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Northumberland's most quirky venue? What we thought of a staycation at Charlton Hall

From a giant giraffe that towers over the central staircase to subterranean vaults where you can party the night away under neon lips, Charlton Hall is head to toe in quirky details.

Friday, 6th May 2022, 11:22 am
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 12:07 pm

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Turn any corner at this former Northumberland manor house and you’ll find something new to oooh and ahhh over, from ceilings covered in cupid wallpaper, like a trendy Sistine Chapel, and plumes of pink ostrich feathers to a wall made entirely of cubed mirrors and hooks shaped like hands that leap out of doors, this is a venue that’s big in personality, a veritable curiosity shop of fun features.

Since it was taken over by The Doxford Group in 2017, the Grade II-listed 18th century hall, near the hamlet of Chathill, has undergone a renaissance to turn it into a wedding venue for couples who really want to turn heads, particularly in its Looking Glass function room at the rear of the site, with its flower wall, Art Deco monochrome floor, disco lights and floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the 150-acre Doxford Estate.

But it isn’t just wedding parties who get to live it up at Charlton Hall. In between its 130 bookings a year for functions, it hosts mid-week deals for people who want to staycation in style.

Charlton Hall in Chathill, Northumberland, now has a mid-week staycation offering

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Here’s what to expect:

Rooms

There’s six en-suite suites in the main house, each with a very different aesthetic and talking point features.

We stayed in one of the larger suites, named Ella, a pretty room, with its statement gold flamingo lamp stands, plush pink sofa and starbust-effect light fitting, that houses two double beds.

The main house dates back to the 18th century

The Charlotte suite, however, is an edgier affair with a neon Kiss Me sign above the bed, mirrored wardrobes and a bathroom where monkeys climb the walls.

Like Ella and Charlotte, the other suites, Alfie, Lydia, Harry and Eliza, are all named after children connected to the estate’s owner Richard Shell. Each has a boutique, bespoke feel and an identity that’s ever so boujee.

The businessman grew up on the neighbouring Doxford Farm, a mile down the road and home to his other successful wedding venue, Doxford Barns.

He’d long admired Charlton Hall and when it came up for sale five years ago, he jumped at the chance to acquire the building, give it a whole new identity and relaunch it as a second events venue on The Doxford Group estate.

Quirky features in Charlotte suite in the main house at Charlton Hall.

The estate is also his home, he lives a stone’s throw away from the main house in Garden Cottage with his family, and he’s very much a hands on owner who encourages visitors to feel as though it were their home too.

As well as the main house, there’s other accommodation which can be booked as part of a staycation deal, including Pole Barn with its seven secluded private rooms, which have more of a Scandi-inspired aesthetic and Farm House, which has five rooms, each with pretty-as-a-picture pastel bathrooms and the new Lookout cottage, a one-bedroom cottage, full of charm, that offers some woodland seclusion.

Food

At the minute, the staycation offering is on a bed and breakfast basis, with breakfasts for all guests, whether staying in the main house or cottages, served in the main house from 8.15am to 10.15am,

Staycation guests can enjoy light bites from the bar or travel to one of the restaurants in the surrounding area.

For evening meals, the hall, which doesn’t have its own restaurant, is around 15 minutes from places such as Bamburgh, Seahouses and Alnwick which offer some great restaurants showcasing a wealth of Northumberland produce.

We chose to eat at the main house whose bar is open from 5.30pm. As there’s no restaurant-style menu, the bar’s offering is billed as ‘light bites’, which can be enjoyed in any of the reception rooms, but there was nothing light about our charcuterie and cheese boards which almost buckled under the weight of huge hunks of cheese, sliver upon sliver of cured and cooked meats, olives, crackers, chutney and sourdough.

It was the perfect picky tea and we thoroughly enjoyed attempting to put a dent in it while sat in the salubrious surroundings of the lounge. There’s no reception desk in the main house, but staff are on hand in the evenings for cocktail muddling and more. There’s also an emergency number if anything should happen overnight.

Prices

Midweek overnight stays for Spring / Summer 2022 start from £99 per night based on two guests sharing. You can book direct at www.CharltonHall.co.uk

The site is easily accessed from the A1, just past Alnwick, and has its own on-site car park.

A giraffe head looms large over the central staircase

The Doxford Estate

The estate also houses the aforementioned Doxford Barns, which although a sister venue to Charlton Hall is a polar opposite in style with its rustic, exposed stone walls and hay bales.

It’s part of a working farm and in spring it’s not uncommon for couples to share their photos with newborn lambs and for Farmer Tom, Richard’s dad, to muck in and lend a hand.

For those who really like to feel at one with nature on a staycation stay, there’s also glamping pods in this area of the estate.

Back at the main house, the Shell family are the latest characters to own the handsome hall.

Originally built in in the late 18th century by the notable architect William Newton, it has been the residence of several prominent people for the last three centuries.

Reverend William Tudor Thorp was born in Alnwick was the last person to purchase Charlton Hall before the current owner. His son Reginald was the father of the penultimate owner of Charlton Hall.

Each of the six suites in the main house has its own distinctive style
The Vaults is an underground lounge in the old cellar of the former manor house. Photo by Scott Carney Photography
The Ella Suite in the main house. Photo by Nigel John
The Lydia suite. Photo by Nigel John.