Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Unique English Wedding Venues Features Island Hall for its FIRST article!

April 8, 2014

Have you ever discovered a place that you just can’t help but fall in love with? Well, that’s how it was for me with Island Hall.

Island Hall lies in the heart of old Godmanchester on the main thoroughfare, Post Street, just a few minutes walk from the parish church of St Mary the Virgin. Its position by the Great Ouse and views over the water meadows very much give it the atmosphere of a classic English country house. The property is the privately owned and much loved family home of Christopher and Lady Linda Vane Percy. Its uniqueness as a wedding venue lies in the fact that this graceful home only hosts a handful of bespoke weddings a year and offers an intimate splendour as it becomes exclusively yours for the duration of your wedding day, if you so wish.

Upon my request to visit Island Hall and interview Christopher Vane Percy I received a very kind and gracious reply. In fact, I was also invited to meet his elder daughter, Grace, who runs the weddings with her father.

Grace and Christopher make the perfect hosts and are incredibly kind and charming, caring deeply about Island Hall and the heritage bestowed upon them. They are also very focussed on the practical side of things, leaving the bride and groom to enjoy their day amongst friends and family.

in December 2013, a Civil License was granted for three rooms: the Stone Flagged Hall and Drawing Room on the ground floor and the maroon velvet lined Salon on the first floor. In addition, I should mention that the first floor also has a beautiful four poster bedroom suite that would make any bride feel like a princess, as she dresses for her big day.

It is difficult to put into words the beauty and serenity of Island Hall. Although I visited it at the beginning of March and the gardens still had a sleepy winter feel about them, you could nonetheless imagine how beautiful it would be in summer when everything is flushed with colour and in full leaf. I could also sense how the Chinese-style bridge and secluded Saxon island would became almost a secret garden and the perfect backdrop for some extraordinary wedding photographs. On the days leading up to your wedding Christopher and Grace are there to help coordinate with suppliers with regard to deliveries, storage and set up, and remain discreetly on hand throughout your wedding day to ensure everything runs smoothly. Two fully S.I.A. licensed security guards are also in attendance throughout your day. Christopher and Grace are exceedingly charming people and take enormous pride in Island Hall and how special it is as a unique wedding venue. I know from my meeting with them that they will do everything in their power to ensure your wedding day is unforgettable and that you and your guests enjoy the splendours of Island Hall and its gardens.

Alice Barker

The Great GMC Flood of October 1880

March 12, 2014

A letter from Charles Astry Octavius Baumgartner to his eldest brother John Percy Baumgartner

J Percy Baumgartner Esq.
Gorleston, Gt Yarmouth

11th Oct./80

My dear Percy

Thanks for your note of 9th inst. I wish you could have come while I was here.
The flood has been something to remember, – covering the road from the Vicarage to Bester’s shop & Church Lane, and running down past E. Maule’s to the road between the Bull Inn & what used to be Capt, Molyneux’s house.

The sailing on Port Holme on Saturday was absolute perfection. I feel, now, that I have not lived in vain. Life is not a hollow mockery. The gale, N.E. , was just as strong as the ”Iona” could stagger under without upsetting. The only other boat out (a Bevan’s canoe) was capsized at the first attempt to go about. and I had to keep my own weather eye considerably open, to avoid sharing the same fate. I wanted you much to share the perils of a cruise in the ”Yarra” with one. I would have been too much for a single hand. I sailed clean over the highest part o ‘Goose Island’, – not, however without scrapping the ground with my keel; the water having then subsided 3 inches. The wind being almost exactly against the stream, I could go to any part of the Holm at pleasure, – which a canoe cannot do with the wind in any other quarter. – My river gauge marked just 7 feet. The September flood, high enough in all conscience, was only 6ft 9in.

Cambridge St, & West Street, and others, were flooded also: but I did not explore those regions beyond the ‘Causeway”. The water came up as far as the cedar on our lawn, and was in all E. Maule’s gardens & yard, &even in the house, at the back. Even the September flood, I went in my canoe over his embankment & tennis lawn to call on Mrs Maule; but this flood has been far worse. There is also far more water to be seen from the Eastern windows of these houses than I ever saw before, – all over ”The Parks” and Mr Brawn’s and the Vicarage land. Another indication of the height of the flood is, that it is over the sill of the Island Boat-house windows.
The Locks were almost indistinguishable, save for the upper wood & iron work of the gates, & the footbridge leading from water to water only! The flood-gates were open; but scarce any stream was perceptible, the lower level nearly the same as the upper. The flood is lower now, but it is still what in other years would be called unusually high one.

