Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Thirty seven years and counting...

Rose Kendell
Apparently the average person changes jobs eleven times during his or her career* so Holdsworth House's kitchen porter, Rosemary Kendell, is definitely an exception as she clocks up 37 years' work at the four star hotel.

In fact Rose began work at the hotel aged sweet sixteen when Holdsworth House (or the Cavalier Country Club as it was known then) was owned by the late Freddie and Rita Pearson. Our Belfast beauty travelled to England aged just fifteen and followed in her mum's footsteps to work at the hotel; Rose's mum Maureen McEvoy also worked as Holdsworth House's kitchen porter! Working to begin with on weekends and evenings Rose finally took over from her mum after 27 years in the job.

Now with four sons and one daughter Rose has fond memories as she continues her long service at Holdsworth House:

"I remember Rita and Freddie Pearson (who bought the hotel in 1953), they were lovely people. After the birth of my son I brought him in to the hotel and Rita and Freddie gave him a new blanket, they were always asking after the children. Then when I had my daughter I worked right up until the day she was born - in fact I had to call in sick the morning I had Laura."
Rita Pearson
Today Holdsworth House is in the safe hands of Rita and Freddie's children, Gail and Kim.

Rose continues; "It's lovely to see the hotel still thriving. We have bigger events more frequently. I've seen the hotel grow and develop with the bedroom extension and bar. Its a lovely team and still a great family to work for."

Rose is fondly known for her gorgeous Irish Gaelic twang, deep loyalty to the hotel and wonderful friendship she offers everyone around her. We all send Rose the very best wishes as she celebrates her long career at Holdsworth House.


Monday, 7 July 2014

10 reasons to hold your wedding at Holdsworth House

The wedding dress aside, choosing your venue might be one of the hardest wedding decisions you make. You might feel you're handing control of your day to a bunch of strangers - how well are they going to perform and live up to your expectations? You need to be confident you've made the best decision.

As one of Yorkshire's most successful wedding venues, here are the top ten reasons brides tell us they choose Holdsworth House:

1) It's somewhere so flexible

"Holdsworth, unlike a lot of places, caters for whatever you want" 30 May 2014

Your wedding day should be completely unique. We don't shoehorn couples into packages that don't suit them. Holdsworth House wedding packages are built from experience, from the average number of guests and using timings that we know work well for guests, registrars and for you to get the most out of your day. But if the package doesn't fit you, we'll tailor one that does.

Being an independent hotel means we can chop and change things to suit you more readily. If you've got some wild and crazy ideas - great, we will help you realise them. If you want a small, intimate celebration - wonderful, it will be very romantic.

You are the customer and you retain control. We can help and advise you at every step of the way. We don't know any other venue offering the same flexibility.

Image-I-Nation Photography
2) Your friends and family will thank you
“My son’s wedding was held at the hotel. The entire stay from beginning to end went without a fault or hitch and the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly." September 2013
Most of our wedding business comes from referrals: couples who feel the urge to share their happy wedding with the world. Holdsworth House is not an off-the-shelf hotel, but if you want somewhere that will stand out and stay with your guests for years to come, this is it.

It's true that many of our Tripadvisor reviews are from brides and grooms, but we also get a heap of comments from guests that celebrate with the wedding party. In a year we welcome around 20,000 wedding guests; you should come in and read our comment book from those who are checking out the morning after the night before. It makes our hearts sing.

John Hope Photography
3) Holdsworth House is a photographer's dream

"The house and grounds are stunning, we couldn't have chosen a more beautiful location" 28 May 2014

Knowing good suppliers is part of what we do. We don't earn commission from any wedding supplier, but we will only recommend companies that we know have delivered great results in the past. But when a supplier recommends us back, that's a lovely compliment.

Many photographers for example love shooting weddings here. They love the grounds, the lighting, the quirkiness and character of the building that they can pick out in pictures. Holdsworth House offers photographers something different from bog standard wedding portraits and they can use our hotel like a playground to capture the character of each bride and groom perfectly.

We're used to working with a whole range of wedding companies - florists, cake makers, venue dressers - if they're from Yorkshire, we've probably worked with them! All this experience means we can help them to help you, we see your other suppliers as our customers too so we will make sure they have everything they need to get their job done.

4) Tripadvisor winners again and again

"I've never written a review on Tripadvisor but after one of my best friend's lovely wedding at Holdsworth House, I thought I'd have a go! Just really want to say how great all the staff were and it was such a special day. This is a really beautiful place to stay, I wish we'd had longer than just one night!" April 2014

Everyone knows what Tripadvisor is about. As hoteliers we don't hide from it or pretend it's not there. In fact we embrace all feedback, which is why Holdsworth House has won the Certificate of Excellence for the last four years running.

We respond to all feedback, but most importantly ensure we do everything possible to resolve any issue as it happens, before a guest leaves.  So you can rest assured that things don't get brushed under the carpet nor corners cut - the good thing about Tripadvisor is that there is no place for a venue to hide!

