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About us

Jo and Gary Arriving Devon Wedding Venue
Jo and Gary Devon Wedding Venue

We are Gary and Joanna, who, five years after meeting in Africa, (both doing VSO), were married on a farm in Kent. He was growing strawberries, apples and pears and she was teaching. It was very much a home-made wedding and we designed our own 5 course wedding lunch menu choosing all our favourite foods. Friends made salad dressings, decorated the packhouse, plonked flowers in painted Marmite jars, poured wine and cleared the tractor shed to make a dancing barn. Live music accompanied our evening barn dance party and we snacked on cheese and snaffled apples from the orchards. We ran away for our first night and returned the next day to ride around the farm on the back of a trailer and then ate the leftovers with our staying-over rellies in the garden. We loved it!
Any regrets? Yes! We didn’t have strawberries for desert! And we lived on a strawberry farm! What fools!

The years (and 3 children) have rolled on and we’ve lived in Nigeria, England, Spain, Portugal, Kenya, England again, France and most recently, Tanzania; with our children when they were young, and without them when they weren’t. Joanna has been teaching and Gary’s been mostly growing fruit, vegetables and flowers. We’ve also run a natural flower petal confetti company (so we know all about confetti) (!) and Gary has added saxophone and bass guitar to the list of instruments he plays. We think we’ve earned both our ‘flexibility’ and ‘creative’ badges!

Since we built the Higher Holcombe farmhouse in 2005, we’ve been hosting all kinds of festivities and special occasions!

Carousing in the courtyard, rocking it up in the Old Dairy (before it was revamped), or gently sipping wine in the meadows or on the slopes – it’s the perfect place for very special occasions! Over the years we’ve transformed the pastureland into woodland glades and with your parties in mind, have renovated the Old Dairy for year-round comfort. We offer you a perfectly secluded countryside canvas with our beautiful barn, maturing woodland and glorious Devon countryside. You? It’s your job to provide the special occasion and to invite the people! We see it as our job to help you plan (and ENJOY) the very special occasions in your life!

So what else are we doing?

In a small way we are trying to keep Higher Holcombe as ‘green’ as possible. It’s doing what most land does well in Devon – growing trees and grass. Since we bought the farm in 2002, we haven’t used any fertiliser on the pasturelands and have slowly planted over 7,000 trees.
This is the biggest contribution to the planet the family have made – all dug and planted by hand – and yes, there is much argument about whose patch is growing best! It becomes quite addictive: watching a slip of a tree develop into a mighty oak. We are talking with Wildlife groups to plant a further 2-3 acres this coming winter. Joanna has spent much time planting wild flowers which we hope will thrive and boost the biodiversity of the woodlands. We’ve see many types of birds plus deer, badgers, foxes, rabbits and squirrels.
We are working on practical ideas and policies to cut down packaging and waste. So far, there is only one rule: no bottled water! The fresh water from our own borehole will taste better than anything you can buy! It is free, and not a scrap of plastic has been involved.
The Old Dairy has just been renovated and fitted with an air-source heat pump to fire up the hot water and the underfloor heating.

Jo & Gary xxx

Get to know us!

Gary Higher Holcombe Team Devon Wedding Venue

GARY

Favourite song: Here, There, Everywhere (Beatles)

Favourite festival: Beautiful Days (Ottery St Mary)

Favourite food: Cheese

Favourite drink: Otter Ale

Favourite trip: Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

Favourite film: Groundhog Day

Jo Higher Holcombe Team Devon Wedding Venue

JOANNA

Favourite song: Drops of Jupiter (Train)

Favourite festival: Sauti Za Busara, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Favourite food: Tangy salad dressing on any kind of salad.

Favourite drink: Strong coffee in the morning;

Chilled Marlborough Sauvignon in the evening.

Favourite trip: Crossing the Sahara in 1981 and climbing the Nyragonga Volcano in DRC in 2017

Favourite film: The Sound of Music (!)

The team

ANNIE-MAE

Annie-Mae first proved her party-prepping mettle as a 6th former planning a ‘show case after party’ involving setting up a festival themed field with music and food for 200 people (in our old dairy). Since then, planning and putting on parties for people has been a passion! Having studied Food Science and Business at university she enjoys food and everything surrounding it: from foraging the fields for fresh fungi to developing a chilli sauce for the East African market.  She’s a country girl through and through and can be found not far away in her Hobbit House to help you with your party-planning needs! 

Favourite song: Days To Come (Bonobo)

Favourite festival: Beautiful Days, Ottery St Mary

Favourite food: Pesto… on everything!

Favourite drink: Frozen Margaritas

Favourite trip: Climbing Mount Meru, Tanzania

Favourite film: Moonrise Kingdom

Annie Mae Higher Holcombe Team Devon Wedding Venue
Annie Mae Higher Holcombe Team Devon Wedding Venue

KIPPER

We first met Kipper when he dug the foundations for the Higher Holcombe farmhouse.  Since then, he’s been the first port of call whenever we’ve had a go at levelling land, making slopes or digging (and then refilling) ponds. He LOVES machinery and has been tending our maturing woodland over the years by mowing between the trees and trimming the hedges! Chain saw jobs?  Kipper’s your man!  We couldn’t have developed anything without him – he’s an essential part of the team!

Favourite machine: 3 tonne Digger

Favourite drink: Tea

Favourite trip: Cruises (anywhere)

Ready to chat?

Higher Holcombe: a unique Devon venue for outdoor and woodland weddings, glamping holidays and countryside retreats

Ottery St Mary, Devon, EX11 1PQ

T: +44 (0) 774 0978 408

E: hello@higherholcombe.co.uk

Charming BARN AND GLAMOROUS GLAMPING FOR WOODLAND FESTIVITIES

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