I am arranging to leave Godmanchester on Thursday. I am much obliged for your invite. I have a prior one for Burys Court but I cannot accept even that (if at all) until I have been to Invermark first. There will be some carpenters’ work of alterations, &some painting & c., and a lot of carpets & cornices & things ordered in July, to be looked after; and I must be on the spot at the first at all events. I hope you will come & see the new place some day when it is properly ‘’fixed’’. Please give my love to Elsie with thanks for her letters. I am very sorry she is ill again. This intended to be almost as much for her as for you. I cannot write more, 4 ½ a.m. Love to all at home.
Your affectionate brother,


You & Your Wedding: Love Island

February 24, 2014

Island Hall Luxury Wedding

Elegant styling and beautiful blooms made Nancy and Lee’s Garden Party one to remember.

For Nancy and Lee, a potential disaster ultimately led to them having the day of their dreams. “Six month the wedding, our original venue cancelled on us,” explains Nancy. Running out of time and inspiration the couple turned to wedding planner Colette Bloom, who came up with Island Hall in Godmanchester, a riverside mansion complete with ornamental island. After the ceremony in a local church, guest were greeted with prosecco in Island Hall’s immaculate gardens, before everyone was guided across the picturesque Chinese bridge to the river island. “The stunning marquee was waiting behind the tress” says Nancy. “The Island felt like a secret garden, it was so magical”.

Pink and white paper globes and glowing lanterns covered the venue, echoing the soft, pretty tones in Nancy’s classic lace and tulle Pronovias dress, which she paired with rosey-hued peep-toe slingbacks. “I never thought I’d fall in love with a traditional gown but, on reflection, my everyday dress style is classic and tailored, so it was actually very fitting,” she says. “I went for a cathedral veil that match the lace in my dress because I loved the veils intricate details, and the overall effect was so elegant.” Pearl and diamond earrings finished the look, with a bouquet of hydrangeas, peonies and roses in shades of prink and cream. The bridesmaids wore bespoke dresses in a floral liberty print. “The garden theme kept the day elegant but relaxed” says Nancy, whose cute details included a taxi transformed into a photo booth, with resulting pictures providing the favours. “Grace and Christopher were very focused on the practical side of things, which was great because it allowed us to concentrate on the fun!!”

Charity Garden Open Days 2014

February 24, 2014

Sunday 1st June National Garden Scheme

11.00am – 5.00pm charity entrance fee 4.00 pounds (accompanied children free).

Island Hall is one of the fifty ‘Treasures’ from the schemes gardens to be showcased in The Gardens of England.

The book is a celebration of more than eighty years of Garden visiting through the National Gardens Scheme. “This selection of the best gardens, represent of all styles, both public and private that participate in the scheme.”

Island Hall, which celebrates 20 years of opening under the scheme, is the home of Christopher and Lady Linda Vane Percy, Christopher, a past president of the British Institute of Interior design, and Regional Chairman of The Historic Houses Association, started to plan and lay out the gardens at Island Hall in the early 80’, having reclaimed is his ancestral home in 1983

Please see the National Garden Scheme Website for details.

Sunday 13th July Red Cross Garden Opening & Courtyard Craft Market

11.00am – 4.00pm garden charity entrance fee 4.00 pounds (accompanied children free). CRAFT MARKET FREE!


January 7, 2014

These are scheduled tours for small groups (groups of under sixteen) or individuals, that you can join, with like minded people to view the house and gardens guided by a member of the family. Included in your admission is homemade tea and cake 17.50 pounds per head.

Island Hall Tours
Join award-winning interior designer, owner Christopher Vane Percy for an intimate afternoon tour. Listen to the intriguing stories of Island Hall’s history and tales of its residents past and present, then enjoy a delicious full homemade tea with fresh, finger sandwiches and a slice of fresh Victoria Sponge.

