Clophill Eco Lodges – Sustainable Wedding Venue, Bedfordshire

Venue Review

If you are eco-minded souls that want to plan your wedding more sustainably right from the start, then what better way to kick off the process than looking for a sustainable venue that aligns with your values and ethos! Today I want to share with you a stunning Bedfordshire wedding venue that has ethical and eco values right at its core. Introducing, Clophill Eco Lodges ….

Clophill Eco Lodges is home to this beautiful Old ruined Church, a great sustainable wedding venue backdrop
All photos are by Clare Davis Photography unless otherwise stated

Key features:

  • Awarded Gold by the Green Tourism Awards scheme, a very rigorous assessment of environmental impact and sustainability
  • Incredibly picturesque and natural site with stunning views across Bedfordshire countryside
  • The site includes a breath-taking 11th Century Old Church that is steeped in history
  • 24hr Exclusive hire for weddings
  • Ideal venue for intimate weddings or larger celebrations with up to 100 guests
A unique sustainable wedding ceremony space in Bedfordshire, with the married couple enjoying a quiet moment amongst the church

Location:

As the name suggests, Clophill Eco Lodges are situated in Clophill, a quiet and classically British countryside village in Bedfordshire. Located 10 miles south of Bedford and 50 miles North of London, this venue is easily accessible from all directions via major roads. For any guests coming from further afield, Clophill Eco Lodges are only a 15 minute taxi ride from the closest stations and a 30 minute drive from Luton Airport.

The Lodges themselves are situated half a mile up a private track and are nestled amongst a small collection of Oak trees up upon the Greensand Ridge. This ridge of beautiful and varied habitats stretches across Bedfordshire and the venues location affords it a beautiful view across miles of rolling hills, villages, farmland and woodland; natures mosaic at its finest!

Ceremony:

The venue holds a license for its ceremony room, fondly named ‘The Nest’ due to its large glass front that looks through the treetops towards the village and countryside beyond. This space is ideal for intimate weddings and celebrations and can accommodate 30 people; however for a larger gathering you can arrange to add a marquee onto the courtyard behind The Nest and open the large French doors, extending the space and enabling it to accommodate up to 100 guests whilst still enjoying the ceremony backdrop of the treetops and rolling views.

Alternatively (and rather spectacularly!) St Mary’s Old Church can be hired for your ceremony and provides a truly unique, historical and magical setting. The church roof was stolen in 1956, following which the church fell into disrepair. These ruins were brought back to life and preserved by the Clophill Heritage Trust and can now be used as a ceremony space for blessings or celebrant led ceremonies. Due to the lack of a roof this space cannot be licensed and used for legally binding ceremonies, however you can choose to complete the legal paperwork in The Nest or another licensed premise before continuing your ceremony and celebration in this incredible setting with up to 100 people in attendance.

An independent celebrant conducts a ceremony inside a Sustainable Church Venue in Bedfordshire
Celebrant: Kelly Hawes

A real advantage to this gorgeous sustainable venue is also the team’s openness to creativity and your unique ideas. With a celebrant led ceremony providing you with complete flexibility on where you can get married, the Clophill Eco Lodges team are happy to show you around and see what ideas and options you might have for creating a truly unique ceremony anywhere on site.

A married couple enjoy a laugh together in the trees after their sustainable wedding ceremony

Reception:

Following your ceremony, whether onsite or elsewhere, this eco venue then affords you various reception options too. One option is for a temporary structure to be situated in the meadow space around the church, with many couples choosing to use a particular (more level) area for a marquee which allows you views back across to the church. The possibility of alternative structures such as stretch tents, sperry tents or maybe even a tipi are welcomed by the Clophill Eco Lodges team subject to assessment of the available space and land gradient by the relevant suppliers.

Another option is to use the courtyard space amongst the crescent of lodges to add a temporary structure, with the marquee addition to ‘The Nest’ being the ideal space for continuing the celebrations with your wedding breakfast.  

The flexibility of the Clophill Eco Lodges venue is endless so if you have other ideas for how you’d like to utilise the space, or if you fancy embracing the rich nature of the site with outdoor dining, then they would be all ears and happy to consider the options. If you’d prefer to continue your party elsewhere they also offer a ‘Church Only’ package for your blessing or celebrant ceremony, allowing you to enjoy this unique church opportunity before proceeding to your chosen reception venue.

Sustainability:

So, the name professes that these are ‘Eco Lodges’ but what exactly are the sustainable credentials of this site? Well, whilst many people have not necessarily heard of the Green Tourism Awards, the fact that this venue holds the Gold Level Award says a lot about its true sustainability. The rigorous assessment required for this award includes looking at every detail that goes into the venue, from its construction to its day to day running and maintenance. Possibly even more crucial, the Clophill Eco Lodges team continually strive to improve their sustainability efforts and ethos despite having already been awarded Gold, so there’s no chance of them resting on their laurels here!

Clophill Eco Lodges are self-sustaining for their water supply and heating, with a borehole pumping and treating their own water and a ground source heat pump keeping the lodges and hot water toasty. What’s more, these lodges were designed and carefully built to blend in with their environment and used natural and sustainable materials in their construction. By opting for large glass fronts to the lodges they have not only maximised on the beautiful views but ensured the natural light and warmth from the sun could reduce the need for additional lighting and heating requirements. The only area for which this venue is not ‘off grid’ is their electricity, however they are soon to install solar panels to supplement their existing power and currently source their power from environmentally conscious suppliers.

