Now that Black Friday is out of the way it’s really full steam ahead to…
As a florist, I’m privileged to be on the recommended supplier list for some magnificent event venues in London and Kent. Here are five of my favourites, including an iconic castle where royalty roamed, a secluded gem on the bank of the River Thames and the place where heading sky-high bags you the best 360° views over the city…
The Painted Hall
Attend an event at the Painted Hall and you may run out of superlatives.
Regularly described as the ‘finest dining hall in Europe’ as well as ‘the Sistine Chapel of the UK’, it’s a jaw-dropping venue to work at – and, as clients often tell me, celebrate in.
Located in the Old Naval College in Greenwich, it was originally designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor as a dining hall for naval pensioners. The artist Sir James Thornhill painted the famous walls and ceiling over 19 years in the early 1700s.
The Painted Hall suits ornate, abundant and decadent floral arrangements. One thing we’ve come to terms with? However gorgeous our creations, they always take second place to this most beautiful of venues! It’s truly unique.
The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London SE10 9NN.
Inner Temple Hall
One of the ancient Inns of Court, the Inner Temple has been a base for barristers and judges since the 13th Century. Bombed during WWll, it was rebuilt in neo-Georgian style by Sir Hubert Worthington.
Despite a history built on hosting the great and good of the legal world, this event venue is available for private hire for weddings, receptions, banqueting and corporate events.
The Inner Temple Hall, which is one of the few Georgian-style banqueting halls in the City of London, can take different floral styles: from lush and abundant, to contemporary and clean. I also love the award-winning garden running down to the Thames – it spans a massive three acres but the fact it feels so secluded makes it perfect for marquees and summer gatherings.
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, Crown Office Row, London EC4Y 7HL.
Middle Temple Hall
Middle Temple has stood unscathed by war and fire since the 1500s so is a popular movie location – perhaps you’ve spotted it in films like The Da Vinci Code and Shakespeare in Love?
The Hall boasts a magnificent double hammer-beam roof and a 19-foot long High Table believed to have been a gift from Elizabeth l.
The atmospheric oak-panelled walls are festooned with coats of arms and suits of armour. I love creating floral designs that complement the surroundings – even though the sense of history can sometimes seem so overwhelming I feel I should whisper while I work!
Christmas events are especially magical, made all the more romantic with twinkling candlelight.
The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, Middle Temple Lane, London EC4Y 9AT.
It’s worth checking out this event venue for the history alone: once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, 13th century Hever Castle in Kent is a fantastically romantic place to get married.
With three locations for wedding ceremonies and receptions, couples can also choose from tonnes of options. They might soak up the castle’s stately grandeur, opt for The Astor Wing with its country house feel or head lakeside to the stunning Logia (pictured) and Italian Garden. There are gorgeous views from the stone piazza and Trevi fountain in particular – another reason I love it.
Hever Castle and Gardens, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG.
Searcys at The Gherkin
Make it all the way up to the top of The Gherkin and you’ve found Searcys at The Gherkin. A restaurant and bar – and quite simply jaw-dropping event venue for corporate events and private functions. Towering 180m over the city, The Gherkin is one of London’s most iconic venues and it’s a feast for the eyes.
It’s hard to concentrate on flowers when you’re at the top of this unique landmark. From spectacular sunsets to dramatic cloud formations, I always savour the views while preparing for sky-high events.
Thee contemporary, open and light surroundings call for clean, structured and modern floral arranagements like orchids, calla lillies and tropical blooms.
Searcys at The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP.