Iconic Ripon mansion gearing up for exciting summer season

The owners of an iconic North Yorkshire mansion are gearing up for an exciting summer season as major renovations to its events space continue to take shape.

The Old Deanery, in Ripon, has enjoyed a successful four months since its initial opening in January 2022 – and is on track to becoming a sought-after location for weddings, birthday parties and celebrations.

Since acquiring the keys in August 2021, the owners, Rebecca Hill and Chris Layton, have single-handedly carried out extensive refurbishments to the Jacobean mansion’s interior and exterior.

Exciting changes to the interior include the initial point of entry, where staff have single-handedly transformed the bar area into a welcome lounge – ensuring a cosy, warm and inviting feel for guests when they arrive at the venue via its red-carpet entrance.

Delving back into the mansion’s Jacobean past, the owners have also paid homage to the venue’s roots by removing the existing modern stainless steel bar and purchasing new high-quality, traditional-style furniture, giving the ‘welcome’ room an exceptionally homely feel suitable to the era of the building.

With innovation in mind, the owners have also relocated the bar to the ‘garden room’, which now comprises a handmade wooden bar with oak tops and crate shelves. Stocked to the brim with locally sourced beer, the bar offers Black Sheep in Masham and Yorkshire Vintners, a Ripon-based wine, alongside classic favourites such as draft lager, bitter and IPA.

In addition, the team have rolled up their sleeves to repaint and redecorate the bar area, installing two trees around the bar that serve as a nod to their York-based Forest restaurant at Galtres Lodge. The main function room has also been painted, with new panelling installed and rugs added to offer grandeur and soften the area.

The smaller function room at the rear of the ground floor has also been converted into a game and cinema room – comprising a large cinema-style screen complete with comfy seating and electric black-out blinds for a fully immersive experience.

Minor cosmetic changes were additionally made to the bedrooms, such as upgrading the furniture to adhere to the style and age of the building, with plans to put down new carpets throughout the bedrooms and corridors.

The owners have also transformed the mansion’s exterior, showcasing their green thumbs to help the venue’s stunning willow trees return to their former glory, whilst beginning work on a pagoda – with hopes to transform it into a secret area for guests to discover when exploring the garden grounds.

New gravel pathways around the garden have also been constructed and lighting has been installed in the car park, illuminating the nearby Ripon Cathedral and providing guests with imposing and impressive views from the interior function rooms.

Discussing the progress of the past six months, Rebecca said: “With The Old Deanery having only opened its doors to guests at the start of 2022, we’re off to an amazing start – and this is just the tip of the iceberg!”

She added: “We are no strangers to getting our hands stuck in and doing the hard work ourselves. My husband, Chris, loves old buildings and insists that they “talk to him” – so a quick and unsympathetic rip-out and re-fit would not have worked for us personally. We live in the property, so have learned what works best and adapted accordingly, which is an overall slower process but ensures that the history and character of the building is not only retained but showcased and celebrated.”

“This approach seems to be working very well for us – local people are responding positively to our renovations and are keen to support the venue. We have already hosted several events, including two birthday parties, a wake, our wedding, and another wedding for a local couple. We have a good number of events booked in for the rest of the year and into 2023, and even some weddings booked for 2024, but we still have good availability if people want to enquire.”

She said: “This has been an undeniably big year for The Old Deanery, but we are not done just yet! With an old building and event space the work never finishes – it grows and develops, so there will always be something to work on or touch up. Looking ahead to the summer, we hope to buy a new a pool table for the rear of the game room alongside making vast improvements to the storage areas, so be sure to watch this space – the best is yet to come!”

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