Historic training venues: Learning while in the past

If you want your training event to make a lasting impression, then holding it at a historic location may do the trick. From old manor houses and castles to stately homes and country retreats, Training and Coaching Today has picked out eight historic training venues from around the UK to whet your appetite.

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Culzean Castle & Country Park

Location: Overlooking the Isle of Arran, the castle is 12 miles from Ayr and Prestwick airport.
Website: www.culzeanexperience.org
The main conference room can accommodate up to 120 delegates theatre-style and 60 delegates boardroom style. Integrated projection and slide show systems are available. The 250 hectares of park can be used for team-building activities.
Parking: 120 spaces.
Rate: From £25 per day per delegate, including teas, coffee and lunch.
Accommodation: The venue includes the exclusive Eisenhower Apartments, comprising six bedrooms within the castle, costing from £185 per person, per night. There are also five three-star holiday cottages, which sleep up to 14 people, from £125 per person based on a minimum three-night stay.
Dinner menu: Includes grilled Girvan scallops, roast sirloin of beef, and raspberry cranachan. From £25 per person.
History: The first written reference to a Tower House at Culzean dates to the 1400s, but the current National Trust for Scotland property was converted by architect Robert Adam between 1777 and 1792, and is famous for its oval staircase.


Weetwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel

Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Website: www.weetwood.co.uk
Facilities: There are 37 dedicated conference/syndicate rooms, the largest seating 180 people. ADSL, wi-fi broadband and video conferencing are available.
Parking: 170 spaces.
Accommodation: The hotel has 106 en-suite bedrooms.
Rate: Weekdays’ 24-hour rate is £160 per person. At weekends, the rate is £112 per person.
Dinner menu: A full range of meat and vegetarian dishes are available with nut/wheat/gluten-free options on request.
History: The venue’s most historic element is its manor house, which dates back to the mid-16th century and includes a Jacobean-style boardroom. The stone mullioned windows to the rear date back to around 1540, while several of the ceilings include decorative plasterwork brought to England during the reign of Henry VIII. About 400 years of private ownership by leading Yorkshire families have also left their mark, such as the Lion of England, rose and thistle designs added in the 1600s.


Greater London
Osterley Park

Location: Middlesex
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hiring
Facilities: The entrance hall holds 80 people theatre-style, while the Long Gallery has capacity for 50. Overhead projector and LCD screen available.
Parking: 200 spaces.
Accommodation: The nearest hotels can be found at Heathrow, 15 minutes away.
Rate: Room hire from £600.
Dinner menu: External caterers will design a bespoke package using locally produced seasonal food.
History: In 1761, the founders of Child’s Bank commissioned Scottish architect Robert Adam to transform a crumbling Tudor mansion into an elegant neo-classical villa. This was to be the Child’s house in the country, created for entertainment and to impress friends and business associates. Osterley Park sits on an internationally renowned estate with 350 acres of historic park and farmland.


The Midlands
Highgate House

: Creaton near Northampton.
Website: http://www.sundialgroup.com/
Facilities: Together all meeting rooms can hold up to 884 delegates. Wi-fi, data projector, flip charts, TV, video and white board all available.
Parking: 200 spaces.
Accommodation: 98 bedrooms – all en-suite.
Rate: 24-hour meetings rate is £182 (+VAT) per person.
Dinner menu: Three courses with a choice of three options for each course with seasonal menus that are prepared weekly.
History: Located just three miles from the site of the 1645 Battle of Naseby, Highgate House was built in 1663 during the restoration of Charles II, originally as a farmstead and inn. In 1721, the road on which it stood achieved turnpike status, and the building became an important coaching and posting station and meeting place. A coaching station for 200 years, it stood on the Royal Mail routes from London to Holyhead and Liverpool.


Twyn yr Hydd

Location: Margam Park, which overlooks Swansea Bay.
Website: http://www.trainingwales.com/
Of the venue’s six meeting rooms, the largest is the Penrice Room, which can hold 30 people conference-style and 65 theatre-style. Each room includes interactive smart boards, wireless internet access and laptops. Country pursuits such as archery and air-rifle shooting in more than 1,000 acres of parkland make this a suitable venue for team building.
Parking: 48 spaces.
Accommodation: No, but the venue offers preferential rates with a local three-star hotel.
Rate: Prices vary and are quoted on application, depending on requirements, numbers and catering.
Dinner menu: Buffet-style catering with healthy options.
History: This elegant Victorian Grade II listed house was built by Edward Knox more than 150 years ago, and is now the only conference venue in south-west Wales in 2007 to have achieved platinum status for its conference facilities awarded by Visit Wales. The grounds include a walled garden. Today they are used by students at Neath Port Talbot College studying horticulture.


The East of England
Wimpole Hall

Location: Near Royston in Cambridgeshire.
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hiring
Facilities: The main room can accommodate 100 people theatre-style, while two smaller additional rooms can each seat 20 delegates cabaret-style. Overhead projector and LCD screen available.
Parking: 500 spaces.
Rate: Room hire from £1,500 (+VAT).
Accommodation: The nearest hotels are 10 minutes away in Royston.
Dinner menu: A four-course Victorian-themed meal using meat and produce from Wimpole Farm and Estate can include: salad of locally smoked fish, locally smoked Gressingham Duck served with a plum compote, or roast Wimpole lamb with seasonal vegetables.
History: Wimpole Hall is Cambridgeshire’s largest and grandest Georgian mansion and, during its heyday, Lord Harley entertained a glittering circle of writers, musicians and artists. It was also the home of Elsie Bambridge, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, who helped to restore the house to its former glory.


The South West
Pendennis Castle

Location: Falmouth, Cornwall.
Website: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Facilities: The Royal Artillery Barracks within the castle walls has three training rooms, with the largest holding 89 people theatre-style. Use of a multimedia projector and screen, flipcharts and OHP is included in the room hire.
Parking: 70 spaces
Rate: Room hire rates from 9am-5pm, Mondays to Fridays start at £250 (+VAT).
Accommodation: Pendennis Castle is non-residential, but there is a wide choice of hotels in and around Falmouth.
Dinner menu: English Heritage provides a list of accredited caterers, selected – it says – for the high quality of their food and service, who can provide a range of dining options in the Royal Artillery Barracks.
History: Pendennis Castle faces St Mawes Castle across the mouth of Falmouth Harbour. Between them their cannons could cover the entire entrance to the Fal estuary. The castles were constructed between 1540-45 in the time of Henry VIII, who demanded a chain of castles be built along the south coast.


The Home Counties
Basildon Park

Location: Near Reading in Berkshire
Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Facilities: The Grand Hall seats 70 people theatre-style, while the Lower Hall room has capacity for 50. Overhead projector and LCD screen available.
Parking: 300 spaces
Rate: Room hire from £1,500 (+VAT).
Accommodation: The nearest hotels are five minutes away in Pangbourne and Streatley.
Dinner menu: External caterers will design a bespoke package using locally produced, seasonal food.
History: Built between 1776 and 1783, Basildon Park was the home of Sir Francis Sykes, who made his fortune in India. Today, Basildon illustrates the high life of the 18th century, and was used as a location in the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. Its elegant interiors were lovingly restored by Lord and Lady Illiffe in the 1950s, and it boasts impressive original features as well as a fine collection of period paintings, furniture and textiles.

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