Angel, thanks for talking with Vintage Life! Tell us about Escape to the Chateau…
Well, it’s about our family going on a bit of an adventure and starting a new life in France. My husband Dick and I fell in love with the idea of France on a romantic holiday in 2011. Good food, good wine… smelling the roses! We wanted it every day! Dick is a countryman and needs to be near nature, whereas I’m a city girl. If we’d have moved to the English countryside I would miss London too much! But, swapping our 2 bedroom flat for an incredible chateau makes up for everything!
The show is our journey from finding and moving in to renovating parts of the gorgeous 19th-century building over the course of 10 months, and ending with our wedding day. We moved in with no water, electricity or sewage. Add to that the rather tight deadline we naively set ourselves to be ready for our wedding and it was certainly a challenge!
Why did you decide to complete such a large project?
We are doers and Dick and I have never done anything by halves! When we found Chateau-de-la Motte Husson, our hearts nearly jumped out of our mouths. It was perfect and the place was full of vintage treasures; it needed to be brought back to life!
How long did the restoration take?
Ha ha – we will probably be doing this forever. We have 45 rooms and probably a third are finished, a third have been started, and a third have their doors shut! My guess is that when we get round to the final rooms, we will start again! When you take on a project like this you are creating a lifetime of work.
What first drew you to the 19th century building?
Dick and I had been looking for a chateau for years and by this time we knew exactly what we wanted. Dick always dreamt of a moat and a walled garden, and I always dreamt of somewhere jaw-dropping with turrets to host vintage weddings. Oh, and an orangery. When your list gets this big, why not add on an orangery?! When we found this place, although tired, it was perfect.
Can you describe the décor and the inspiration behind it?
I’ve kept very honest to what I do. Everything where possible is as it was, albeit sanded, filled, painted or stained to bring the interior back to life. But then my style, which I think has always been reflected in the Vintage Tea Party book series, is rather curious. We have butterflies flying through the house, unicorns, a wolf, a giraffe, lots of circus memorabilia… I like old things as you can tell!
Has it been difficult to adjust to life in another country?
There’s definitely been a few challenges! Even little things like having the confidence to drive with my two children was hard at first. Everything you take for granted and do on a daily basis becomes a bit of an adventure. Once you’ve done it though, you feel rather proud of yourself!
The Chateau will offer vintage weddings, how did this come about?
It’s been my dream for years to focus The Vintage Patisserie on weddings but I needed a fairytale wedding venue that I could put my mark on! My husband, who is known for his incredible culinary skills, is now part of our offering and together we are a pretty strong duo. We are doing what we love!
You were the first couple to get married at the Chateau, can you describe your wedding?
We had a ‘wedfest’! A three-day wedding with an eight-course wedding breakfast in the orangery on day one. On day two we had high tea and vintage games in the orangery, an enchanted forest hunt for the kids, a vintage hair salon in the honeymoon suite, a games room with coconut shy, hoopla etc., and a cinema! Followed by dancing and a lot of alcohol. A lot of alcohol! Day three was much more relaxed… boule and hangovers!
Where can Vintage Life readers find out more about the Chateau?
What are your upcoming plans?
To carry on bringing this place back to life and to keep smiling.
Watch Angel and Dick in Escape to the Chateau, Channel 4, Sunday 12th and 19th June, at 7pm.