Couple first to say I do at historic hall

The first couple to wed at Newton Hall, Melanie Dickinson and John Humphreys.
The first couple to wed at Newton Hall, Melanie Dickinson and John Humphreys.

ONE of Northumberland’s great historic mansions has hosted its first wedding, following a year-long multi-million pound restoration and refurbishment project.

The Grade-II listed Georgian manor house and estate is now one of the largest wedding venues in the North East and the only destination offering ceremonies on a purpose-built Wedding Hill, a unique indoor/outdoor wedding terrace with retractable roof and receptions on the beach.

It has brought 20 jobs to the area and is still recruiting more staff and has 95 weddings booked into 2015, including some well-known names from the world of celebrity and sport.

The first couple to wed at Newton Hall, Melanie Dickinson, 28, and John Humphreys, 29, said their vows in front of 140 friends and family in the hall’s new contemporary extension, the Garden Suite.

Sticking to tradition, Mel’s father Joe Dickinson gave her away, and John didn’t get to see the dress until Mel walked up the aisle accompanied by her five bridesmaids.

Mel, originally from Kent, said: “Although we both live in London now we met at Newcastle University six years ago, and I lived in Newcastle for ten years before recently relocating to London.

“We wanted to get married somewhere on the Northumberland coast because one of our favourite walks is along from Dunstanburgh Castle – the coastline’s just beautiful.”

Mel added: “We looked at several venues in the area, but Newton Hall really stood out as somewhere that was special and different, rather than the typically bland ceremony rooms we’ve seen.

“And it was the only place we saw that could hold 140 guests for the service. I didn’t mind not seeing the finished venue before the wedding, because I love the other venues in the group such as As You Like It, so I was confident it would be amazing, but the finished product exceeded all our expectations!

“The wedding was just amazing, it was truly the best day of our lives. The staff were fantastic and organised everything for me. The whole weekend felt so personal and relaxed, the venue itself was beautiful, and being able to stay all weekend made it extra special – we had beach walks and fish and chips at the hall’s own pub the Joiner’s Arms on the Sunday, and played lawn games all weekend - when it wasn’t raining!”

The hall is owned by the award-winning Apartment Group, the organisation behind some of Newcastle’s most iconic venues including As You Like It – The Observer’s 7th Sexiest Restaurant in the World.

But even Apartment Group owner Duncan Fisher was surprised at the level of bookings. “Newton Hall is a bold and innovative addition to the North East, the like of which has never been seen before in the north of England, but even we are surprised by the volume of pre-launch wedding bookings and membership applications,” he said.

“I’m delighted to bring jobs to the area and breathe new life into this historic hall. It’s a gem of the British Isles, and is now at last being recognised as such internationally.”

Newton Hall will also operate as a hotel and members’ club, but weddings are its priority and the owners predict most parties will book the whole estate for long weekends.