If you’ve explored our venue ‘Home Tours‘ then you’ll know we have a serious passion for interiors (and generally being a bit nosey) – so when Emma, owner of Tythe, got in touch to tell me all about plans for their brand new Farmhouse I simply had to follow their renovation. So today, the first instalment is all about the inspiration and intentions for this new addition (with a sneaky mood board), as well as a look inside the venue’s gorgeous rustic aesthetic.
Over to Emma…
Tell us about the history and story of The Tythe Barn?
The Tythe Barn (now rebranded as ‘tythe.’), built back in 1370, would have originally been used for storage and more importantly to receive ‘tithes’ or rent which was an amount of money that a person gave to their local Church – usually equal to one tenth of that person’s income.
Set in rural Oxfordshire the barn has been a part of the Deeley family farm for over 500 years and for the Deeley’s it started life as the lambing barn. Acting as a shelter for lambs in the spring and cattle in the winter, The Tythe Barn served a vital role on the farm. As farming evolved and earlier processes became more sophisticated, the barn became increasingly more redundant and the family looked to breathe new life into the building recognising early on that its history and unique character oozed potential for a next adventure.
In 1998, the Deeley family looked at restoring the barn and its roof and discussed possible options for the future. Considerations included a gymnasium and fitness hub but when the oldest son Peter Deeley was looking for a venue for his own wedding the barn seemed like the perfect spot. Back then the barn offered a simple backdrop and trestle tables, chairs and loos were all hired in alongside the makeshift bar. A simple beginning but the inspiration for the barn as a wedding and event venue was firmly established.
In 2003 the adjoining Cowshed, formerly an exposed area for animal feeding, also benefitted from a sympathetic restoration transforming the hickledy-pickledy wood and stone structure with a gorgeous old terracotta roof into a welcoming and light-filled space.
Much later, around 2012, The Nook was established. With the same principles that we had given to this charismatic cluster of old Oxfordshire farm buildings, Will and I set about restoring the third and final barn on the setting using salvaged stone and materials from the farm to create a wonderful hideaway for the bride or groom to get ready. At the same time, The Shepherd’s Hut was built, using an old dilapidated caravan sat side by side for reference, and the venue extended its offering to couples with an overnight Honeymoon Suite.
How has the wedding side of the farm grown over the years?
The Tythe Barn marketed itself for a number of years as a venue for weddings, events and private parties but it became apparent fairly early on that the most popular use for the setting was for weddings.
The barn acquired a licence for civil ceremonies very early on and with the option for both indoor and outdoor weddings the demand for couples to marry at the venue increased at a rapid rate. Having grown up on the farm Will had an intense passion for the barn and a very specific approach towards its careful restoration.
Having met Will at University in 1988 when we were both 18 and spent a considerable amount of time together on the farm, the two of us are incredibly devoted to the business and our attention to detail comes from this raw and unquestionable desire to ‘get it right’. Will and I are fiercely creative, have an insatiable drive for perfection and a genuine interest and attention for our couples which has proved to be a winning combination.
Initially we had hoped for around 6 weddings a year, we then thought if we could double that to 12 then it would allow us to take on some additional staff. In 2018 we were averaging around 80 – 90 weddings annually and our team had grown substantially! Never known to sit comfortably on our laurels, Will and I have consistently looked at ways in which we could improve our offering and keep on top of trends. Restoring adjoining barns, trying out new caterers or creating new menus and adding new touches such as the pizza oven and outdoor wood burners has kept the venue fresh and ahead of the game for many years.
At the heart of our farm lies the impressive 14th Century, thatched-roof Main Barn. An integral part of our family farm for over 400 years, much of the original building still stands today. Over the years we’ve sympathetically restored the space with unrestrained love and dedication, bringing it into the modern day without losing an ounce of its historical charm.
Behind the enormous barn doors you’ll find Cotswold stone walls beneath a canopy of rustic oak beams and space to host up to 200 plus guests. A breathtaking backdrop for your wedding day – the barn can be completely transformed to suit your individual style.
As the name suggests The Nook is a secluded spot tucked away from the action. Cosy and comfortable, the space has the homely feel of a rural retreat with the specification of a high-end hotel, providing everything you need to get ready with your nearest and dearest. Impressive interiors and flooded with light this is an incredible setting and only steps away from the Tythe Barn.
The Cowshed & Hovel
Formerly an exposed area for animal feeding, The Cowshed has since been transformed into a welcoming space for our wedding guests and offers a charming spot for reception drinks or late evening munchies. Built into the original stone wall is a large pizza oven, while three flame-effect fires offer a cosy space to sip cocktails or rest tired feet.
