An award winning wedding venue, Crockwell Farm has extended its functions offering to corporate clientele
Having cornered the market in weddings, the family team at Crockwell Farm launched into the business market, offering an idyllic yet well connected location for conferences, meetings and team building events. We talk to Amy Cox, daughter of its founders, farmers Bay and Hermione Harper.
When did you start your business and what is its history?
Crockwell was, and still is, a working family farm. My parents Bay and Hermione Harper originally started diversifying by converting the farm buildings into conference and event facilities in 2001. The stone buildings were in need of repair and were more suited to becoming the basis of our event business than housing big farm machinery.
The business continues to move on every year, with the latest development being the enclosure of an open archway to make a stunning entrance with glazed oak doors and a big iron chandelier. At the heart is the vaulted barn where we host meetings and wedding ceremonies. Two cottages form part of the very comfortable accommodation which we offer. Bay and Hermione are still integral to the running of the business, and I have a full time role.
Tell us about your location and site
Crockwell is located in rural South Northamptonshire, within easy reach of both the M1 and M40 motorways. The function areas comprise the stone vaulted barn, permanent internal marquees, which are sited within the original grain barn, and a covered veranda. There is extensive outside space with pretty gardens and paddocks which can be used for team building activities.
We have planted a wide strip of wild flowers alongside the drive and have put up park railings to complement the field in front of the venue. Our rural location is probably our biggest challenge for corporate clients. However, when they have visited once, it generally becomes the main attraction!
What facilities for corporate functions do you offer?
We have the stone vaulted hall which can accommodate up to 40 ‘dinner dance’ style, or 30 for a boardroom set up. It is connected to the internal marquees which are fully insulated and feature a bar where we can serve refreshments. The main marquee is approximately 18×16 metres and can seat up to 200. Meals can be served inside or on the veranda if the weather is kind. In total we have nine en-suite bedrooms housed within cottages and the main farmhouse. We can also find extra accommodation locally if it is required.
What services do you offer?
We offer help planning all events and full catering. We can also recommend outside suppliers for team building activities such as clay pigeon shooting, quad biking, llama trekking etc.
Describe how you researched and sourced any ‘team building’ activities?
Team building activities that are ideal at Crockwell tend to be those that make use of our outside space (although we do have plenty of space inside the marquee for bad weather) and our rural location. We have had great feedback on activities such as clay pigeon or laser shooting and quad biking. Crockwell is also a great spot for sporting or fitness events with footpaths, fields and space for yoga or stretching.
How did you research and source you structures?
Our marquees have evolved and grown over the years; we are always looking at competitors to make sure they are still contemporary and up to date. The big attraction of our marquees is that they are housed within fully insulated farm buildings, so are completely weatherproof and easy to heat or cool. We have installed a biomass boiler and have a very efficient heating system throughout the venue.
How do you work with your customers to make their event unique?
We offer exclusive use for all events and work with the organiser to ensure the event is tailored to their needs; from set up and decoration if needed, through to catering and accommodation.
How do you publicise yourself?
Primarily through our website and also a small number of online directories.
How would you describe your ‘style’ or unique selling point?
Crockwell is situated in a stunning, tranquil location so it offers something very different from a lot of corporate venues in towns or large hotels. This is our main USP for corporate clients along with our flexible meeting spaces both inside and out.
Exclusive use is also an important factor; we would never cater for more than one event on the same day, which offers more flexibility and privacy for the client.
What challenges have you faced?
Lots! Crockwell is constantly changing and evolving and one of our biggest challenges is keeping the venue current and improving our offering. Ensuring that we have flexible inside space is always a priority when planning outdoor activities with the British climate.
What are your plans for next season?
To continue to grow the business with more events and a wider range of activities. We close for January in order to carry out any necessary building work or maintenance and this year we are looking to install a hot tub on the wooden veranda in addition to ongoing improvements to the bedrooms and cottages.
Describe your average day mid-season
We cater for a wide range of events so it can vary greatly; if we have a conference or meeting we will be providing refreshments throughout the day and be on hand to ensure the smooth running. We also cater for a large number of weddings so weekdays can be busy showing around prospective wedding couples as well as corporate clients.
Why do you enjoy the business?
The work is hugely varied; we work with some great people both here at Crockwell and through outside suppliers, and we enjoy an idyllic location. As office jobs go, this is a great one!
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
Primarily weddings. We offer outside ceremonies in the orchard pavilion, and the gardens are wonderful for receptions, but we have plenty of indoor space if the weather does not co-operate. Our main attraction for couples is the fact that we don’t take bookings on consecutive days. This gives them the chance to enjoy the venue with their immediate wedding party for two days.
What are you most proud of?
The continual growth and evolution of the business, our unique offering and maintaining our high standards of service.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Both the conference and wedding industries are hugely competitive so you really need to be offering something unique that clients can’t find elsewhere.
In house, erected and serviced by Umbravilia Marquees www.umbravilia.co.uk
Honesberie Shooting www.honesberieshooting.co.uk
Event Solutions South www.eventsolutionssouth.com
NFU Mutual www.nfumutual.co.uk
Chopping Block www.choppingblock.co.uk
Northamptonshire, NN11 3QA