These wooden sustainable lodges in Bedfordshire provide a great backdrop for wedding photos
The consciously built wooden lodges make great backdrops for photos as well as the surrounding countryside

Another lovely feature of this venue is the fact it is run by a not-for-profit charitable trust, meaning you know your wedding investment is being spent ensuring the future upkeep of this beautiful Church and site as well as the various community, educational and heritage projects the team are involved in. Clophill Heritage Trust was established to protect St Mary’s Old Church and prevent further ruin, and your special celebration will be helping to preserve a piece of history and natural beauty!  

As couples you are allowed to choose your own suppliers to create your celebration at this venue, however the team are happy to advise and recommend based on their experience. With a sustainable ethos at the very core of this Bedfordshire venue, it is preferred that you consider using environmentally conscious wedding suppliers and wherever possible align your decisions with their sustainability mission so that together you can reduce the impact on the beautiful countryside setting.

A couple relax at the church ruins of this unique sustainable wedding venue

Logistics:

Along with all of the beauty of a wedding comes the logistics too. Here are some details and additional pieces of information to consider:

  • On-site parking is available for 20-30 cars and the track up to the site is narrow and uneven in places
  • Catering teams and all kitchen facilities or food trucks need to be hired in
  • Toilet facilities must be hired in
  • Chairs, tables and other furniture need to be hired in (although some are included for the ceremony depending on the package chosen and the size of your celebration)
  • Whilst there is power to the church which is ideal for a sound system and some lighting during ceremonies, a generator is needed to supply power to any temporary structure you choose to bring in and all hired in additions (i.e. toilets, catering facilities)
  • The church is a ruin with no roof, therefore weather considerations for your ceremony and reception are required (there’s no predicting the great British weather!)
  • With the history of the church comes the need to respect and preserve this building, therefore nothing can be fixed to the stonework (but creative forward planning with a planner and stylist can help with this)
  • 2 wardens from the site will be present throughout the day to help with venue related aspects and logistics, however it is advisable to enlist additional support from a planner for on the day co-ordination or additional planning support throughout the journey should you wish.

Accessibility:

Clophill Eco Lodges is an accessible venue. The site is situated on a hill therefore not all areas are flat, however there are well-laid paths into the church and around the lodges themselves making it suitable for wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

An accessible toilet is located in ‘The Nest’ and can be used by any guests who require this throughout your celebration. In addition, one of the accommodation lodges is fully accessible with a wet room and mobility guides as well as a dedicated accessible parking space immediately next to it for use throughout your celebration/stay.

Accommodation:

Included within the 24 hour exclusive hire option at this venue is one night in the eco lodges themselves. These 4 lodges sleep up to 17 people and are the perfect retreat for yourselves and your nearest and dearest after a day of joy and celebrations. Relaxing, beautifully designed and with great views, these lodges also make the ideal spaces for your wedding morning preparations and for guests travelling from afar to freshen up before your celebrations begin. Should you wish there is the option to also book to stay the night before (if availability allows) and breakfast hampers or service in The Nest can be added on too.

For additional guests that wish to stay nearby there are ample guest houses and hotels within easy reach, or for your more adventurous guests there are local campsite and glampsite options too.

Little Extras:

Some exciting extra features of this venue space that deserve a mention are:

  • The Tower – Accessed by a tight spiral staircase, an ascent to the top of the church tower provides amazing views of the surrounding countryside and is fantastic for some unique photo opportunities. Yourselves and small groups of your guests can be guided up the tower, however heels aren’t advisable for this and it is worth considering how delicate fabrics will fair against the stone walls of the staircase (they’ve had many a wedding dress hitched up or creatively gathered into a bag to make the climb possible!)
  • Set down in the dip with a view up to the lodges, the site has its own fire pit perfect for a post-wedding chill and star gaze complete with marshmallow toasting. Alternatively, if you choose to add on the option of staying the night before, why not get a food truck in for a small fireside gathering and rehearsal dinner with a difference!

I just love the ethos, unique opportunities and quirks of this amazing venue space and I’m sure you will too. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch for a viewing, or check the site and surrounding area out with a short stay in the lodges then please pop over to their website.

If you love this venue and want to discuss your ideas and vision for your celebration and see how my planning services could help to make them a reality then get in touch today, I will never tire of talking about the amazing ways this site could be used!

All photos are by Clare Davis Photography unless otherwise stated. This shoot was created by the following amazing team // Photography: Clare Davis Photography // Venue: Clophill Eco Lodges // Planning & Initial Concept : Green Soul Weddings // Styling & Concept Design: The White Emporium // Furniture Hire: Nikkita Palmer Designs // Cutlery and Glassware Hire: Wren Ark // Florist: Flowers at Fifty Eight // Ribbons: Bertie and Fred // Celebrant: Kelly H Celebrant // Cake: Two Little Cats Bakery // Stationery: Luna and Sol // Suit: The Vintage Suit Hire Co // Dress: Lisa Lyons Bridal // Barefoot sandals: Ellie’s Little Gems // Earrings: Love From Becky // Hair: Kate Atalay Bespoke Hairstyling // Makeup tutorial & application guidance: Ali Kynoch Makeup Artist // Marquee structure: Marquees with Pryde // Drone photography: Adam Goldstein // Models: Kirstie & Jason

- Hannah -

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