Academic Writing Retreat – April

There is so much about Structured Academic Writing Retreats that still is quite unfamiliar amongst academics that I sometimes feel like taking a step back and unveiling the ‘arcane’ to all neophytes.. After all the practice of Residential Structured Academic Writing Retreats is still the reserve of a few academics ‘in the know’.. But why should it be?

Our retreats are for everyone who has a writing deadline – generally while working in HE or completing an assignment. This recently took the shape of an NQT teacher and a senior lecturer both working on completing their portfolios! But more frequently, it is focused writing that gets done, no matter the discipline.

Residential Academic Writing Retreat – April 2019

Take our latest April cohort: it was as interdisciplinary as they come – it always is – bringing together expertise from the Social Sciences, the Humanities and Language Learning. Participants did not know each other and had come from far and wide: there were some lucky ones who were only a drive away, having come from Newcastle University, Leeds University and Keele University; but others had travelled by train from Exeter and Sussex. Hull University was well represented, thanks also to the Facilitator running the sessions, Dr Elsbeth Robson. We did have one participant who had flown in from Dublin – Maynooth University. Irish participants are becoming a regular feature at our retreats – and we love them! – We are very lucky with Leeds Airport serving the area very well.

Checking put the Schedule before a new Session commences

The cohort was an all-women group and it was a pleasure to see how well everybody jelled right from the first ‘sharing goals session’. It is one of the requirements and strengths of our retreats that everyone contributes towards establishing a cohesive and supportive environment in which everyone can feel relaxed and able to focus… this way productivity flows and everyone thrives!

Time to share thoughts..

Breaks are factored into our Structured Retreats and they are an important element of the day: whether participants feel like going for a jog, taking a leisurely walk or relaxing by giving our lawn croquet a go, there is something for everyone’s taste.

Who says you need a team to play croquet?
if it’s a simple leg-stretch you need, you can take yourself away by walking our fields

For the most intrepid and energetic participants there are a number of options.. whether it is bonding with our llamas while jogging or reaching for the sky while bouncing on our sunken trampoline!

Feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another PhD chapter!

Whatever type of ‘fun and games’ our participants choose during their Academic Writing Retreat, this is no laughing matter. Indeed, it is no coincidence that next month – which is #mentalhealthawareness month and will see the UK hosting mental health awareness week

a partnership of universities – The University of Sussex and the University of Portsmouth – will be holding the First International Conference of the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers

We feel that in a small way we are also making our contribution to the #Wellbeing of the #Postgraduate Community, as PhDs constitute an important element of our cohort. We are looking forward to welcoming more participants in May – there are still a couple of places available – so we will be back with more updates in a month’s time!

Forthcoming dates: 7th-9th May; 4th-6th June; 25th-27th June

To find out more or register your interest see

Academic Writing Retreat – March

Last week I said good-bye to our latest Academic Writing Retreat. It was our first one in 2019 – others having taken place in 2017 and 2018 under the firm guidance of Prof. Rowena Murray and, more recently, Dr Elsbeth Robson.

Elsbeth, who is conveniently based at the University of Hull is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the Department of Geography, Geology and Environment and this may explain why there was an unusually high number of PhD students and postdocs within the social sciences. Lunch breaks conversations were fascinating, enlightening me on the latest field projects currently being carried out in the Arctic – as a historian I am fascinated to delve in the world of science – much talk about the latest discoveries on the composition of volcanic magma..

If there is one thing I love about hosting our academic writing retreats is the informal conversations over our homemade supper. As a previous Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, I enjoy creating new opportunities for interdisciplinary exchanges – they are illuminating for both sides and they are a wonderful way to relax and think about other people’s research other than one’s own.. All happened in our homely breakfast room which hosted all our main meals due to this cohort being quite a small group.

Our Breakfast Room was put to work as the main space for all meals

It was the first time we hosted such an intimate group of Academic Writing Retreaters. On other occasions we have had over a dozen participants and I was curious to see how the day and the dynamics would roll out.

In fact there was a brilliant atmosphere. Everyone felt relaxed and happy to contribute what they could to the group. Focus and productivity was of course paramount – and already by the first evening participants had clarified their goals and were feeling energised. By Day Two they were on a roll.. one wonderful participant, who is a Yoga teacher, was generous enough to offer us all a Yoga session during the evening break – absolute bliss. I had read about the benefits of Yoga and Relaxation in conjunction to Writing – after all these Writing retreats are good for productivity as well as well-being! – but it was great to experience this first hand.