5) Fabulous food
"The food was to die for (totally recommend the pork rillette and Apple crumble)" 7 April 2014
The AA's description for 2 AA Rosettes means: 'Excellent restaurants that aim for and achieve higher standards and better consistency. A greater precision is apparent in the cooking, and there will be obvious attention to the selection of quality ingredients'.

Holdsworth House has won two AA rosettes every year for the last 15 years. Food is sourced locally and beef is hung on site for 28 days to give extra maturity and tenderness. Chef's kitchen is located next to the main function room so food is served hot and fresh.

A fresh banqueting service is nothing to be sniffed at. It means, unlike some venues, meals are prepared fresh without freezing and reheating so that the taste packs a punch and your guests get a restaurant quality meal. Ours is quite the envy of a lot of venue kitchens.

6) 50 years' experience

"All the team were superb but a special thank you to Matthew, Phil and our waitress - she has had lots of practice tucking in brides!!!!" 5 January 2014

We get lots of strange and wonderful requests. That's what makes a day in the life of Holdsworth House so interesting. Whatever particular needs and desire you have to make your wedding special, we will pull out the stops to help.

In 2013 we celebrated 50 years as an independent hotel. From a private member's socialising den in the 1960s to one of Yorkshire's top wedding venues - 50 years provides a wealth of experience and there's almost nothing our walls have not witnessed!

Holdsworth House co-owner Gail
and Jamie Oliver
7) A team that cares

"I was first introduced to Holdsworth House by Sally Wainwright (writer of Last Tango in Halifax & Happy Valley), who suggested it as one of the locations for Alan & Celia's wedding in LTiH series two. Holdsworth House is a beautiful building, and it did eventually form part of our wedding sequence. From my initial contact with owner Gail Moss I was welcomed with open arms, a welcome that was extended to all the cast and crew whilst filming took place." Andy Morgan, Location Manager, June 2014

50 years after buying Holdsworth House, the same family still owns the hotel.

Being an independent hotel means our team takes things personally; perhaps that's why we go above and beyond many other venues. Personal pride is very important and is engrained within the culture from the owners and management team to everyone working behind the scenes.

It's this personal touch that continues to win us business. The team is selected for special projects, including TV and film, because we have a reputation of being able to deliver. We recently welcomed the cast and crew of Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax, and Jamie Oliver chose Holdsworth House to film Jamie's Great Britain. It's a reputation that goes back fifty years, when The Beatles stayed here to escape the crowds on their British tour.

Courtesy of
Mr & Mrs Costello
8) It's a stunning year round setting

"My wife and I got married at this beautiful and charming hotel on 28th December 2013 and have nothing but rave recommendations for every aspect of our special day." 3 January 2014

Spring and summer weddings are always popular. The gardens burst to life and the courtyards are full of birdsong. Many brides and grooms now consider a winter wedding equally as magical; a sprinkling of frost or snow makes Holdsworth House look spectacular.

There is so much to see at Holdsworth House. If you're looking for a venue packed to the rafters with character, history and charm, look no further. We don't pretend to be contemporary and corporate, we like to offer all of life's luxuries in a more interesting and engaging way.

9) Indoors or out, take your pick

"We married at Holdsworth House yesterday, 8th March 2014 and all I can say is that it was amazing. We had a perfect day. The hotel is fabulous, the food is gorgeous and the staff are absolutely amazing. If you want to tie the knot Holdsworth is the place to do it."

There aren't too many places in Yorkshire where you can be married outdoors. There are a number of rules in place by the registrars that venues must abide by for legal marriages to take place. We've done our homework and our Courtyard weddings are fully licensed and increasingly popular.

10) Only one wedding per day

"I got married here in June 2013. I will remember this day always and for all the right reasons! The staff here are fabulous, much more than just professional and helpful, they are really friendly too and this made a huge difference to me on my big day!"

By only allowing one wedding per day we can dedicate our full attention to you.  Simples x

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Smallest Wedding Venue in the UK"

According to statistics the average number of guests attending weddings (or being invited) fell in 20013 from 103 to 94. In our experience couples refuse to compromise on quality and are choosing instead to restrict their guest list numbers in order to bring their dream wedding day within budget.

A recent wedding at Holdsworth House however broke with tradition when the couple searched Google for "the smallest wedding venue in the UK". Despite Holdsworth House comfortably catering for up to 120 guests, our wedding couple chose to tie the knot in our historic Gazebo, which is perfect for marriages with up to 8 guests and we understand is officially the smallest licensed wedding venue in the UK. 

This beautiful stone building in one corner of the Parterre Garden might have once been a summer house or a former oratory, there's even suggestion of a secret tunnel from the manor house to the Gazebo, although none has ever been discovered! Inside is an original fireplace and mullioned windows on three sides giving views over the gardens and neighbouring paddocks. The ceiling is festooned with white muslin and the walls are stencilled with a design taken from original, historic drawings - altogether making a very pretty and romantic picture.

The Gazebo's well worn stone steps are edged with colourful planting and are where Jamie Oliver cooked a very tasty looking lamb shank for his Jamie's Great Britain series.