What are the plans for the Farmhouse?
The Farmhouse has been the family home and therefore the hub of family life for the Deeley’s for over 500 years. Will, like his Father, Grandfather and Father before him grew up in this wonderful 15th Century Manor House and the building sits at the heart of the family’s working farm.
The plan will be to redesign and re-imagine The Farmhouse for our wedding guests so that it offers the perfect ‘home from home’ a stone’s throw from the Tythe Barn and gardens. The Farmhouse will be offered exclusively to couples choosing to book Tythe for their wedding and will be available for a minimum of a 2-night stay.
Guests will be invited to arrive at 4pm the day before their wedding and depart at 11am the day following their celebrations which will provide the wedding party with quality time together across a few days. The Farmhouse will be offered with a wonderful food and beverage option or couples may choose to stay on a self-catering basis.
The Farmhouse will be looking to offer seven double bedrooms including a Honeymoon Suite, two large reception rooms, a dining room, country kitchen, open fires, a tennis court, a wonderful wood-fuelled hot tub and there will be an adjacent Shepherd’s Hut with sleeping for two – all right next door to the Tythe Barn.
At present, the actual layout for rooms is still under discussion but the house will unquestionably be kitted out in typical Tythe-style. Guests will enjoy countryside living at its very best within an exclusive and intensely private retreat cradled by the raw beauty of rural Oxfordshire.
What is your style inspiration for the new accommodation?
My style can be seen throughout the existing venue and could possibly be termed as a mix of raw, rustic luxury. I love combining textures and materials so that polished metals might sit on bare stone and aged old timbers may serve as shelves for cut glass and champagne glasses.
I like to be as individual as I can and love nothing more than lying in bed at night thinking up innovative ways to style and design certain spaces but I also gain much inspiration from magazines, Pinterest and my travels both home and abroad. I am also inherently focused on breathing new life into old items or structures rather than buying new. The farm is an ideal environment for this and so much of the buildings and décor around the venue are found on or around the farm itself.
I am also incredibly keen to tap into our local talent – in our village alone we have a super cool ceramicist, a wonderful artist and an award-winning chef, and our neighbouring village boasts a traditional chair maker, renowned seamstress and a baker of the most delicious cakes. I often wonder why so many people seek out the generic and mass produced when there is often an abundance of craftsmanship and products of superior quality sitting right on our doorsteps.
The Farmhouse will be refurbished with a very close eye on its history and heritage and I will be keen to remember throughout the renovations its role over hundreds of years as a typical English farmhouse, and home to generations of farming families. That said, my guilty pleasures when I stay away from home are luxurious roll top baths with a view (of the countryside), cosying up in deep, velvet Chesterfields by open fires, sinking into a bed of fine linens and chunky woollen throws or sipping cocktails at a bar surrounded by textures, simple but eye-catching design, plants and plenty of space for friends and family.
How would you love couples to use this new space?
We want The Farmhouse to feel like a ‘home from home’ when guests stay with us.
We will be working hard to create an environment for our guests that allows them to feel totally relaxed, intensely private and tucked away. Couples will be encouraged to indulge themselves in the beauty of their very own countryside retreat and to soak up all that will be on offer. The onsite tennis court, hot tub, cosy lounge and open fires, huge impressive farmhouse kitchen and the luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms are their playground for the weekend – we want The Farmhouse to be the start and the end to a perfect wedding experience at ‘tythe.’
With time at The Farmhouse the day before the wedding, we will be offering an Afternoon Tea on arrival on the lawn with croquet or tennis or on colder days tea and cake by the open fire. There will be an option to have a relaxed dinner the night before and a chance to catch their breath before the excitement of the wedding day. The couple will be able to choose where they get ready, The Nook or The Farmhouse and both settings will be perfectly adapted to suit either party. The Farmhouse offers a great space in the morning with plenty of entertainment to keep you busy – think pool table, darts, tennis and The Nook offers a wonderful place for calm, close to the main barn if you want to keep an eye on all your ideas coming together. Both areas will also provide a fabulous setting for the wedding morning preparations!
How can we keep up to date with the renovations?
We will be keeping all of our Instagram followers regularly up to date with the progress of The Farmhouse on our feed so please do make sure you follow us @tythebarnlaunton on there and our other social media accounts. We will also be adding more detailed posts to our blog page on the ‘tythe.’ website.
And, of course, we’ll be updating this series soon with the progress! So stay tuned…
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