Homemade Healthy Breakfast for the Brain Cells!

The meals were a relaxed and healthy affair – As usual they were all vegetarian, but we did introduce some new Healthy Recipes which went down very well – we will repeat! I was also delighted to see that the Italian pasta – which had come especially from an Italian Pastificio was a real hit – clean bowls galore! This is what you get in North Yorkshire..!

It was sad to wave good-bye to everyone, but satisfying to know that GOOD PROGRESS had been made by all. And as always.. this is never good-bye, but Arriverderci!


What is the best thing about having an Open Day? You might think that it’s an opportunity for the owners to showcase what the venue has to offer, give prospective couples the chance to browse around while relaxing and chatting with family and friends, or give some prospective clients a chance to meet some of our trusted suppliers… but it it much more than that!

What I have learnt in the chance conversation I had with some clients and by listening to snippets of conversation during our OPEN DAY is this: our couples have LOADS MORE QUESTIONS that they would like answered and seeing Chapelgarth Estate has all but tickled their curiosity! So here we go…. I am going to give this a stab and try and answer some of the questions which were on people’s lips, if not on people’s minds..

Couples love having a blank canvas for planning their wedding, yet when they arrive at Chapelgarth Estate one or two may well be wondering…


Chapelgarth Estate is very versatile and may adapt to your vision, but some pointers on how best to use our rooms according to your number of guests  are essential. The secret of a successful wedding party is that the space matches the number of guests -you don’t want them to be too squished for too long and yet you also must avoid to have too much space! The latter is by far the worst option as too much space will result in a non-organic, possibly even soulless vibe.. and that is definitely not what you want!


The magic of our venue is that Chapelgarth becomes YOUR HOME on your wedding weekend. This means that your nearest and dearest are there to help you host the party: max 15 people can stay in the main house. Our spacious kitchen is often the hub of the house – whether on the evening before or on the day of the wedding..

Who’s making coffee in the morning on your wedding day?

You can enjoy the chill-out feel on your special day, while the house is bustling with last minute wedding tweaks..
















If you are having your wedding ceremony at Chapelgarth Estate you can choose from different function rooms:

If you are having up to 30 people for the actual ceremony, and you are after an intimate and elegant feel I recommend our Lower Drawing Room – this will be set up as ceremony room from when you arrive on the Friday – you may want to decorate and style it that evening..



We recommend the Lower Drawing Room for our most intimate ceremonies











If you are wanting to seat between 30 and 50 guests our Upper Drawing Room is ideal.. however we have seated up to 60 here..!

Once your ceremony has taken place you may choose from different outside spaces: the front lawn or the courtyard for your drinks, photos and tossing of the bouquet..

An intimate wedding – having drinks in the courtyard

Want to celebrate on our front lawn? Pick your choice!

Our courtyard is a versatile space that may be used for your drinks, wedding breakfast or just as chill out space, if you are choosing to have the wedding breakfast in our Artist’s Studio.  If you are having a blessing with a celebrant this is the perfect outside space!

If you are worried about the weather.. we’ve got it covered.. from May 2019 all summer packages will include our 9X9m pagodas – with or without sides depending on the type of day it is!


Yes! If you have up to 50-60 guests you may get married in the Upper Drawing Room and then have your wedding breakfast in the Studio.. Round tables or Long tables? it’s up to you..



As far as the ceremony is concerned, you are limited to 70 people within the Artist’s Studio, which is our biggest licensed room. It can look gorgeous styled by one of the many wonderful suppliers available..

Our beautiful window sills are a joy for every florist!


For the Wedding breakfast, we recommend using the courtyard space – you may be in luck and have a summer Mediterranean style evening.. but if not our all-inclusive Summer Pagodas will keep your guests dry..



For weddings up to 70-80 guests we recommend that you have your wedding breakfast in the courtyard and comeback in the Studio with your dancing shoes on! We turn the room round for you while you are all enjoying your meal and speeches..  our mezzanine is perfect for DJs or a band. Our wooden floor will keep your guests dancing until midnight!


