt like an extension of our guestlist!

You won’t regret it one little bit. Secondly choose an amazing photographer and videographer to capture your day in all of its glory – you can then share all the best bits with all the people who weren’t able to attend on the day and they will feel like they were there anyway! We would highly recommend Carn Patrick Photography and Abigail Grace Videography – they were the actual dream team!

Images Carn Patrick Photography

Love in Lockdown, News

Love in Lockdown | Olivia and Liam

Original Wedding Date : 11th July 2020

Wedding Status : Celebrations pending for July 2021

Our original wedding date was booked for 11th July back in 2020. We loved the venue’s intimate atmosphere, exclusivity and fabulous décor and immediately knew it was the venue was for us. Their 2-night wedding experience was just what we were looking for and we loved the idea of being able to have all our family with us the night before and the night of the wedding.

When lockdown hit in April, it became clear our wedding would be impacted by the COVID pandemic. Throughout the national lockdown, the Team at Ellingham communicated with us regularly and were transparent and honest with us from the beginning.

​One of the best things about this whole situation was Ellingham allowed us to put a backup date in place a couple of months before our original date was due to take place. This reduced a lot of anxiety/worrying and enabled us to make a decision that was right for us, when it was right for us. There was some relief but also a lot of gratitude to the team at Ellingham for making it possible – we cannot thank the team enough for all they have done for us, when they say they are only a phone call or email away they really mean it. Since the point we moved our date, we have felt excitement towards our new date.

The Ellingham Team have been amazing throughout – they have done their best to accommodate all our needs and requests, and they really do have their couple’s interests and feelings at the core of what they do – I actually feel like I have made some good friends!

​Looking to July next year, we really cannot wait to have our closest family and friends around us for a couple of days. We feel we are going to appreciate the happy times so much more. One thing we are the most excited about is the arrival the day before the wedding and having a BBQ with everyone the night before. I also can’t wait to Wendy a big hug!

If there’s any advice we could give to couples finding themselves in the same position, it’s to communicate with your venue and suppliers; if you are not sure what to do- ask them, if you are feeling un easy about something- talk to them. The way Ellingham and our suppliers have been with us has been amazing, we could not ask for anymore. Finally, remember everyone is in the same situation, be patient and kind; the happy times will return.

Love in Lockdown, News

Love in Lockdown Series

Over the past 12 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed our day to day lives and for us at Ellingham, as a wedding venue, this has meant we have had to cease operating for nearly a year now. Although our doors have remained closed for much of the past year, this hasn’t stopped our team from working remotely behind the scenes, nor has it stopped our couples from planning and replanning their weddings with us. At the Hall, we’ve worked, and continue to work closely with all our couples to ensure they still have the best wedding experience possible despite the COVID pandemic dominating our lives.

Now that the road map is in place for the weddings and hospitality sector, we wanted to take the opportunity to showcase couples’ stories from over the past year. Our ‘Lockdown in Love’ series focuses on their highs, lows and how their hope, optimism and support from the sector have got them through this past year. This series will cover every scenario from couples postponing their wedding date, to marrying on their original date and postponing their big party to later, and even those who’ve brought their wedding forwards – strap yourselves in over the next few weeks for a truly emotional rollercoaster.


Ellingham welcomes a new General Manager

This month, we’re pleased to share the appointment of David Fordham-Scott as Ellingham Hall’s new General Manager.

David’s extensive hospitality experience spans over 23 years and it’s his knowledge, ambition, and commitment to the enhancing the customer experience which makes him the perfect fit for Ellingham Hall.

David is no stranger to the venue, as a small boy he often visited his Great Grandmother who lived in the village. David’s family also have strong connections with Ellingham, his uncle attended the Hall when it was formerly a Prep School and it wasn’t until his recent appointment with us that David learned his Nana and Grandad were actually married in the Chapel 62 years ago – talk about a small wedding world!

David explained; “Ellingham Hall is well-known in the industry as an unforgettable two-night wedding experience – a one I’ve always greatly admired. That combined with my family connections, love for the venue and value for customer service, means I’m thrilled to be part of such a dedicated and hard-working team.”

“I have a real passion for delivering first class customer service and providing couples with the most magical day of their lives; It’s so encouraging to know I’m joining a team who share my vision. Having only just started working at the venue this month, I’ve already been made to feel so welcome. It’s been a great few weeks and I already feel like part of the Ellingham Hall family.”

Anthony Hunter, said; “David couldn’t be more suited to working at Ellingham Hall. He prides himself on being customer focused and on delivering an award-winning wedding experience – all the things Team Ellingham continuously strive for.

Anthony had previously held the role of General Manager at the Hall for over 10 years. This month, Anthony has handed over the baton to David as he takes on a directorship role for the company. His new role is to further the growth, development and future direction of the business at Ellingham, alongside beginning work on our second wedding venue, launching in 2021.

David added; “I have known and respected Anthony for a long time and l am looking forward to combining our knowledge and experience to further develop the offering at the Hall, as well as working closely together on a number of upcoming exciting new projects.”


Ellingham Hall hosts it’s first socially distanced two-night wedding experience.

When Keith and Elizabeth booked to marry at Ellingham Hall back in April 2019, they never imagined their day would coincide with the worldwide COVID pandemic.

Throughout all the announcements and daily press briefings from Downing Street, Keith and Elizabeth held firm and kept the faith in holding onto their original wedding date, even if it did mean they needed to stick within the government guidelines. 

Rebecca Graham, Head of Weddings and Events, said; “Working with the couple week by week was a real honour. On top of all the original stress planning a wedding can typically throw up, throughout it all, we’ll always remember Keith and Elizabeth asking us ‘how we were?’ and if ‘all the team were holding up?’ – it was us who were lucky they choose to marry at our venue!”

“We can’t thank Ellingham Hall enough for being flexible & helping us to come up with solutions which meant our special day could go ahead. This has been a tough year, but your creative support has been invaluable. A venue and a team not just about the wedding, but about the couple. We can’t thank you enough.” – Keith and Elizabeth.

A huge thank you to Rosie Davison Photography for sharing images of the couples day with us.


Officially open for viewings!

We’re pleased to share from this weekend we’ll be opening our doors for pre-booked private viewing appointments with members of our wedding team, for couples looking to host their two-night wedding with us.

Viewings are strictly by appointment only as we continue to operate in line with government’s social distancing guidelines. To book yours, email info@ellingham-hall.co.uk or click here (Link to the pop up to fill out their details)