Escape to St Giles

Part symposium, part dinner party, in mid-March an incredible lineup of wedding industry leaders came together to create their inaugural event: Escape to St Giles.

Posted on 15.03.24

The Morning

St Giles House has a long and rich history; it has been at the heart of politics, philosophy and social reform for generations. Recently, an award winning restoration has seen St Giles House brought back to life and become a family home once again, playing host to some of the UK’s most exclusive weddings and events. This Spring, an incredible lineup of wedding industry leaders came together to create their inaugural event: Escape to St Giles.

Part symposium, part dinner party, the gathering began with seasonal tipples in the Tapestry Room – a wonderful welcome to the 17th Century home of the Earl & Countess. Guests enjoyed ‘ube daiquiris’ from in-house mixologists Cartails, to the soundtrack of Joel Grainger’s looping violin set, before being shown around the state rooms and bucolic gardens of St Giles.

After viewing the classic beauty of the ground and first floors, anticipation filled the air as small groups headed downstairs for a sneak-peak of St Giles’ best-kept secret. Thanks to Lord Shaftesbury’s ties to the New York club scene, the basement of St Giles is home to an outstanding cellar-turned-speakeasy, complete with a bespoke Funktion One PA system, and spanning over 200m² – bang on trend for afterparties according to Vogue.

The Lunch

While each room offers its own character – from the gold silk draped North Drawing Room to the original blue wallpaper of the main staircase, it is incredible how diverse the spaces are based on chosen decor. London, New York & Berlin based caterer Rhubarb Hospitality garnished the Library beautifully, working in harmony with a relaxed lounge area and custom bars by House of Furn, while patterned gobos from Cinemattag carried the styling touches up to the ceiling. Guests enjoyed a feast for all the senses over a lunch menu of small plates inspired by classic Asian flavours; beef tartare, salmon on crispy rice and kimchi braised short rib to name a few.

Diptyque’s Oyédo (yuzu) and Choisya (orange blossom) delicately scented the room, while buds of ranunculus and hellebore lined the bar in deep purple tones, complementing the leather bindings of the Library’s floor-to-ceiling bookcases. The quietly elegant floral displays by Martha & the Meadow drew on the colour palette of the house, and the look was completed with luxe menus by Liv Laermann, featuring Arlette Ess’ koi carp artwork – the bold print of St Giles’ Avenue Room wallpaper.

The Dialogue

After lunch, guests were invited through to the drawing rooms – the dual aspect windows, offering panoramic vistas across the Sunken Garden and Lake, made for the perfect setting for open conversation and reflection. Creatively facilitated by Make Work Play, a workshop on ‘the challenges of the events industry’ encouraged guests to share their honest experiences – opening the discussion to a range of perspectives.

The afternoon, fuelled by spiced raspberry Linzer biscuits and honey & lemon madeleines from Rhubarb, concluded with peer-to-peer support in small breakout groups around the house.

The Intermission

Making the most of the natural light, an early evening break led guests outside to immerse themselves in St Giles’ expansive grounds. Without time to discover all 5,500 acres of the private estate, a thoughtful map pointed guests to the unmissable spots; from an unassuming copse sheltering the ethereal 18th century Shell Grotto, to the beautifully restored Forestry Bar – wonderful for an informal gathering to kick-start a weekend event.

As the sun began to set over the lake, guests retired to their bedrooms to change for dinner, where they were welcomed with hand-written notes. On each bed, a gift set of cashmere socks and a silk sleep mask from the White Company perfectly complemented the towelling robes and plush bed linens by the British retailer – a staple of the 20 opulent double bedrooms at St Giles.

The Dinner

The heady scent of Diptyque’s Feu de Bois (woodfire) set the change in tone from day-to-night as guests reconvened for dinner. Lord Shaftesbury invited everyone through to the Great Dining Room where Justin Langham, owner of renowned Langham Wine Estate, welcomed guests with the first of the evening’s wine pairings.

A starter of foraged mushrooms and lemon thyme tart was enjoyed with the rich Culver Classic Cuvée, followed by Creedy Carver duck and salt-baked crapaudine beetroot with the classic Blanc de Blancs. To finish, an elderflower buttermilk & vanilla mousse with roasted strawberries sat perfectly with the brown butter aromas of Langham’s Rosé. The dinner was enjoyed by candlelight against the dramatic backdrop of the Great Dining Room’s exposed brick and imperfect Palladian panelling.

The evening came to a close with a nightcap around the North Drawing Room fire. In a final moment of quiet reflection, guests retired to their bedrooms beneath a canopy of stars – a testament to St Giles’ setting within an International Dark Sky Reserve.


Photos on this blog by Imogen Xiana

Plan & Concept – St Giles House & Couture Events / Catering – Rhubarb Hospitality Collection / Photographers – Imogen Xiana & Camila Arnhold / Flowers – Martha & the Meadow / Furniture Hire – House of Furn / Stationery Design – Liv Laermann / Stationery Print – Leeming Brothers / Workshop Mediator – Make Work Play / Wine Pairing – Langham Wine Estate / Looping Violinist – Joel Grainger / Production – Cintemattag / Mixologists – Cartails / Candles – Diptyque / Sleep Sets – The White Company

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