Two Grooms are Better than One: Our latest Photoshoot

Image may contain: one or more people and shoes

Our motto being ‘inclusivity with style’, we felt that the time was right to call for a same-sex photo-shoot styled at Chapelgarth Estate. As the idea was taking shape, London Pride was all over London, Teresa May declared her endorsement of ‘love is love’ – for once ignoring the DUP – and Ireland was celebrating a major victory on behalf of gay rights.

So what could be more appropriate? Sounds easy does it not? Well, not that easy. I set out identifying a wedding planner who would be able to pull it all together. This was not as straightforward as I had imagined. Indeed the idea was turned down by more than one wedding planner: after some consideration I decided to persevere. I was extremely lucky to find in Pamella Dunn a confident and well-established Yorkshire lass/ International Wedding Planner who was more than happy to take on the challenge. Rounding up a number of resolved and unfazed wedding suppliers,  we had the shoot come together – starring a gay couple and their lovely dog, Bitsy.

The atmosphere of the shoot was infectious – there was good will and humour in abundance throughout the day and lots of props and green foliage to create the backdrop and the right atmo.  A band of talented and open-minded suppliers was all that was needed – and the amazing photographer Lianne Gray was on hand to capture it all! So here are some of my favourite shots:


It was a real privilege to see everything come together thanks to the commitment of the suppliers – @pamelladunn @liannegrayphoto @graystarlingsdesign @vanessawildflowers @catkinjane @myprettiesuk @wheretheribbonends @extraspecialtouch @akitoavalanche. However we could only breath a sigh of relief once we knew that the photo shoot had been accepted for publication – we had to have the right wedding blogger ready to embrace diversity and inclusivity .. and BOY! Did we find her!

…Thanks a million to   Annabel Beeforth at Love My Dress who embraced the challenge… by publishing our styled shoot LMD gained short of 2000 likes! If you are reading this and it has not yet reached round figures give it a Like 😉


View this post on Instagram

I attended an event recently where someone stood up with a microphone and confidently told their audience “of course, as a bride, you want to feel your very best on your wedding day when seeing your groom…”. It jarred with me, but I wasn’t the only one – one of the ladies standing to my side whispered to the lady next to her “or bride!”. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It led to me sharing the following on Twitter and reminded me how important it is that all of us in the wedding industry use inclusive language when dealing with any individual; "Not all brides are marrying grooms. Some are marrying brides. And for that matter, some grooms are marrying grooms. Please be mindful in your choice of language and try not to make assumptions.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It is with this experience in mind that I take the greatest of pleasure in sharing this editorial shoot with you today; Two Grooms. We may be called ‘Love My Dress’ but that doesn’t limit anything. Best thing I saw this week on Instagram was actually a groom in a dress (living his BEST life, happy as can be, accepted for who he is and how he wishes to express himself). Love My Dress has embraced diversity and inclusivity for a long time now – our goal is to inspire modern day couples planning a wedding, regardless of their sex, age, skin colour, size, sexual orientation, or anything else 👨‍❤️‍👨 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Venue @chapelgarth_estate Photographer @liannegrayphoto Planner & Head Stylist @pamelladunn Florist @vanessawildflowers Stylist @myprettiesuk Cake Designer @wheretheribbonends Stationery @graystarlingdesigns Mens Accessories @CatkinJane Embroidered Linen Napkins @extraspecialtouch Personal Details @akitoavalanche

A post shared by Love My Dress® (@lovemydress) on


How will you entertain your wedding guests?

Wedding planning, wedding planning! Amongst the many aspects that wedding couples need to consider is the thorny question of how they will entertain their guests.. It can be a long day and couples are often not able to choose when their ceremony will take place. Registrars are busy people and they are in charge of the slots!

So even if you have opted for having your ceremony at Chapelgarth Estate – and you have the luxury of having everything in one place – you must map out how best to use the space available so that you feel that all your guests have made the most of the grounds, field and garden.

You may choose for a dedicated wedding entertainment company to come and set up in the field. There are lots to choose from out there: we particularly liked the choice made by one of our couples – Chris and Hayley. They are an outdoor-loving couple, enjoy the countryside and relate to country sports. Their choice was to book in for a ‘laser-clay-shooting’ afternoon – and what a hit it was! As you cam imagine the men were the first to line up – talk about a wedding with a competitive edge! Yet as the day drew on, it was the ladies who grew in confidence – and ‘BY GUM! – did they get cracking by the end of the day 🙂 – we had all out competition between the bride, the mother-in-law, the mother-of-the-bride and the bridesmaids..

