A DOWNTON Abbey-style historic hall has been officially named at a national awards as the top venue in Wales to get married, for the second year running.
Soughton Hall in Northop, Flintshire, was also a regional winner again at The Welsh National Wedding Awards, claiming the title for the best venue in North Wales as well as clinching the top spot as the best venue in the whole of the country.
The Grade II* listed luxury wedding and events venue is owned by Elle R Leisure, a Manchester-based family firm which is well-known for its successful Dukes 92 and Albert’s Restaurants across the north west.
The firm also owns a luxury boutique hotel called Woodlands in Leeds which specialises in weddings and is behind the recently completed makeover of the former Beeches Hotel in Standish, near Wigan, which has been transformed in to the fourth Albert’s restaurant in their growing leisure portfolio.
The company, owned and run by Managing Director James Ramsbottom, took over Soughton Hall three and a half years ago and have since spent close to half a million pounds completing an extensive and sympathetic renovation of the interior.
General Manager Russell Bridge is the man in charge of the team who work hard to create the perfect day for their bridal parties and was there to collect the award on the night.
Russell, 38, said: “We work so hard at Soughton Hall to ensure every single wedding day here is special and I think it is this consistency that has seen us win the award for the second year running.
“It feels all the more satisfying because the awards are voted on by brides and their guests themselves and for us, that’s the most important endorsement we could ever have.
“It’s wonderful when we receive such positive feedback from our brides but it often comes from the guests themselves too who will write and tell us what a fantastic day they have had.
“That’s when I feel most proud of the very high standards we strive for here, because it tells me that not only have the immediate bridal party had a wonderful day, but the people they have chosen to be with them have also had a great time and that’s really important.
“We want it to be the most memorable day for everyone.”
Russell, who has worked in hospitality for more than 20 years, added: “Soughton Hall is a magical place and you cannot fail to be impressed as you turn into the magnificent lime tree-lined driveway and the stately hall starts to come into view.
“There’s no doubt that it has the wow factor but we need to always ensure that this special place, with its rich history, is backed up with a warm welcome and a first class service and I feel very proud of the team that we achieve this for every single wedding day.
“I work with a fantastic team here who all play their part in looking after the fine reputation we have built up at Soughton Hall and the award is recognition of their hard work and care.
“I think Soughton Hall is also extremely appealing to people because brides take it over exclusively and feel like it is theirs for the day, complete privacy in the most spectacular of surroundings.”
The Welsh National Wedding Awards have been running for nine years and aim to formally recognise the ‘tireless work, undeniable passion and complete commitment’ of businesses in the wedding industry.
Soughton Hall was built in 1714 by Edward Conway and remodelled more than 100 years later by the famous Sir Charles Barry whose iconic work includes the Houses of Parliament and Highclere Castle of Downton Abbey fame which was home to the Crawley family in the hit ITV period drama which has also been made into a blockbuster movie. It was sold in the 1980s by the Bankes, who were the last family to live at Soughton and it was turned into a hotel welcoming celebrity guests such as Richard Burton and King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
It is now an exclusive wedding and event venue, catering for up to 200 guests at a time, and the team there have already looked after 90 bridal parties this year. There are more than 100 weddings already booked in for 2020.