This is an excellent venue: We got married here on the 18th May 2013, and we had the wedding we’d always dreamed of. Both the day before and on the day itself the staff at the Great Tythe Barn did everything they could to make the planning and execution as relaxed and stress free as possible. For our day, we wanted the site to ourselves so we booked the house and all the cottages bar one (this was saved for the owner as he normally lives in the house) and of course the barn which gave us an intimate setting with close friends and family within which we could celebrate.
The staff were really helpful. Please ignore any bad reviews of old, all the historical issues i could find have been resolved mainly due to their bringing in their hospitality manager Tim who has taken charge and steered the venue in the right direction. I was relaxed on the day because I knew we were in safe hands as (thankfully) was the my wife.
Since I’m reviewing this as a wedding venue – I will break the staff for the day into staff for: GTB, The GTB Bar and finally the Caterers as these work as separate entities.
THE CHANGE: The Great Tythe Barn has undergone considerable change over the last 18 months since we made our booking. When we first booked, we had a number of concerns about the venue: firstly relating to the state of the rooms in the cottages, these have now been repainted and soft furnishings replaced – I personally checked each cottage prior to guests arriving and all were excellent.
Secondly, there was (I don’t know if there still is) an additional charge to turn on the fairy lights, this was waived when we took issue with this prior to booking, it really felt like an ill thought out penny pinching move, I’d rather they just hid it in the overall cost of the barn – hopefully this won’t be charged / visible going forward – if they hadn’t waived this, we wouldn’t have booked on principal but they did the sensible thing and waived it.
Thirdly, if there is considerable mention of the owner in the reviews – he no longer features in the day to day running and he was perfectly pleasant during the whole of our time there both prior to and on the day, in fact we hardly saw him. He’s chatty enough and generally keeps to himself, but if you do talk to him and he disagrees with something you're doing just smile and nod, the staff will keep him out of trouble and your day on track.
The visible GTB Staff can be broken down into Rebecca, Tim and Rhoda (plus behind the scenes).
Rebecca: Your main point of contact for all venue enquiries – she is lovely and will work to make your day as perfect as possible. Junior to Tim, who ultimately makes decisions away from what normally occurs at the venue. She has a lot on managing up to 3 weddings a week plus events, so occasionally needs some prodding and might say you’ll get something by Monday, when really it’ll be Tuesday - though she was excellent, organised and extremely helpful. Going forward it might be easier if she had slightly more power, because when you ask for something she can’t OK it until she’s run it past Tim - so any unusual requests or any that are contrary to the norm you might want to run past her and Tim together.
Tim:- ultimately made me feel in control of the day, as I understand it he’s brought most of the changes that have transformed the barn into a customer focused venue. He made me feel that the space was our space to do what we wanted. It’s what I wanted from the outset and if that continues because ultimately that's what everybody wants from their wedding venue.
Rhoda: She manages the accommodation side of things, exceptionally helpful with my numerous part payments for accommodation, and sorted out my rushed spreadsheets - an absolute pleasure to deal with.
We had help from a number of other people while setting up on the day, when we needed a ladder or anything help was to hand and we didn’t feel a need to panic so really no complaints.
Lisa is your main contact at the Bar, as I understand it her and her team are subcontracted by the venue: so basically the bar are making their money from commission on drinks – something that’s not immediately obvious when you book which caused a slight confusion initially. Lisa will also be your master of ceremonies if you like and she was great at it. Lisa is excellent – she’s efficient, friendly and we were encouraged to personalise the bar with our own barrel of bitter, and a cocktail of our choice (not sure if that credit goes to her or the venue for that) - we loved this tailoring of the day – the prices were very reasonable (read same as at local pubs) which is great especially for a wedding venue and there was no feeling of being ripped off which we specifically wanted to avoid for our guests since we find at hotels and other wedding venues it appears to be a common gripe.
The only part of the bar that wasn't made clear to us when we first booked was that if you pay corkage, the bottles of wine won’t be on your table for guests to pour. This was something we had always envisaged since we’d gone to the “trouble” ;-) of tasting a lot of wine and driving round collecting the 100 or so bottles we required for the day. I believe the bar’s reasoning is to prevent people hiding bottles for later and not buying from the bar, which is fair enough since they run an excellent service and put a lot of staff on to support your day - they really worked superbly on the day. Due to ours being a larger wedding, we were able to put bottles on tables so long as they no longer replenishing bottles at about the speeches stage which worked well for us – and hopefully for them too. I would have been happy to pay them for any lost revenue if they had felt it. So it would be useful to be notified of this detail of the venue and have direct access to Lisa to discuss these things from the start rather than finding out a couple of weeks before the wedding, which is why I’m writing it here. To reiterate Lisa and her team were excellent and we have no complaints.
We used a local caterer called Cater Cater for our food, they are no longer a preferred caterer for the GTB so unfortunately you can’t use them for your day but Beth, who was our point of contact was excellent. I don’t know exactly why the caterers are no longer preferred caterers, but they won caterer of the year 2012 for the region and for us were brilliant. Together with the venue they make for an excellent event – so maybe one day the barn will reconsider them as preferred caterers. When we had two extra people on the day they were happy to accommodate them, when I forgot to organize food for the band, they made it work with no stress. The food was well presented and delicious - exactly what we wanted – I would gladly use them for any event in future and can’t recommend them enough.
We had everything exactly how we wanted it on the day of our wedding, there is nothing that didn’t go to plan - or when it didn't that wasn't handled well by all involved. Rebecca, Tim and Lisa made the day stress free and combined with some excellent caterers, there’s nothing I’d change. Advice to other people who might get married here is to run all your plans past them at the outset and if you want to do something different, they’ll more than likely accommodate you. In short: Get married here, the only thing they can’t guarantee is the weather.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear Pete and Toni,
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Many thanks for taking the time to make such a fulsome review of The Estate. Indeed we have spent many man hours on giving ourselves a facelift, without taking anything away from the essence of the place. Your recognition makes those long January & February hours worthwhile, more pleasing when you have seen the before and after for yourselves.
I will answer most of your points for the sake of clarity, but foremost we all here wish you both all the happiness in the world for your future lives together.
To be clear there has been no extra charge for the fairy-light canopy since I arrived here ( you originally booked prior to my arrival ). I'm glad that you found all of the staff here professional, courteous and efficient in their roles. To be clear Rebecca is fully empowered, but we do discuss some of the more tailored aspects of certain weddings - a usual business practice.
Lisa is immediately available to any couple once they have booked; she is not salaried by the venue, and the commission aspect ensures a level of hunger from her team to deliver the best of results, which you kindly recognised. The pricing is done in conjunction with the Barn, and does not take advantage of the fact that there is a captive audience as we strongly believe in people having a good day on a day of celebration.
The subject of corkage; we charge per adult head and for the routinely do the pouring ourselves, mainly for the reasons you outlined above, however I am pleased that we were able to accommodate your request in this instance.
Finally in respect of the caterers who are indeed very good, they chose not to continue working with us, over a year ago, and this is the only reason they are no longer with us as a venue. Their service and team are very good and have been industry recognised.
All in all it seems that, after your initial rocky start, we managed to meet every one of your needs with aplomb; which I am delighted with and will pass on your thanks to the whole of the rest of the team.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.