Having said this, corporate entertainment is not everybody’s style, and you may not wish to resort to a specialist company to provide entertainment for your guests.. after all the field is there for everyone to enjoy ( and it is always included as part of our packages – it’s there if you want it!) What about setting up ‘Viking Games’ at Chapelgarth? It’s been done before!! You might just need an energetic bride (or two, in this case) to get the ball rolling.. No doubt they all had a ball..

The thing is…when the bride really wants to play, nobody is going to say No, are they?!



It may take the shape of a more relaxed type of entertainment.. what about a chill out area with Jenga and other ‘olde-worlde’ giant games?


You  may say you got them for the children.. however the bride is aloud a chill-out game too.


And, of course, there is always the sunken trampoline at the end of our lawn…

It keeps the children happy (they say)…. and not only them!

.. and we don’t mind.. especially when the adult has read the rules and has diligently taken his shoes off! 🙂

Want to know more about how to use the space at Chapelgarth Estate to entertain your guests? Book a place at our OPEN DAY and visit us on          14TH OCTOBER (1.00-4.00). SIGN UP BY REGISTERING:

Oh… for an August Wedding!

Let nature style your wedding photos!

As Gateway to the North York Moors, Chapelgarth Estate is ideally placed for a pre-wed – or post-wed! –  photoshoot. August is no doubt the most striking month to make it up the moor, with the purple heather in bloom stretching for miles. Take your pick, we are equally close to Clay Bank and Carlton moor – both on the Cleveland Way – or Baysdale moor – a stone throw away on the way to Kildale.

My advice is to talk to your photographer – we have a number of recommended suppliers, but most will oblige… after all, who would refuse their happy couple the most breath-taking views on their wedding weekend?

Here’s some inspiration for you provided to us by some of our talented suppliers:

Following your moor photo shoot, return to Chapegarth Estate and enjoy the view of the surrounding moors from the comfort of our stylish venue: you will notice even more the rolling silhouette of the North York Moors that hug our marquee fields!

If the thought of a moor-themed wedding inspires you, you may want to sprinkle a bit of heather for your wedding guests to enjoy… Whether it’s the styling of your table and chairs (Below: Hessian  ribbon with heather from Simply Seat Covers) or the final touch on your hair-do or your bouquet, a simple sprig of heather will go a long way to make you stand out as an authentic moor bride…

And when you are stepping into a glamorous vintage car.. why not add that finishing heather touch on the bonnet?

For more ideas and suppliers’ inspiration visit us – August dates in 2019 and 2020 still available:

OPEN DAY  Sunday 14th October 2018 from 1.00-4.00.

Register in advance an qualify for two glasses of our House Prosecco











Are you a July Bride?

Summer weddings are very popular and, inevitably, whenever I am booking a couple for a viewing, the summer month dates crop up. For very good reasons, of course, not only the weather – 2018 has given us a taste of a balmy English summer! – but because family and friends tend to be more available due to school holidays..


I am always a little bit surprised however, when brides book us having viewed us in a different season from their chosen wedding date. Don’t get me wrong, this may make perfect sense for an urban chic wedding but if you are coming to see us you may well have in mind a country wedding, right? Well, setting the scene is all important – after all, how important is the garden in an English country house!? It is the backdrop for your photos – as well as the beautiful North York Moors, of course – and the flowers will colour your ‘blank canvas’ wedding with their  tones and colour scheme..

There are of course some flowers that will be out the best part of the summer months – take this lavender trough in our walled garden – it’s a real colour trooper: having flowered week in week out since June the flowers have no intention to wilt any time soon..

Yet if we are talking roses, the landscape of our garden is changing fortnight by fortnight. So if you are planning a wedding in July at Chapelgarth Estate you may well have missed the deep dark red roses – gracing the facade in June – but you may well be in for a real treat if you are looking for pink rose petals.. This Bonica Rose Tree had us waiting all June with its tightly closed buds and yet now it is a real splendour – don’t you agree? It sits in the walled garden and it is there for everyone to admire – especially if you are choosing to  have an outdoor celebration.. Equally, it makes a beautiful focal point for photos if you choose to have drinks in this secluded part of the garden.

