Recently we were part of an incredible photo shoot that took place at Hemswell Court, a venue imbued with the rich heritage of Lincolnshire’s relationship with the RAF. Hemswell Court is situated in Hemswell Cliff an area first used as an airfield for military flying as far back as 1916 as part of the expansion of the Royal Flying Corps. The landing ground was developed into a proper training airfield but returned to agricultural use after the end of the First World War until the RAF expansion in the 1930’s saw RAF Hemswell established.
Known as Hemswell Court today, this building began life as the Officers Mess and during the 2nd World War was an integral part of RAF Hemswell which was home to numerous squadrons including Avro Lancaster, Avro Lincoln & Mosquito de Havilland. The site was also home to many airmen and women from across Europe. Following the end of the II World War the site continued to operate as an RAF airfield with the grounds being used in the 1955 film ‘The Dam Busters’. In 1974 the site was de-commissioned and sold privately in the early 1980’s undergoing many different uses including the now well known Hemswell Cliff Antiques Centre.
Across the road the Officers Mess underwent its own transformation opening first as a hotel, then as a private home for a short period of time then back to a hotel lovingly managed by MD Shaun Lees who is also the head chef and wedding coordinator. This incredible venue achieved listed building status as Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest: it has a fine neo-Georgian composition with carefully judged proportions and good quality building materials;
Interior: the interior treatment displays the spatial quality and understated refinement typical of the neo-Georgian idiom;
Degree of survival: the layout, fixtures and fittings of the reception rooms in the central range survive with a high degree of intactness, and overall the external composition and configuration remains close to its original form;
Historic interest: it is a well-preserved example of its type, that encapsulates the aims of the post-1934 Expansion Period in the lead up to World War II. It was home to two of the squadrons that were involved in the earliest action of the war, and featured prominently in the acclaimed 1954 film The Dam Busters;
Context: it retains its immediate contemporary setting, character and relationship to other buildings, including the carefully designed layout of the tree-lined approach road and the green around which the Officers’ housing is arranged.
What more could you want from your wedding venue than stunning surroundings combined with such a rich heritage?
‘The idea for the photo shoot really came about because I wanted to recognise the journey this venue has been on during its life adapting to changes and to celebrate and pay homage to the people involved in ensuring this incredible place continues to thrive. The ethos of Bridal Reloved Caistor is all about reuse, recycle, upcycle and supporting brides and grooms to achieve their wedding vision without compromising on quality, choice or style. This shoot seemed like a great way to celebrate some of the incredible heritage we have in Lincolnshire and how Hemswell Court has not only survived but thrived and become a much loved and much sought after venue in the county now recognised as Lincolnshire’s premier 5 star wedding, banqueting and conference venue.
The first step was to seek out a photographer who could capture the essence of what we were trying to do and tell the story of this unique wedding venue. I was immediately taken with Gary’s style and was totally convinced he ‘got it’ not just because of his enthusiasm for the shoot and what we wanted to achieve, but also he is such a nice guy with a fabulous ‘person centred care’ approach to everyone he meets. I knew we were in safe hands as soon as we met.
It was then time to bring in a wedding and event planner, I know how valuable this can be to organise and coordinate the shoot and keep us all on track, so Jayne joined our fledgling crew.
An initial meeting with Shaun went well, although by his own admission Hemswell does very well with weddings so he was intrigued as to what we could bring that was different. With Shaun convinced we were keen to respect his much loved venue, and create something that would reflect its character the search was on for likeminded and passionate suppliers and volunteers to bring a vision to life that reflects the heritage and unique character of this incredible venue and I think these guys really pulled it out of the bag.
We were very blessed to have Laura in charge of venue décor, dressing the rooms and large fireplaces in breath taking style and just wait until you see the swing. Natalie kept the makeup subtle, fresh and natural for each bride perfectly complementing the theme, with Jess creating hairstyles for both ladies that suited the exquisite hair pieces lovingly created by Katy. Rich silk flower bouquets were provided by Sarah, a perfect choice for the venue and looked so good with the dresses. The amazing cake was provided by Carol, and it was so hard not to tuck into it on the day.
Our very polished groom Lee was dressed beautifully from head to toe by Darren and Rachel, and Reuben was just amazing on his first photo shoot and so polished for just 6 years old. And our absolutely gorgeous ladies Amy and Tiana graced their gorgeous designer gowns with style and elegance on their first photo shoot.
The day of the shoot presented some small challenges such as absolutely torrential rain of biblical proportions scuppering our chances of exploring the glorious gardens and our Makeover Fairy having to escape from the bathroom through a window when the door lock decided not to cooperate, shame we didn’t get that one on camera. But, as all good collaborations do we soldiered on through it, after all you don’t cancel your wedding because it’s raining. As the dusk fell, we did make it outside for Gary’s swing shots, he had been wanting to capture this all day so we braved the softly falling rain and sheltered under the magnificent Weeping Willow for what I think are some spectacular shots to end the day.
These days are always amazing to be a part of and to see these incredible Lincolnshire wedding suppliers bring their creativity to create something so special in this place that has such heritage for our county is truly humbling and I am eternally grateful for what they did on this day’.
Shaun Lees www.hemswellcourt.co.uk
Wedding dresses & veils
Gill Austin www.bridalreloved.co.uk
Bridal Reloved Caistor
Wedding & Event Planning
Jayne Thomas www.amouroccasions.co.uk
Gary Anderson www.gjaphotography.com
Make up Artist
Natalie George www.themakeoverfairy.co.uk
Jess Tatum www.short-curlys.co.uk
Katy Moxon www.evierosebridalvines.co.uk
Rebeca & Darren Comerford www.fallenhero.com
Sarah Clay www.indigoblooms.co.uk
Laura Bellamy www.blushvenuedecor.com
Carol Dixon www.celebrationcakesbycarol.co.uk
Amy Pickering, Tiana Birkett,
Lee Barnard, Reuben Comerford