Our happy couple brought an international flavour to Yorkshire on Thursday 22nd May 2014; the groom was from Transylvania and the beautiful bride from Hungary. The happy couple live in London and have no historical connection with Yorkshire but found our hidden gem through the powers of Google.

With two registrars, the bride, groom and six guests the little Gazebo made a wonderful, cosy and intimate setting to exchange vows. The Yorkshire theme went down a storm with our jet setters too; canapes of smoked salmon, mini shepherd's pies with mustard and bite sized Yorkshire puddings preceded a small wedding breakfast set out in the Ayrton private dining room where a fabulous loin of Yorkshire pork was cooked with crispy crackling to delighted guests.

True to our word, only one wedding was allowed at the hotel that evening: whether it's eight or 88 guests the bridal party gets VIP treatment every single time.

The attention to detail was clearly welcomed by the new Mr & Mrs, who tweeted "Had the best time of our lives the staff was absolutely outstanding! Special thanks to Tracy, Gale & everyone involved."

Here are some of their Instagram pictures:

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sally Wainwright's Happy Valley showcases Yorkshire

Picture: The Independent
Following the utterly brilliant Last Tango in Halifax, the latest TV drama written by Sally Wainwright hit the screen last night on the BBC. 'Happy Valley' is a gritty  West Yorkshire-based story set in a pretty village, Hebden Bridge.  Police sergeant Cawood (played by Sarah Lancashire) becomes embroiled in a kidnap plot involving the same man who drove her daughter to suicide years earlier. Taking in the darker side of life, including modern-day drugs culture, Happy Valley lacks the comedy of Wainwright's Last Tango in Halifax but is as utterly absorbing, be warned you may not blink for an hour.

Gripping TV story lines have been magnificently acted out in this drama, once again by lead actor Sarah Lancashire whose powerful deliveries leave us craving for next week's episode. At Holdsworth House we were lucky to accommodate Lancashire and other Happy Valley actors throughout filming in Hebden Bridge and nearby villages.

The first episode received good reviews from The Telegraph describing it as 'nail biting', and The Independent said the 'Homegrown, Yorkshire-set drama is better than Fargo'.

In addition to sharing Wainwright's BAFTA wining writing talent with the world, the local business and tourism economy has undoubtedly seen a boost in recent years as her stories are realised by producer Karen Lewis of Red Production Company. Through Last Tango in Halifax the number of enquiries for Holdsworth House has increased, lets hope the businesses of nearby Hebden Bridge see their trade magnified as their surroundings are showcased. Thankfully the wonderful artistic boutiques of Hebden Bridge and iconic Yorkshire scenery offer more escapism on a short break than the ficticious illegal drugs culture featured in the show!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Last Tango Spurs More Mature Weddings

There is little doubt that the brilliant Red Production series of Last Tango in Halifax for the BBC caused a ripple effect in popularising weddings of more mature brides and grooms, says the team at Holdsworth House in Halifax. 

The BAFTA winning BBC One show told the tale of Alan Buttershaw (Derek Jacobi) and Celia Dawson (Anne Reid) who are both widowed and in their 70s. When their grandsons put them on Facebook, they rediscover feelings for one another that are just as intense and beautiful now as they were 60 years ago when they were teenagers.

The series two finale on Christmas Eve showed Alan and Celia finally tying the knot and celebrating their romance with a grand wedding reception. Series writer Sally Wainwright from Halifax was insistent that as many scenes as possible were filmed in locations familiar to her. Wainwright and Red Production’s producer Karen Lewis chose four-star hotel Holdsworth House in Halifax - already a popular wedding venue - as one of the romantic settings.

Since airing, the team at Holdsworth House has seen enquiries for marriages and receptions from more mature couples increase twofold. It is clear that the story of Alan and Celia’s relationship described as ‘a celebration of the uplifting power of love at any age’ has encouraged many mature coupes to take the plunge.

Wedding coordinator Claire Nicholl said, ”We have seen a definite increase in older couples wanting to get married or renew their vows at Holdsworth House since Last Tango in Halifax. We call it the ‘Alan & Celia effect’! Sometimes couples that come to us have been married before, like Alan and Celia, and it is so wonderful to see large families celebrating the happiness of their grandparents or mums and dads together. The TV show was quite true to life focusing very much on family relationships; it was quite dark as well as comical in places since both Alan and Celias families come with baggage. However in the rare occasion there is tension we find that families tend to put any differences aside and the hotel becomes a wonderfully happy place to be”

Nicholl continues, ”We were lucky to be featured in the show. We still get visitors coming in saying ‘We saw it on Last Tango’, but when they realise they too can get married here, the excitement is palpable. We find older couples tend to want a sophisticated, understated wedding celebration. These are people who know what they like and want quality over quantity, good food and relaxed surroundings. ”

Last Tango in Halifax is up for its second year of BAFTA nominations in May 2014, with headline cast members Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker in the running for best supporting actress.

Pictures courtesy of Kyte Photography and Red Production Company