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The second in my series of top North Norfolk wedding venues and wedding suppliers, this time I’m featuring the iconic Cley Windmill or Cley Mill as it’s known to close friends. Managed by Simon Whatling and the team, Cley Mill is set in the beautiful yet windswept North Norfolk village of Cley-Next-The-Sea (although with the tidal flooding in recent months it could have been renamed Cley-In-The-Sea).
Not only is the mill a stunning looking building it is surrounded by the world-famous reed beds and overlooks the saltmarshes of Cley, owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the area is listed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to the vast numbers of birds it attracts.
Earlier today I took a drive along the coast road from my office in Sheringham to chat with Simon (pictured below) about the mill and what makes it one of the top wedding venues in Norfolk. Clearly getting married in a windmill is going to be an unforgettable experience and Simon and his team ensure that every wedding they host gets the personal touch, priding themselves on their friendly, local staff. They provide in-house catering and bar service and I can tell you from first hand experience on many occasions that the food is fantastic!
From the melt-in-the-mouth fresh, homemade scones to the mouthwatering canapes and full menu offered most evenings, their chefs have built a fantastic reputation as a place to dine out in North Norfolk.
Cley Mill can sleep 20 guests in the very tastefully furnished rooms, my favourite room is The Wheel Room (shown below), a split level room with en suite above. The Wheel Room is situated at the very top of the mill which can only be accessed via the wooden step ladder leading through a hatch. I wouldn’t fancy navigating the steps after too many drinks but it must be fantastic to sleep up there in a Northerly gale when the building moves and ‘talks’ as Simon puts it!
The mill is licensed for wedding services for a maximum of 22 guests (including the bride & groom) so weddings at Cley Mill are always going to be an intimate affair. The dining capacity is 24 people in the ground floor dining room or 40+ people if you opted to have a marquee in the garden. Their wedding rates for 2014/15 are from £695-£840 for the wedding service and accommodation ranges from £159-£199.
From a wedding photography point of view Cley Mill is in a superb location. The elevated balcony (pictured below) which runs right around the outside of the mill allows amazing views across the marshes. The grounds of the mill feature a lovely walled garden and the mill is in the heart of Cley village which can make for a great backdrop for some romantic shots of just the two of you.
As long as the weather is on our side and we have enough time it’s great to go for a wander in the village with wedding couples, we always find something different to photograph and I love the opportunity to get creative using the various doorways, shopfronts and other features we find on our travels.
As the mill is only a mile’s drive from Cley’s shingle beach, if we have time, and the couple are up for it, we’ll bundle in a car and head down there for some more shots…
One recent Cley Mill wedding couple decided to take their guests to the beach in a vintage bus for a wedding breakfast of fish’n’chips & real ale, great idea (and luckily the weather wasn’t too bad)!…
When photographing weddings at Cley Mill during late October and early February I’ve noticed the mill always seems to be a bit more crowded, in fact it hosts thousands of guests each evening, on the sails of the mill, they never stop chattering and can leave behind quite a mess but they are fascinating to watch. Below are a few of them taking up their positions!
So how about some Cley Mill trivia? The foundations of the mill were laid in 1713 and it was a working mill until 1917. In 1921 the Blount family took over the mill and converted it to accommodation. The Blount family generations owned and lived at the mill until as recently as 2007, with the last of the Blounts being the parents of successful musician James Blunt (not sure why he dropped the ‘o’). Elizabeth Taylor has stayed and filmed at the mill, musician Rick Wakeman was married there and the mill is seen in the opening sequence of the new 2014 BBC CBeebies series ‘Grandpa in my pocket’.
Personally I really enjoy photographing weddings at Cley Mill, it’s such a friendly and photogenic place, for more information please see the mill website or contact Simon, (who is kind enough to recommend me and my Norfolk wedding photography as one of their preferred suppliers).
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