b'Thicket Priory, North Yorkshire:a wedding venue fit for a fairytaleTravel writer Katie Gregory visited Thicket Priory, a former nunneryin Yorkshire thats been fully restored and opened as one of the UKs finest private houses available to rent for weddings and special events.General manager, Anna Winkworth, meets us at the door and whisks us straight off to the bara decadent mix of wood paneling, velvet furnishings and oversized chandeliers. The bar itself spills out from a marble mantelpiece covered in glittering bottles of artisan ginits pleasingly ad-hoc: less stuffy hotel, more bohemian home-from-home. If you happen to live in an impeccably decorated Grade-II listed mansion, that is. As relationship manager Serena takes us on a tour of the property, it becomes clear that Thicket Priory is not your average wedding venue. We snake through Victorian passageways and climb narrow staircases to find 35 A s if on cue, theres a break in the clouds as weindividually decorated bedrooms, each with incredibly turn off the main road and up a narrow laneelegant interiors and sparkling en suites. They dont have towards Thicket Priory, a country house nestledTVs, telephones, mini-bars or kettles. Instead, guests are in the Yorkshire countryside, and our destination for theencouraged to talk to each other as they make a fresh night.brew in one of four traditional pantries dotted around.My friend and I have spent two hours on a train fromGrandeur aside, these humble pantries are easily my Kings Cross to York, jumped in a taxi at the stationfavourite feature of Thicket Priory. Gone are the plastic-and craned our necks as the citys sights sped pastwrapped hotel cookies and thimbles of UHT milk in the windows in a blur of crumbling walls and spikyfavour of freshly baked cakes and biscuits, hot chocolate, cathedral peaks. Fifteen minutes later, after a few missedproper coffee and dried herbs to make flavoured teas. turns from the taxi driver (this place is as elusive as itsGuests can help themselves to whatever they fancy, exclusive) the Sat Nav loudly announces weve reached24/7. I spied retro Viscount biscuits and Tunnocks our destination. Tea Cakes, and was glad of a cool glass of water in Sunlight streams through the trees just as Thicket Priorythe middle of the night that wasnt lukewarm from the comes into view, bathing the red-brick property in earlybathroom tap, drunk from the glass my toothbrush was evening sun like a hazy Instagram filter. Framed by brightin.green lawns and paintbox-yellow rapeseed fields, thisLater, once wed gasped at the sheer size and splendour Victorian mansion is a stop-you-in-your-tracks kind ofof the bridal suite, we poked around the rest of the house place. The long approach gives you ample time to take from its secret passageways and tiny observation in the full scale of the place, which in our case meant attower with a telescope, to its private chapel complete least a minute of open-mouthed silence. with kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows. That evening, Built in the 1840s on the site of a Benedictine nunnery,we sat down to an extraordinary three-course meal in Thicket Priory was designed by Edward Blorebest- the ballroom, prepared by luxury local caterers Baba known for his work on Buckingham Palace. It was stillGanoush. Set up for a wedding or special event, this occupied by nuns until a decade ago, when they movedhuge space is as elegant as it gets, and can seat up to to a separate property on the estate, which remains a250 people.working Carmelite monastery. The next morning, we had some time to kill before a day Thats when Thicket Priory began its transformationat York Races, so we set off for a wander through the from a cut-off country house to an exclusive events andgrounds. With neat lawns that slope gently down to a weddings venue. And after a ten-year restoration projectlake scattered with lily pads and criss-crossed by bridges, led by its hands-on new owner, Bruce Corrie, it openedits like stepping straight into a Monet painting. If theres at the tail-end of 2018 as one of the UKs finest privatea more romantic setting for a wedding, Id love to see it. homes for hire.Because Thicket Priory was picture-book perfect.Katie was hosted by Thicket Priory in return for this review, which first appeared on her travel blog www.therewegoblog.com. Thicket Priory is at Thorganby, York YO19 6DE and is available to hire for weddings, functions and corporate events. Visit www.thicketpriory.co.uk, call 01904 230600 or email enquiry@thickFollow us on twitter @OVLMagazine Find us on Facebook etpriory.co.uk to find out more.OVL Magazine 49'