Teas at Island Hall




Saturday 26th 2.30pm


Tuesday 17th 2.30pm

Wednesday 23rd 2.30pm


Tuesday 5th 2.30pm

Wednesday 20th 2.30pm


Thursday 13th 3.00pm *Special Candlelit Tour

Saturday 22nd 3.00pm *Special Candlelit Tour


Wednesday 10th 3.00pm *Special Festive Victorian Christmas Candlelit Tour

*Special Candlelit Tours are a magical opportunity to experience Island Hall’s lovingly restored Georgian rooms by glittering candlelight. Join award-winning interior designer, owner Christopher Vane Percy for an atmospheric afternoon tour. Listen to the intriguing stories of Island Hall’s history and tales of its residents past and present, then enjoy a delicious full homemade tea with fresh, finger sandwiches and a slice of rich, festive cake.

Island Hall Is Now An Officially Approved Ceremony Venue!

December 19, 2013


We have just received our license to hold civil weddings at Island Hall. We can now offer ceremonies for up to 80 guests in the main hall or more intimate ceremonies for smaller numbers in two other rooms within the house. Will you be the first to be married at Island Hall?

Inside Island Hall

Ormiston Children and Families Trust Christmas Charity Carol Concert on Friday 13th December 2013, 7.30pm to 9.30pm

November 15, 2013

Island Hall in the snow

Please join us for our annual Christmas charity carol concert, which this year is in aid of Ormiston Children and Families Trust:

Lady Linda Vane Percy

Requests the pleasure of your company for
An evening of carols at Island Hall
Performed by Tapestry
Friday, 13th December 2013, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
In aid of Ormiston Children and Families Trust

Tickets £25 each – Including refreshments.
Numbers are limited
Lounge Suits

R.S.V.P using the form provided to:
Josie Barwick, Ormiston Children & Families Trust, 333 Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9BU
Tel: 01473 705030 / Email:


Tapestry Choir performing at Island Hall

Last year Ormiston Children and Families Trust helped over 130,000 children and families through difficult and challenging times in their lives. They work across the East of England supporting children, young people and families who for many reasons are in disadvantaged circumstances. They currently have over 40 services across East Anglia, including Children Centres, visiting support services in prisons, Family Intervention Projects, gypsy and traveller initiatives and parenting support programmes.

It costs Ormiston Children & Families Trust £18,000 to support a single family participating in our Family Intervention Project. The long term benefits of this project is estimated savings of between £70,000 and £150,000 to other agencies such as social services, police, the justice system, local health authorities, schools and housing. The outcome of this project also has an enormous impact on the community.

Ormiston have been reliant on funding from local government, trusts and grants for the past 30 years but hope to build on their independent funding so they can continue and expand their services without being restricted.

I do hope you will be able to support us again this year for what will be a very special evening. Tapestry will return to perform a full programme of carols and readings.

Yours sincerely,

Linda Vane Percy

Island Hall Christmas Tree

Special Festive Victorian Christmas Candlelit Tours!

November 15, 2013

Island Hall - snow bridge crop

Come and See Island Hall!
Remaining Special Candlelit Tours

Saturday 23nd 3.00pm Candlelit Tour

Tuesday 10th 3.00pm *Special Festive Victorian Christmas Candlelit Tour
Thursday 12th 3.00pm *Special Festive Victorian Christmas Candlelit Tour

A magical opportunity to experience Island Hall’s lovingly restored Georgian rooms by glittering candlelight. Join award-winning interior designer, owner Christopher Vane Percy for an atmospheric afternoon tour. Listen to the intriguing stories of Island Hall’s history and tales of its residents past and present, then enjoy a delicious full homemade tea with fresh finger sandwiches and a slice of rich, festive cake.

Candelit Tours Island Hall Cambridgeshire

Island Hall is a family run private home situated in the centre of Godmanchester on the banks of the river Great Ouse, visiting is easy by road, just 2ominutes from Cambridge on the A14.
Join like minded people to view the house. Included in your £17.50 per head admission is your tea.
Named after ornamental island on the Great Ouse, this charming C18 house is owned by an award-winning interior designer. Georgian rooms with fine detail and possessions linked to owners’ ancestors since 1800. Described by Octavia Hill as ‘the loveliest, dearest house….’ Tranquil riverside setting.
Tour 2 1/2 – 3 hours, £17.50 including full afternoon tea with sandwiches and cake.

Book directly with Invitation to View via The Mercury Theatre online or telephone 01206 573948

Island Hall at Christmas

Mr. Knight’s Cuma Vase 1846

October 20, 2013

An extract from a letter to Percy Baumgartner from his father Dr John Baumgartner describing the discovery of the missing handle belonging to vase purchased 20 years earlier by his father-in-law (Mr Samuel Knight) from Mr. O’Reilly, Surgeon and Apothecary (Naples) which originated from either Herculaneum or Pompeii

Villa Cappella, June 25 1846
Piano de Sorento

My dear Percy, we were delighted yesterday when the Boatman brought your letter. There is a Post Office at Sorrento, nearly 3 miles off, and we find it more convenient to send by the boat, which goes every morning except feast days to Naples. It began to be rather warm there, so when the month for which we had engaged our apartment in the Riviera di Chiaia was up we came here, now a week ago.
With yours came another letter directed in a most legible hand, Signor Giuseppe Baumgartner Oculist et Orecchista, Venice: now tho the designation did not correspond it seemed possible as we had lost a letter directed for us at Venice, it might be enclosed under Cover directed by some Post Office clerk: but no; on opening it there appeared a long german Epistle describing no doubt the ailments of some unfortunate Wight, which we hastily closed and returned by Bearer; happy if we recover the 7 carlins. postage. But this unlucky coincidence of Name has beyond a doubt been as prejudicial to us as to the said Signor Guiseppe; causing the loss of correspondence. We are lodged at Naples No. 263, next door to Mr. O’Reilly, Surgeon and Apothecary; who was the means of procuring for Mr. Knight the Cuma Vase, which he presented to the museum at Cambridge. It was tolerably perfect except one of the handles, (ansa) which was broken off. This had been replaced by one of metal, painted to imitate the original glass, but either by accident or from being too heavy, it had also been knocked off.

Singular enough the moment I mentioned Mr. K’s name, Mr. O’R, recollected the vase and produced the anse, which he said had been subsequently found and brought to him; he gave it me, and it will add something to the Interest of the already very curious object, that after a lapse of 19 or 20 years, the piece missing should have been recovered. Mr. O’R. is a bit of a Virtuoso and possesses a small collection of curiosities: this suggests a suspicion that he was the first purchaser; be that as it may, the value of said Vase is indubitable, for in all the Cabinets we have visited, there is nothing like it to be seen, and one may venture to believe it unique.

Let me not put off to the end of my letter, lest you should think it the last in importance, or in our estimation, the hope of seeing you here. I have hired for 3 months; we have room and to spare; the situation very pleasant about a mile from the Sea, of which we have a limited view, and about an equal distance from the top of the Jugum Montis, from which there is a fine prospect of the Gulf of Salerno. At Ramety we were on the morraine of an avalanche of Rocks, which buried Main, a roman Colony, Meran did not exist at that time, or it could not have escaped destruction; here at Cavone, we are also on the slope of a mountain on a bed of Volcanic Tufa.

A spur of Calcareous rocks, from the apennine Chain is projected into the sea, and from the separation between the Bays of Naples and Salerno, both of which have been formed by the same irresistible power which has upheaved Vesuvius, Capri, Ischia etc. an explosive effort has cut the chain in two, the crater is partly visible on the amalfi side, marked by some rocks standing out of the water, and the circular form given to that portion of the Mountain against which the force was expended; its substance calcined and swept away to be replaced by lava and tufa to about half its former height. The whole Piano, as it is called; a plain sloping away to the bay of Naples, is in fact a mass of volcanic matter intersected by deep ravines, which under the shelter of the primary rocks and the hot sun of this southern latittude, is the most fertile spot imaginable: it is indeed a little Paradise.

Our garden presents a wild mixture of orange, lemon, olive, fig, peach, walnut and other Trees amongst which the Vine shoots out its wild flaunting tendrils to give support to the heavy clusters with which its branches are loaded there must be abundance of mulberries somewhere to feed the myriads of silkworms they raise. The principal occupation is the preparation of silk and the manufactory of silk goods, a trade very much in the hands of some french merchants at Naples; next to that is the traffick in oranges and lemons which are shipped in great quantities. If Sam were at all inclined to reform he might find here useful and profitable Employment by making himself acquainted with the Silk Trade, which has made so many great houses in London . Living is excessively cheap for whoever wills to live economically.

