I think I’d fallen in love with Cissbury before I even set eyes on the house.
It was a cold day in February but the sky was a brilliant blue, the sun shone on the sheep that dotted the fields around the long driveway, daffodils and crocuses were poking up from the earth and there was more than a hint of spring in the air. All this added to the feeling of excited anticipation I already had about visiting this new wedding venue that I’d heard so much about.
And then it appeared around the corner: a huge, grand house that made me wish my little Peugeot was a vintage Jaguar, so that I could crunch onto the driveway fittingly. It was a bit like being in a period drama (in a good way) as I knocked on the big blue door and waited…
When the door opened, I was greeted by the lovely Helen, Cissbury’s events manager, and Barley the Golden Retriever, as well as an entrance hall that was both impressive and welcoming at the same time. After a quick fuss of Barley (I’m such a sucker for dogs), Helen showed me into the dramatic red dining room, which can be used for private events or wakes. Hung with historic family portraits and looking out onto an expanse of lush green parkland, it’s a gorgeous setting for either.
The drawing room, just down the hallway, can also be used for either wake or private receptions. With more portraits and views across the front lawns in one direction and up to a little summer house in the other, as well an imposing historic stone fireplace and the option of having the grand piano, I’d personally find it hard to choose which one I’d pick!
The piece de resistance however is the lovingly renovated pair of beautiful, spacious barns on the property – complete with a bar area and a fire pit – which are ideal for weddings. I’ve had the great privilege of conducting many a wedding in the ceremony barn, mingling in the sunshine with guests on the lawn and in the bar before they go in to the beautiful reception barn to feast and to party! The uphill approach to the barns is lined with majestic trees and there are jaw-dropping views across the South Downs National Park, so the photos are always beyond stunning.
And if that’s still not enough choice for you, remember that using an independent celebrant like me means that you can get married anywhere at all – you could choose to have your ceremony in the woodland on the property, or by the quirky octagonal flintwork summerhouse for example. Then you can party with your friends and family in the house or the barns.
The funny thing about Cissbury is that it should feel imposing and starchy but it absolutely doesn’t. It has a friendly, almost eccentric atmosphere – it feels like a happy family home as well as a grand venue. It’s the sort of place that has seen its fair share of muddy boots and loud evenings around the piano; not the sort where you dread touching anything and speak in a whisper. As such, it’s the perfect venue for any big event and I know from experience that you’d be made very welcome.
Oh, and Barley told me to tell you that they are very pet-friendly. So if you want to have your pooch as ringbearer, Cissbury could well be the place for you.
Cissbury is located just north of Worthing in Nepcote, West Sussex. Do have a look at their website and, if it’s just what you’re looking for, call Helen on 01903 899638 to arrange a visit. Their recommended celebrant is very good, I hear… 😉