Hidden away in 250 acres of parkland and looking out over the Welsh Hills, Hillbark Hotel has a romantic history fit for a wedding venue. Originally built on Bidston Hill, this mansion was so loved by former owner Sir Ernest Royden and his wife that they couldn’t bear to leave it. So when they moved, they took the house with them – quite literally brick-by-brick. It took over two years and at present day-prices cost around 40 million pounds – a labour of love indeed! And if you are looking for a magnificent setting for your wedding photography, Hillbark Hotel may be your fairytale come true.
5 star Luxury
Marie and David chose this 5* hotel for their luxury wedding reception after a church ceremony in Liverpool. Even on a wet and windy December day, the black and white Elizabethan style architecture is impressive (it is supposed to be based on Little Moreton Hall in Congleton). On arrival the wedding party was ushered into the Contessa Bar for a drinks reception where the roaring fire was very welcome! We took the opportunity to take reportage photos as guests relaxed on the Chesterfield sofas to music from Hillbark’s resident pianist.
The Great Hall
The star of Hillbark is undoubtedly the Great Hall, the setting for Marie and David’s wedding breakfast. For those with an interest in history, the huge fireplace is dated 1527, and is said to have belonged to Sir Walter Raleigh, the stained glass windows are by William Morris. And to take everything in, you can stand and look down on it all from the Minstrel’s gallery.
“But Love is a durable fire in the mind ever burning
Never sick, never old, never dead
From itself, never turning” – Sir Walter Raleigh
The interiors of Hillbark are truly magnificent, but in winter especially, can also be dark. It may not be ideal if you are planning a pastel vintage wedding, and you need to know how to use lighting creatively to get the best from this venue. In this shot, balanced flash meant we could keep the late-afternoon sky as a dramatic backdrop whilst lighting the groom’s toast perfectly.
After the wedding breakfast, we used the fabulous staircase and Minstrel’s gallery for portrait photographs of the couple. There are wonderful features at every turn in this grade 11 listed building, and Christmas decorations added to its atmosphere and character. Like many couples, Marie and David knew they wanted portrait photos but were quite anxious about being the focus of attention, so we encouraged them not to look at the camera and just concentrate on each other and being comfortable together.
By now the rain had stopped, so we ventured outside for some night-time shots of the exterior and that wonderful timbering, and then it was back inside where the Great Hall had been transformed into a party venue and the dancing and fun started!
If you are considering a wedding at Hillbark Hotel, do drop us an email – we would love to hear about your day.