If you are opting for Pimms on the lawn – with breathtaking views of the North York Moors – then you can still enjoy the dark pink and pale pink roses on the garden trellis – these will be flowering throughout July and we will keep deadheading them to keep them going longer!

The first splash of colour that your guests will see as they make their way up the drive is a row of Hydrangeas – they are only really coming out now – mid-July – and they will be getting bigger.. do bear that in mind.

While we understand that no bride should turn into a gardening expert, it may still be worth bearing in mind a few of these tips – they may well come in useful when you are planning your venue styling with your florist – or indeed when you decide on the colour-scheme of your bouquet..

If you like what you see do book in for a viewing soon – the good news is, we have still wedding weekends available in July 2019..

Happy Wedding Venue Hunting!

A weekend away.. at our house!

Staycation, staycation staycation! Well, last weekend we took this new trend to the limit and decided to have a holiday at Chapelgarth Estate. We invited old friends to enjoy our house, gardens and surrounding North York moors – and with the help of our three grown-ups kids we had a ball 🙂
So now we know even better why our guests enjoy it so much here – a bit of market research which was not only pain less but actually enjoyable..!
So thank you to all our wonderful friends that made this possible..
We should do more of this!

The programme on Day 1

Walking on the moors


Making our way to Ingleby church – with our llamas following us

A visit to Kildale church

The waterfall

An edible mushroom?

Ingleby church – Sunday service

Sheep eyeing us up on the moor

Sheep showing us the Cleveland Way

Hurray! It’s only a 5 minute train journey back!

Time to relax!

Heather Heaven in winter

At Chapelgarth Estate we love our heather! Winter bride or summer bride if it is heather you love, we have it! Winter weddings can draw inspiration from our latest photoshoot at Chapelgarth Estate. We were able to call on a fabulous team who took on board our vision:  Gillian Neild @gillianneild, super-energetic wedding planner  recruited the most enthusiastic team of suppliers to inspire any future bride. So who said that there is no colour in winter? Suzanne @beamsleyblooms –  our talented florist produced a heather-themed bouquet which combined simple and lush. How we love this!

The heather theme provided plenty of creative inspiration for @yourdaysbydesign who was in charge of the stationery..


And I was absolutely blown away by this invitation, featuring an image of Chapelgarth! I have a sneaky feeling this image of our house may well resurface sooner or later! So watch this space!

If you are looking for more inspiration and variations on the heather theme, visit The English Wedding Blog – Just published!

How to use purple accents for vibrant and elegant wedding styling

Photo-shoot credits:












Photo-shoot Memories (1)

Flashback to our very first photoshoot at Chapelgarth Estate.

Talk about Beginner’s Luck…!

Photo by Arabella Smith, Fine Art Wedding Photographer, North Yorkshire

..Just over a year ago, as we ventured into the then unknown galaxy of wedding photo-shoots, we were still finding our feet into the arcane world of wedding suppliers – how should we source the most talented suppliers in the North-East?

Enter: Sian Chaplin.

We were incredibly lucky to be guided through the wedding industry maze by the incredible expertise of a super team, led by Wedding Planner Sian Chaplin ( ). Sian not only lined up for us a fantastic model, Kayleigh Richmond – World Supermodel for England 2016-2017 and accomplished classical ballet performer  but then proceeded in having our very first wedding shoot published by no other than Rock My Wedding blog. If you are looking for inspiration for an ethereal, ballet inspired theme for your wedding day, look no further than this link:

Beautiful as the polished product is, I actually loved all the excitement of the ‘behind the scenes’ action – the sort of ‘sneak peak’ that you never get to see.. so I thought I’d share with you a few pics.. just to make it all more real.. And here they are!

                                  Sian Chaplin at work in the conservatory


Dress sorting: straightening up the beautiful gown while walking through our walled garden


So.. what’s the best perspective on this lovely cake by ? If in doubt.. crouch!



Oh, so exhausting! …And still so beautiful our lovely Kayleigh! Just like those flowers by


 End of a hard day and still smiling – I’d hire these girls any time 😉