Ancient barns are a Marriage made in heaven

A COURTYARD of historically “important and unique” barns has been saved from crumbling out of memory.

Philipa and Richard Marriage were given permission by planning authority Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to change four of the barns at Colville Hall in White Roding into a wedding venue.

The hall is surrounded by seven barns – all of which are Grade I, II and II*-listed and date back to the 12th century. The Marriages bought the main house two years ago after falling in love with it. And, upon realising the surrounding barns were falling into disrepair, they embarked on a two-year journey to restore and maintain them.

“Within months of us moving in we had representatives from English Heritage, the district council, listed buildings and the architects here discussing a way to save the barns as none of us wanted them to fall down, which they would if they were left,” said Mrs Marriage.

“English Heritage was very keen but the only option it gave us was to convert them into a wedding venue.

“It would burn through our finances in a matter of months if we had to pay for the maintenance out of our own pocket so we had to find a way for the barns to bring in an income.”

The planning authority has allowed the venue to operate for 80 days of the year. The Great Barn will be used for ceremonies with the reception taking place in Orchard Barn. The remaining barns will be turned into accommodation.

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The owners have also agreed to put in a new access road and noise limiters on the music system to appease neighbours.

Mrs Marriage stressed they had “no intention” of moving on once the work is complete, which she said would take around two or three years.

“I would like to think this house will never leave my family now – we love it here and intend to stay,” she said.

The plans were almost thrown out as the village’s residents and parish council raised concerns but it was decided the barns were too important to lose and gained approval by a single vote at a meeting of the council’s planning committee last month.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Christina Cant said: “There is no way we can refuse this – the barns are so important that they need to be protected.”