There's something distinctly British about a lawn - an expanse of beautifully manicured and glaringly green grass, which does absolutely nothing but provide a comfortingly and reassuringly uncomplicated space with no particular purpose whatsoever.
I remember when my dad developed a golf resort in Cheshire and despite the five star hotel lodges (at least twenty years before their time), the spa in which my mum once found herself in the Jacuzzi with David Beckham and Michael Owen, the world's most dramatic and over the top shooting lodge and several other earth shattering USPs, his pride and joy was still 'the world's biggest croquet lawn'. In reality it was a huge, ridiculous and exceedingly high maintenance way of making a gloriously pointless statement - mainly because hardly anyone cares about croquet. It was all about the aesthetics though - a vast expanse of several acres of spirit-level-flat and impossibly green billiards table baize lawn. Immaculate for the sheer hell of it and underscoring a magnificent view towards the Welsh hills beyond. Of course, the world's largest croquet lawn wasn't viable and when it was sold the new owners did the obvious thing and built another hotel on it. But there was something magical about this vast and simplistically beautiful lawn and, in many ways, that tranquil four-acre green sea (ocean) of grass was the defining and enduring symbol of the entire resort. And the England football team practiced for Euro ’96 on it!
Indeed, the resurgent craving for lawn culture is finding its way into London's event-land too. From secret courtyard gardens to the most sophisticated soil-less (and therefore dry) felt fuelled (don't ask me the science bit) indoor turf, lawns are kind of a big deal this summer. Festival culture has swept the UK and we're seeing more and more events embracing this bohemian, all inclusive, more relaxed approach - street food, deckchairs, game-stalls, live jazz, Pimms tricycles, even bunting - they all combine to create the ultimate new-age village fete atmosphere resulting in a calm, tranquil and peaceful summer environment in which your guests can immerse themselves...
But above all, there's something distinctly British about a party on a lawn. Come rain or shine. Few scenarios beat the sweet scent of freshly cut grass and the cool, crisp taste of Champagne in a gentle and reassuringly warm summer breeze...
So, taking all that on board, think 'Henley Regatta' without the boats. In other words think 'Henley Regatta' (because unless you're a hard-core enthusiast, you'll barely see a boat!). There's a trend in London this year for recreating the distinct nuances of Leander or the Stewards Enclosure, which is, if you think about it, the pinnacle of sophisticated British summer parties.
Why not celebrate the only upside of global warming and embrace the Great British Summer on one of our top 10 London lawns?
1. The Lawn at the Tower Hotel. As one of London's newest event spaces, the Lawn at The Tower is a 'must-see' location for two reasons. Firstly, it's a wonderful riverside event space for a barbecue for up to 150 guests and, secondly, it has the most dramatic and iconic backdrop of any event location, anywhere in the world - Tower Bridge. (Beat that!). With retro camper van food stations, live music and a beautiful lawn, this venue really is almost unbeatable for your corporate summer party - check it out and be one of the first to enjoy it!
2. Crowne Plaza Kensington. This huge London lawn is a large secret garden oasis of calm just off the bustling Crowmwell road in Kensington. With enough lawn space for a game of 5 a side football and an open sided tented structure for shelter, this large scale walled garden is a gem well worth discovering this summer...(and you can do just that at our Sumer Showcase on June 3rd!)
3. Blenheim Palace. A little further out of town than Hampton Court (but not as far away as you think at just over an hour on a clear run), Blenheim Palace is undoubtably one of the finest private residences in the world. Everything about this sensationally beautiful and manicured estate will fill your guest's hearts with inspiration whilst associating your brand with somewhere almost impossibly majestic. Their beautiful lawns and the magnificent Orangery event space will combine to ensure you achieve the most memorable of corporate summer parties. If it's style you're seeking, then Blenheim is the ultimate place to be.
4. West Wycombe Park. About half way to Blenheim along the M40, there's another Stately Home, made famous by the world-class E.J Churchill shooting ground, which is based on the estate. With sweeping lawns and a stunning neo-classical backdrop, just outside the M25, West Wycombe Park serves up all the attributes of a splendid summer event. What's more, the (distinguished and dashingly named) owner, Sir Edward Dashwood, once told me "You can do anything you like with my house - you can even paint it pink! As long as it's not pink when I wake up the next morning!" Alright then!
5. Gilwell Park. Set in over 100 acres on the edge of Epping Forest, Gilwell Park is owned by the Scouts Association and so is the ideal destination for both indoor and outdoor summer events and team-building activities. With the central White House as the magnificent backdrop, a summer reception on the lawn preceded by a wide variety of world-beating team-building activities (from rock climbing to raft building) is possibly this summer's ultimate event at London's most professional and affordable outdoor adventure centre.
6. Harrow School. Harrow is famous for a lot of things and there are so many reasons to host a summer event at this internationally renowned and globally revered heritage destination. One such reason is that it’s the summer holidays so the Schoolboys won’t be there! Another is their elevated lawn, which has one of the most magnificent views of the London skyline. Perfect for summer drinks receptions and weddings, this commanding and immaculate lawn sits dramatically in the Harrow hill-side overlooking the valley golf course directly below, with Wembley Stadium in the foreground and the towering Cityscape exactly ten miles beyond...
7. Osea Island. A truly magical and still delightfully secret hideaway just north of the Thames Estuary near Malden and just beyond the M25. Osea Island is the event industry equivalent of Narnia. It's not so much a magical place as it is a magical world, seemingly un-spoilt since the US Navy built the world's most aesthetic torpedo base there during the Second World War (check out their new bomb factory event space). The timeless American style colonial timber-framed village at the heart of the island provides plenty of accommodation, as does the historic Manor House, which sits behind the great lawn just beyond the beach and the crystal clear waters beyond...
8. Nazeing Park. A stately home in miniature, Nazeing Park is a beautiful Georgian house on a manageable scale, which is perfect for Champagne receptions on the sweeping lawn as well as team-building, weddings and corporate summer parties. Owned by the famous Billy Smart's Circus family, Nazeing Park is full of surprises, from carousel horses to oil paintings of circus acts - the perfect location for circus themed summer parties on the lawn. You could even pitch a tent in the garden (I mean a Big Top, of course!)
9. Ravens Ait Island. There's something magical about discovering a little island in the middle of a river, which is only accessible by boat, but Raven's Ait is a whole new league of awesome! It's a beautifully summery and picturesque (not so little) hide-away, nestled in the middle of the Thames between Kingston and Hampton Court, shrouded in its own secret oasis, shielded and secluded in its own little luscious world. With a capacity of up to 400 guests, Raven's Ait has extensive internal space as well as expansive front lawns, making it the perfect place to surprise and delight your (utterly spellbound) guests!
10. The Drum at Wembley. Located within London's greenest building and situated in the sparklingly new Wembley village (if you haven't been there, check it out!) The Drum is an inspirational new venue with an impressive 6000 square metre garden and, with its dedicated spherical event spaces, it's definitely worth considering for hi-tech events of all kinds. What's more, with such a lovely modern lawn and garden area, The Drum combines the best of both indoor and outdoor worlds, in dramatic (actually Drum-atic!) style.