Grab a glorious country break at the Wilderness Reserve, where luxurious living is the perfect way to wind down.
If you work in the city then you’re bound to have moments when you dream of leaving the hustle and bustle behind and escaping to the country. The Wilderness Reserve is a stunning retreat in Suffolk that offers countless opportunities to switch off.
The “wilderness” is set in an Arcadian landscape of pasture, woods and serpentine lakes imagined by the 18th-century English landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown and is perfect for weddings and weekends away but is also available for other events. We spoke to Daren Haysom, the sales director to find out more.
What’s the history of the house & park?
The Wilderness Reserve project began nearly 20 years ago with the help of eminent landscape architect Kim Wilkie. The result today is a quintessentially English setting for luxury countryside retreats.
The heart of the Wilderness project has been the restoration of three estates that connect across the Blythe and Yox River Valleys. All suffered over the course of the 20th Century and were broken up and forgotten.
Over the last 20 years, alongside the gradual process of piecing back together these historic landscapes, the old park boundaries, lakes and woods have been restored based on historic records; the great houses and estate buildings have been put back into good heart; thousands of trees have been planted, and the landscape brought alive as numerous rare and protected species once again return to this forgotten corner of Suffolk.
How did you go about creating the perfect wilderness?
Wilderness Reserve’s collective 5,000-acre expanse in the Suffolk countryside is a carefully arranged symphony of lakes, wetland, ancient woodland, wild-flower meadows, pastures and manicured gardens. 20 years in the making, it has been designed with the help of eminent landscape architect Kim Wilkie. Guests are free to explore on foot or on one of our Pashley bicycles.
What makes a stay at The Wilderness special?
Luxury private accommodation, 5,000-acres of English nature, and a variety of exceptional dining experiences and outdoors activities. These are the essential elements of a Wilderness Reserve holiday, celebration or romantic escape – all delivered in a way that channels the nostalgia of traditional countryside holidays.
Quite unlike traditional self-catering holiday accommodation, Wilderness Reserve’s properties have exceptionally well-designed interiors, each with their own individual decor and character. Splashes of contemporary colour in the soft furnishings marry elegantly with the natural materials of the buildings: oak frames, decorative lime pargetting and long-straw thatch.
If we wanted to host a corporate retreat, what would the experience be?
Both Sibton Park and Chapel Barn Estate hit a high note when booked on an exclusive-use basis, be that for a reunion or friends and family, a wedding or a commercial event. Both properties can comfortably accommodate up to 90 overnight guests across its various properties. The largest at Sibton Park is, of course, its manor house with 14 beautifully appointed bedrooms.
Elsewhere, there’s Chapel Barn on Chapel Barn estate, which will accommodate 42 guests, with 18 beds. Children love the grain silo conversion which houses a spiral of bunk beds. Floor-to-ceiling Crittall windows lead out onto an enclosed outdoor space, perfect for large family gatherings, weddings and corporate events.
How do you offer guests a taste of rural life?
Led by our expert head ranger Paul “Chuck” Norris, our experienced team of outdoor activity specialists are driven to add excitement, camaraderie and a playful sense of competition to your Wilderness getaway. Picture stand-up paddleboarding on the lake, clay-pigeon shooting in the fields or an axe-throwing activity set up immediately outside your luxury Suffolk cottage.
Off-grid Hex cottage is the ultimate switch-off bolt hole. Set on the edge of a woodland and meadow with no electricity, it is candle lit and heated by the Esse wood burning stove.
What does a wedding at the Wilderness look like?
It is a cliché to say it but there are genuinely no two weddings the same at Wilderness Reserve – and that’s the way we like it.
Guests can be greeted with a grade II Listed Georgian manor house at Sibton Park or the restored 15th century farmstead at Chapel Barn and 5000 acres of perfect Suffolk parkland complete with secluded woods, expansive lakes and an intimate walled garden, the choices for where to hold your special day are almost endless.
Divided across Sibton Park and Chapel Barn estates, Wilderness Reserve’s exclusive Suffolk wedding venues range from a grade II-listed Georgian manor house (Sibton Park), complete with its light-filled Orangery, to a sensitively restored 15th-century farmstead (Chapel Barn), designed to host those looking for a glorious barn wedding venue.
Elsewhere, an array of outdoor wedding venues include woodland, lakeside and garden settings. Punctuating the fields between are a host of luxury Suffolk farmhouses and cottages – not to mention a show-stopping Walled Garden property. In all, we can accommodate almost a range of guest numbers, with space for 200 staying the night.
How important is sustainability to the Wilderness ethos?
Very; we have worked hard to build the natural environment across the estates – planting thousands of trees and installing thousands of bird boxes. Designing the houses and estates in harmony with that environment. Its part of everything we do.
Do you have a favourite place on the estate?
All of the properties are favourites – the look and feel of the estate varies throughout the season but the woodland fire feast setting is a strong contender this time of year.
To find out more about events and venue hire at The Wilderness visit their website or follow them on Instagram.
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