A COUPLE hope giving their historic barn a new lease of life will tempt romantic lovebirds to tie the knot there.

Christopher and Sophie Barr, of Steeple Bumpstead, bought Old Hall in 1999 and spent 20 years turning the property into their family home.

They now have plans to revamp the grade two listed barn there to offer a stunning wedding venue and Christmas tree shop and bauble barn.

Mr Barr, 57, says he hopes to be able to grow Christmas trees on the site as part of another long-term project.

“We hope to have the bauble barn up and running by this October.” he said.

“We have done a photo-shoot of what the wedding barn will look like and are very encouraged by the results.

“Hopefully that will be ready for next summer.

“The wedding barn will utilise some of the farmyard and the paddock in front of the barn – hopefully it will be great setting for perhaps 15 weddings a year.

“The wedding barn will be different in that it will be reasonably low key and will allow a reasonable degree of customisation by the bride and groom.”

Mrs Barr has worked in retail for 15 years and the couple have friends who are in the Christmas business, who encouraged them with their ideas.

Mr Barr added: “Having visited a number of wedding barns that offer weddings all year round we were conscious of the level of investment and space required for an all-year-round venue.

“We don’t think that we have the space to compete at that level and considered the level of investment a high-risk proposition, so the idea of a Christmas business between October and December and a wedding business between April September seemed workable.

“The Christmas venture will be much more than an outlet for just Christmas trees.

“Sophie has a great eye for detail and fashion, and will make the Christmas Bauble Barn a venue that people will want to come to.

“She is passionate about the look that she wants to create.”

The couple have been keen to create a new purpose for the barn again, and their children Georgina, 28, Emma, 26, and Felix, 21, were also interested in a family enterprise.

Mr Barr added: “Although we have known for quite a few years that we would create a purpose for the barn again, we were not certain which route we would take – we have considered a number of other options.

“The current concept was born out of input from the family, a keen desire to use the barn purposefully and the desire to preserve the integrity of the whole property, rather than developing the barn and isolating it from the farmhouse.

“It will serve the local area and hopefully employ quite a few local people – at least on a part-time basis.”