An Island Wedding – Bride Magazine

September 20, 2013

Tai Tuwai and Karen Riggall 27th July 2013

Where: Ceremony at St Mary Magdalene Church, Brampton, Cambridgeshire followed by reception at Island Hall, Godmanchester

Photography: McKinley-Rodgers Photography

Inside Island Hall

“Island Hall was the first and only wedding venue we visited. Despite being very cold and there being snow on the ground, we fell in love with it straight away. It was perfect and so close to home, the house was beautiful and the Island was the blank canvas that we were looking for. For a grand manor house, there was something very homely and comfortable about it and I felt instinctively that our guests would feel comfortable there too. Being Fijian, Tai also loved the idea of having the marquee on an ‘Island’!

Island Hall Front

Christopher Vane Percy owns Island Hall and is one of the funniest and loveliest gentlemen you could meet. We felt very privileged that he opened his gorgeous home to us and our 100 guests.


Initially I had visions of a very vintage affair with bunting and hay bales but it was Island Hall’s eclectic mix of antique furniture and paintings with a dash of Tai’s passion for golf that eventually inspired the theme for the day.

I shopped around for marquees and luckily I came across Nick from Fairytale Marquees who was incredibly helpful, even fitting a vintage style chandelier that I had bought. Nothing seemed too much trouble for him and the marquee looked amazing on the day.

Marquee Island Hall

For my dress I researched local bridal boutiques and found The Bridal Gallery in Finedon. Having looked at their sample sale section on their website I couldn’t get one of the dresses out of my mind. I decided I would regret it if I didn’t try it so convinced my mum and sister to come with me. It was light and floaty and heavily beaded at the back – and with its vintage ivory colouring, it was a really flattering tone and just a little bit different.

Island Hall Wedding

I tried on some other shapes and styles but I felt uncomfortable in most of them and compared everyone to the first, so I emerged just over an hour later the owner of sparkly new wedding dress – a Jenny Packham gown called ‘Gaia’.

Gaia Jenny Packham

On the morning of the wedding I stole one of Tai’s ushers, Ben, to do my hair as he is a hair stylist. He was very patient with me as I kept changing my mind about what I wanted.

Bridal Hair

My make-up was also done by my lovely friend Alison, who I have known for years. It was great to have such close friends to pamper me on the morning and made it so much more special.

I thought I would be petrified walking down the aisle and speaking in front of all our guests but I actually felt very calm and controlled and absolutely loved the ‘I do’s’. We have had lots of complements on our music choices (which were unusual for a church wedding), guests particularly enjoyed our signing of the register track which was ‘All I Want Is You’ from the ‘Juno’ soundtrack. We also had a Fijian hymn sung by Tai’s relatives which was a very special moment during the ceremony.

Wedding Ceremony

Our colours were creams, pastels and metallics and on the tables we had vintage candelabras and trophies that I had collected through the year, filled with flowers we’d bought from Waitrose the day before. Each table was named after one of Tai’s favourite UK golf clubs with the club logo as the table name. Tai managed to get hold of golf balls from each of the clubs with the matching logos as favours for the men which we placed in cotton bags on the corresponding tables. The ladies had truffles.

Bridal Group

Golf Place Setting

Our caterers were the Cambridge Dining Company and we had a barbecue for our wedding breakfast which was exceptional. People are still commenting on the quality of the food served. Also Sam, their wedding event manager, did an amazing job looking after us during the run up to the wedding and on the day, we really cannot praise her enough.

BBQ at Island Hall

Following the meal and speeches we had cocktail hour with ‘make your own Mai Tai cocktails’. Each table had a tray of ingredients and instructions. These were a big hit and probably explain why the dance floor was packed all night!

We were incredibly lucky to have Phil as our DJ for the evening. We met him through a friend; he is not your ‘usual’ wedding DJ. He was epic and we have had so many comments on just how brilliant he was.

For entertainment we had a silver glitter photo booth, with unlimited photos and an array of vintage props, which was so much fun. Guests got to take their photos home and we have second copies in our guestbook.”

by Karen Tuwai


Photography: McKinley-Rodgers Photography,

Venue: Island Hall,

Dress: Jenny Packham,

Bridesmaids dresses: Coast,

Hair: Ben Hall

Make-up: Alison Whately,

Groom’s outfit: Reiss,
Stationery: Tom Gautier,

Flowers: Violets & Velvet,

Catering: Cambridge Dining Company,

Entertainment: Boothnation,

Marquee: Fairytale Marquees,


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