LEEZ PRIORY HISTORY
You could do plenty worse than marrying your best friend here at Leez Priory, which is in fact a 16th century mansion based in Chelmsford in the county of Essex. In 1220 Sir Ralph Germon had a bold idea to build a monastery in this very location which actually thrived for over three centuries.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1541), ordered by none other than King Henry VIII, was the start of a more familiar setting for the site. When Sir Richard Rich became the Earl of Warwick, he swiftly made plans to construct his own premises on the land that we’ve all come to know and love as Leez Priory.
You can still see the historical structures of yesteryear around the grounds today with its old garden walls and beautiful ponds. It’s well worth exploring the Grade I listed building if you get the chance. You’d be in good company too because even the likes of Queen Elizabeth I have graced this Essex Venue.
Fast forward 200 years and much of the site was unfortunately in disrepair. Leez Priory had changed hands again, and this time it was purchased by Guy’s Hospital, London whom remained the official owners right up until 1910.
There was a period of private residency for a part of the 20th Century until 1995 when the venue became the very first country house to legally undertake civil ceremonies. So, with a rich, historical background & many centuries of change, Essex is proud to call Leez Priory wedding venue its own.
PLACES TO STAY NEAR LEEZ PRIORY
First off, couples who book this venue for their big day can reserve rooms for some of their wedding guests on site. There are 2 family lodges, 2 main house bedrooms, a private cottage, plus 20 bedrooms in the courtyard (away from the main house).
Still need accommodation close by to enjoy the celebrations properly? Here are 3 of my suggestions:
The Compasses Inn has the advantage of being one of THE closest places to stay (being only 0.8 miles away). You could actually walk it if you’re feeling fit as it’s 22 minutes on foot. Visitors rate this pub, full of traditional charm as ‘Exceptional’ and offers 5 nicely kept guest-rooms in family friendly surroundings.
Laurels is highly rated and perfect for couples who don’t want to be too far from the action. In fact, Laurels is just 2 miles away and regularly takes in wedding guests from Leez Priory. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom and a continental or full English breakfast is provided every morning. Take a look. I think you’ll fall in love!
Blatches Farm Is rated ‘Superb’ by its customers and has 8 smoke free rooms available. This farm is just 5.6 miles from the popular Chelmsford wedding venue, plus it offers its guests free WIFI and parking. Check them out.
LEEZ PRIORY WEDDING VENUE
I’ve got to say that I personally love going back here every year. There is so much potential & no two weddings are ever the same. My day often starts at the private cottage to the left of the main building and just behind a stunning lake. Most brides choose to spend the night here with the bridesmaids so there’s no rushing in the morning.
You can’t actually go over to the main house until a certain time, so much of the hair and makeup takes place in the cottage. Everything is then taken over to the bridal quarters upstairs once it becomes available. There are a couple of rooms for you and your party to use while you apply the finishing touches upstairs in the main house. I’ve photographed in 3 different rooms all joined together along the landing so there’s plenty of space.
No-one else is allowed up those stairs, so that area is strictly for the bridal party. I often do the first look with the bride along the landing (close to the window which has views of the iconic tower across the green). Freya & James’ wedding was particularly emotional but I’m not complaining. Every wedding photographer loves it when people shed a tear!
I don’t ask for much at all during this morning session. I love to document what actually takes place. If I do see an opportunity that I think you’ll like, I’ll always suggest it to see what you guys think.
This wedding took place outdoors under the tower in the glorious sunshine. It’s one of the longer walks a bridal party will make for a wedding ceremony in Essex. You come through the huge wooden gates at the main building and head across the grass where you’re greeted by all your guests either side of the tower.
It does seem a tad windy when you’re under the tower but I’m pretty certain you’ll have your mind on other things throughout the proceedings.
Freya (the bride) decided to bring her dog to the wedding which is becoming more and more common believe it or not. I think it’s a lovely touch and the couple chose to walk back down the aisle with their pooch in tow.
One thing you might want to consider for after your ceremony is some entertainment for your guests. Freya and James opted for a magician and lawn games which was a good choice for both kids and adults. There’s plenty of space at Leez Priory so you can go crazy if you wish.
I took the couple away for about 15 minutes while the guests enjoyed a drink & bathed in the sunshine.
Now, I don’t like to over think things and I certainly don’t want things to look overly posy. We opted for a glass of champagne in a beautiful section of the gardens, a nice walk close to the lake and a romantic moment in the piano room. I much prefer it when couples are themselves. You get to see the real personalities come through which results in a more natural look to the photographs.
So, with drinks, canapés & entertainment coming to a close, the guests made their way out of the main house and up towards the car park for the wedding breakfast. This room is always immaculate and so well dressed every time I’m here. Today didn’t disappoint either. The groom’s dad gave a heart-felt speech to the couple and the best man tried to give the groom (an Arsenal supporter) a Watford top which wasn’t greeted with too much excitement. The bride loved the idea though!
From then onwards, Leez priory became party central. This crowd knew how to have a good time and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of it.
My time at Leez Priory wedding venue, Chelmsford had come to an end. Thankfully, it won’t be long until I get to go back several times in 2020. If you’ve enjoyed this source of inspiration and like my approach to weddings, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a message HERE or call 07746134504 for a quick chat (no obligation to book of course).
Until next time guys,
Thanks for reading