The Big House Company – how we got to here…..
When life takes an unexpected turn
Life sometimes turns on a sixpence and that was certainly the case for Ben and Victoria in December 1995 when they unexpectedly became the owners of Tone Dale House and moved in on Victoria’s 30th birthday. They were the 5th generation of the Fox family to live in this glorious, if rather chilly, grand country house in Wellington, Somerset.
Tone Dale House was built in 1801 for Thomas Fox, the founder of Fox Brothers (clothmaker), which in its heyday included nine mills and employed nearly 5000 employees. It was a major manufacturer of khaki uniform cloth for the 1st and 2nd World War. The fine flannel suitings were worn by the likes of Winston Churchill and Cary Grant and are still in demand from the discerning, including the British royal family.
Transforming Tone Dale House into a party house to hire
With plans made, a major renovation project kicked off in January 1996 – heating systems, new bathrooms, painting, decorating, garden restoration. Exciting times! The first guests arriving 4 months later and the 3 day house party was born. Since then the Stables has been added for extra accommodation, the old Laundry building has become a second large dining room with fabulous double storey bedroom above and a sound proofed party room was converted from the potting shed.
The Big House Company is launched
Other big house owners approached us and our past guests wanted more houses to stay in. So we started The Big House Company and become agent to more handpicked houses, mostly locally to start with and now nationally.
Peter and Caroline Insall joined as partners, bringing Peter’s experience of running weddings and events at Richard Branson’s Roof Gardens in Kensington, London.
Another country house wedding venue is added
In 2006 Widcombe Grange was added and provided a flexible and exciting 17 acre property for wonderful weekend weddings, as well as being a super popular holiday house to rent in Somerset with an outdoor pool, hot tub and 2 lakes. The coach house was renovated for indoor ceremonies, evening dancing and a fun space in general. Biomass was installed to keep the house (& Tone Dale House) toasty warm and environmentally sound.
Our 20th anniversary
Fast forward to 2016 and we found ourselves already marking our 20th birthday, where did the time go! So we couldn’t let that go without having a celebration – we are a party venue after all!
Colleagues, old and new came to join us at Tone Dale House, for a beautiful, sunny evening, with cocktails on the lawn and a few speeches to boot. We reminisced and laughed and made more plans for the future, which we hope will continue to delight our guests.
And more recently
2018 was a landmark year, when we were delighted to be named sole agent and manager for Tatham House in Somerset. An exquisite, high spec, large house to hire for up to 20 people with 10 en-suite bedrooms, indoor pool, tennis court and hot tub. It’s been a fabulously exciting project to be involved with and it is proving to be very popular with big house guests wanting a house with all the 21st century luxuries.
We are looking forward to representing other new exciting properties as well as building on the good relations we have with the owners of our existing, lovely large holiday houses.
2020/21 due to Covid, many of our houses were closed for months on end. However, it was a chance to renovate and renew and look forward to welcoming our guests again.