The Pilgrims Rest in Battle, East Sussex opened as a wedding venue in 2016. I’d lusted over beautiful photos of the ancient timber-framed building, and featured them in the magazine and on the blog. You can see their feature in our current issue on pages 46-47 and take a look at this beautiful styled shoot we featured on the blog back in February. I hadn’t had an opportunity to visit so when I heard they were having an open day at the beginning of October I planned my weekend around it.
Above photos (left and middle): Georgina Piper Photography
My granny lives in Eastbourne so I stayed overnight with her and on the Sunday morning we made our way to Battle. It was a glorious sunny day and Battle is the most picturesque, quintessentially British little town (north of Hastings and Bexhill). The Pilgrims Rest is situated right in the middle of town amongst the quaint shops and tearooms and it’s right next door to Battle Abbey (which is now a visitor centre operated by English Heritage). The Pilgrims Rest is a 600-year-old Wealden Hall House so, as you can imagine, there’s a real feeling that lots has taken place within the ancient walls! It was (and still is) a calm happy place; a place for pilgrims to rest and eat and drink before they went off on their travels.
Above photos: Georgina Piper Photography.
The building was presented beautifully; cosy fires lit, sheepskin rugs laid out on wooden benches (set up in ceremony style), candles flickering on each crocked dark wood step. The long tables in the dining room were fully laid and looked beautiful with lanterns and dried hydrangeas in old crystal decanters.
I left granny downstairs when Amy took me to see the bridal suite upstairs (I don’t think her frail 93 year old legs would have made it). I could really imagine how lovely it would be for the bridal party to get ready in there; beautiful, glamorous antique furniture, a small kitchenette with fridge for chilling Champagne, a bathroom and a brilliant view out of the picturesque window, directly over the entrance so you can see your guests as they arrive in all their finery.
Above photos: Sarah Williams Photography
Downstairs there’s also a bar area. The bar is currently operated on a dry hire basis meaning you can provide your own drinks. Amy explained it’s often operated by the catering company. Although the venue can suggest suppliers who’ve worked there before, couples aren’t tied to any specific companies.
I was going to say it’s a blank canvas but it’s not really, the wood and the beams make it so beautiful that barely any decoration is needed. It’s just a brilliant base for a small wedding, ideal for 60 or less.
Above photos: Sarah Williams Photography.
When the ceremony is over and everyone’s eating, the ceremony benches are cleared to make way for the evening party. I was really struck by how well everything had been thought out and I asked Amy how it came to be a wedding venue. She explained that over the years it had been used as residential premises but more recently as a restaurant. Due to demand, owner Becs was making plans to convert it into a wedding venue when she met Amy (through a fluke meeting involving a horse and a farrier!) and they’ve worked together on the project ever since.
It’s such a beautiful venue, either in the summer for drinks and canapes in the beautiful courtyard garden, or in the winter with fires lit and mulled wine served from the bar. I literally cannot fault it. I’m in love!