Opening a new events venue: The Launch of Balcombe Place and the future
Completing Phase One in time for the launch party was touch and go at moments. One day we were conquering the world and the next, the world had stopped turning.
What we accomplished in 10 weeks:
Renovated four bedrooms and bathrooms, removed the arches between the Music Room and the Billiard Room, sanded and waxed two reception room floors, renovated a previous bedroom and corridor to create new cloakrooms, rediscovered the under the stairs loo, painted wood work, painted the first floor landing, bought furniture and curtains for almost all of the rooms, polished the wooden panelling in the Music Room, removed unwanted plumbing and electric cables, battled water leaks, flooding and wallpaper stripping - and that doesn’t even include the grounds!
The launch party was a huge event. Two hundred and fifty people bought tickets, the buzz was electric both in the local community and with industry professionals. The caterers, florist, entertainment and staff were gearing up, decorative touches like the copper flame torches were purchased and we had friends scrubbing floors and decorators working in teams – it was all systems go!
I had always visualised the launch party as the realisation that this, Balcombe Place, new events venue, was actually happening. I wanted it to be big, bigger and better than any party that had previously happened in the house. Intrigued guests brilliant in black tie finery, incredible music and a stunning setting: it all fell into place beautifully.
Not currently in the position to have inhouse catering, so we searched high and low for the perfect caterer and found them. Using just one catering team, even if it was an outside business, would allow us to create bespoke Balcombe Place menus, have a handle on service and standards and create a partnership to benefit both businesses.
I felt bowl food or a “street food” vibe would be perfect for the launch party. I wanted to have a relaxed, extended canapes reception, create a party and not lose people to the depths of their seated table. It was important to us that guests were able to move around the house as they wished, sit if they wanted, dance, or explore the newly renovated bedrooms upstairs. The whole house was open and glowing. Typically, it poured with rain almost all day and almost all night, but the atmosphere inside the house was electric as guests found themselves within the sumptuous walls of this hidden gem.
The venue was a hit, everyone thought the work we had done and the touches we had added were perfect. The music provided by London’s Finest Entertainment, was a brilliant addition to the party. A saxophonist played popular songs while moving around the rooms on the ground floor. The DJ and bongos made for a really fun and energetic dancefloor, which remained full right up until carriages, at 1am.
We are honest enough to admit some downfalls.
First, the bar. We offered variety, both in price and product and the bar looked great, but it was too small and located in the wrong place. On planning the event we wanted two bars, one where it was and another in the Billiard room, just off the dancefloor, but like all best-laid plans, this idea didn’t come to fruition. We still had a great party and there was plenty of boozy dancing for the whole evening, but now we have plans for a bespoke 360-degree bar which will be under Balcombe Place management.
With regards to the food: it was delicious, but didn’t flow as planned; it bottlenecked at one entrance when the staff appeared with their laden trays, which meant guests further afield never received any. Like the bar, it is a problem easily resolved and will never happen again! We live and learn, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.
We are always looking to the future of Balcombe Place: we have our sights set firmly on offering a stunning rural country house, which others can use as their home while they are here. We have waded through patterned carpets, moulding bathrooms, leaking roofs and unmanaged lawns, and are thrilled to be realising the potential of this amazing opportunity to bring back to the public a unique location.