Our Story

Challenging but very exciting times for owners Gary and Claire

We met in 2016 and in January 2017, Gary popped the question by getting down on one knee and asking me to marry him! I said yes and we were both thrilled and elated so we soon began to discuss where and when our wedding would take place…………It was at that point that the very exciting idea was born to buy a venue and get married in it. We began looking.

Gary had to go back abroad to continue working for a while and I began the search to start looking at a business for us to buy in Gary’s home county of Norfolk.

I loved my job as a wedding hair and makeup artist which I have done for many years in and around Brighton, Sussex and London. Having worked in numerous hotels, country houses and barns and growing my business (Claire Wallace Hairdressing) with a large team of freelance hair and makeup professionals, I knew only too well that one of the things that many of the more unusual wedding venues were missing, were rooms for the bridal party and family to stay in.

Gary and Claire both agreed that it would be a wonderful idea for Claire to bring her wedding hair and make-up skills and Gary to bring his managerial, business and practical skills together in a unique way.

After visiting several venues, I finally came across the quirky and impressive set of buildings, called “Cliff Barns”. Previously owned by the renowned interior designer Shaun Clarkson and T.V set designer Russel Hall, the pair had created an eclectic vision based on a ranch and Mexican hacienda theme. With a beautiful courtyard and fountain, this hidden gem in the heart of the Breckland countryside just felt right to be our place. Yes I was soon on skype to Gary and before long he was over and viewing it too. Soon after, Gary left his job abroad and was back home in the UK. It took nearly a year for the purchase to go through and on the 10th of August 2018 we became the proud new owners.
The challenge was now on, picking the business up and running with it whilst taking it on at a very busy time of year.

We have our own wonderful vision and strong ideas for the future. The first major change was to re-name the venue to “Ash Tree Barns”. This was inspired by the fabulous young ash trees that line the curved driveway. This was resolute when a list of potential names went out to friends and Ash Tree Barns came out as the most desirable choice amongst them all.

We intend to keep the quirkiness of the barns but also bring a sophisticated, contemporary simplicity. One of the buildings is now newly decorated in a gorgeous slate green colour with some of the soft furnishings suggesting a theme of vibrant teal, creating a relaxing ambience. There are some beautiful additional changes made to enhance the front and inside of the buildings. With an eye-catching vaulted barn style porch at the front with supporting oak pillars and one of the barns having a plastered white ceiling, the rustic look of the beams are still very visible.

Our dream is now reality and apart from offering an amazing, exciting venue to anyone who may want to book it for a wedding, hen party, holiday, birthday celebration, or corporate event, of course the big question is, when are they going to have their own wedding?
Watch this space!

Claire & Gary

Gary Archdale and Claire Wallace, Ash Tree Barns owners, Norfolk