Rockbeare Manor - a little piece of history

If you’ve attended an event at Rockbeare Manor, you will know how perfect it is for weddings and special celebrations. The combination of attentive service, delicious food and picturesque scenery is sure to make for a memorable occasion. But what is most charming about holding your wedding at Rockbeare Manor is that you bring history to life while creating your own special memories.

The Manor is steeped in history. Initially built for an Exeter woollen merchant and banker, Sir John Duntze, it eventually made its way through the generations of the Nation family for 160 years, passing into the hands of Caroline Patricia Griffith-Williams. Caroline later married Mr Gerard Noel Esq. and, unbeknown to them at the time, held the first of many marital celebrations at Rockbeare Manor. Caroline and Gerard built a happy family home and found themselves at the heart of the community in the village of Rockbeare, often hosting meets and garden parties for the local residents.

Lovingly restored with its history in mind, Rockbeare Manor still contains many original features and sentimental charm, keeping its beloved history alive. Caroline’s mother, Delia Follett commissioned a local Exeter theatre company to craft the magnificent décor in the Drawing Room, which remains largely as it was in 1920 when it was created, complete with the most intricate trompe l’oeil (French phrase meaning ‘deceives the eye’ used to describe paintings that create the illusion of a real object or scene).

 Drawing Room at Rockbeare Manor

Affording panoramic views of the beautiful Devonshire countryside from the impressive balcony, you can easily lose yourself in its regal charm. It’s also a unique backdrop for capturing the perfect photographs of the newlyweds or even to throw your bouquet!

One of the most significant rooms of the house is the Dining Room with the tremendous crystal chandelier as the focal point. Mr Noel acquired the chandelier from one of the other family Estates, Riddlesworth Hall in Norfolk, which in 1946 was converted to a well-regarded school and later attended by Lady Diana Spencer.

Chandelier in the Dining Room at Rockbeare Manor

The Dining Room was once a place for the family to begin and end their day together and it is now one of our key ceremony locations, where friends and family gather for the most special moment of the wedding day.  Not losing touch with its history, the room is also used for breakfast, where guests staying overnight dine at a large oval table, reliving yesterday’s celebrations.

When you walk through Rockbeare Manor you will find original pieces such as grand mirrors, a sweeping staircase and the statue of Sir William Webb Follett (born 2 December 1796 in Topsham – 28 June 1845) who lived at Rockbeare Manor, and was an English lawyer and politician who served as MP for Exeter (1835 – 1845).  He served twice as Solicitor-General, in 1834-5 and 1841 and as Attorney-General in 1844. He was knighted in 1835 and was reputed to have been the “greatest advocate of the century”.  

Sir William Webb Follett

What is most heart-warming about Rockbeare Manor today is that it remains close to the family. Mr Noel, who lives on the outskirts of the estate, often visits the Manor and if you happen to bump into him he will no doubt give you an insight into the history, along with the happy family memories that the Manor holds for him. Back in 2017 we hosted Mr Noel's 90th birthday, where 160 of his friends and family gathered for a celebration lunch in our Ballroom. The positive response and well-wishes that we received for the next chapter in the story of Rockbeare Manor really solidified the importance of giving the loving family home a new lease of life.

Rockbeare Manor is not just a beautiful wedding and special events venue, it is a little piece of history nestled in the Devonshire countryside.

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