Barton Court is a period Georgian house with outbuildings on the outskirts of Colwall, midway between Ledbury and Malvern, that was once the heart of a large estate going back to mediaeval times.

Called by many, ‘Herefordshire’s hidden gem’, it is a chronicle of English social history, with all its quirks and foibles, over the last thousand years.

James and Linda Meyer bought it, in a dilapidated and unloved condition, in 2015 and have worked steadily since then to restore this magical property and to give it purpose. ‘The house comes alive when there are lots of people milling around’, says Linda. They, themselves, just have one son, Oscar, and a dog, so the spacious 13000 square feet house is more than they need.

The original idea had been to turn the estate into a destination wedding venue. This plan was thwarted by the pandemic, and gave the Meyers time to rethink their strategy. Barton Court had to pay its way, but it became important to them that it resumed its place in the local community.

So they opened a cafe in one of the stables, and called it The Loose Box as a nod to Linda’s favourite London wine bar in the 60s. Serving great coffee from a local roaster, James’ Gourmet Coffee, and delicious cakes from three, now four, small cake making companies, the Loose Box has become the rural, non alcoholic version of Cheers: a place where everyone knows your name. And, where the staff have time to chat to you.

Sadly, the cafe alone cannot bring in sufficient revenue to keep Barton Court going. The upkeep is supported by some of the workshops, classes and events that happen here. There is a thriving wellness profile centred in the Saw Mill and Dutch Barn. Kirsty Dunstall of Malvern Pilates has created an impressive practice here with 100 people a week coming to her classes and more on the waiting list. She has been joined recently by a yoga teacher, Fiona of Strength and Flow Yoga.

Other disciplines dip in and out. On the Winter Solstice, 21st December, there is a gong bath and meditation session hosted by Alix Jones and Angie Latham, which was booked out as soon as it was advertised. They have had ice bath sessions and are beginning to host cookery sessions with an accent on sustainability and health now that Alexander Mcallister-Lunt, the Force of Nature chef, has joined the team.

On a less health-oriented note, they are delighted to have the Colwall Classic Car meet at Barton Court every last Thursday of the month. It is a free event [although they would appreciate it if everyone bought a coffee] and has become something of a cult gathering. They have some splendid vehicles there.

Going forward, much as they would love to run the house on the lines of a National Trust property, open a couple of days a month and serving the odd cream tea, they have to make Barton Court financially viable to continue the refurbishment and to enable it to be accessible to the wider community.

So they have decided to go back to hosting weddings. Their partners in this – and the large ‘events’ side of the business – are Epic Caterers. They are well named as far as James and Linda are concerned [their food really is epic] and their view has been endorsed by the public as they have just been voted best wedding caterer 2023.

“We feel confident that any wedding held here will be in safe hands with their exceptional professionalism and style,” James and Linda said.

Quite separate from the weddings, the main house and some of the refurbished outbuildings – the romantic Clock Tower and the Coach House – are available for short-term rental for holidays and corporate events.

James and Linda are also very interested in any other recreational, educational or wellness activities that may suit the Saw Mill and the Dutch Barn.


11th November – The Force of Nature Chef

10am - 1pm – Workshop on making edible Christmas Gifts

1.30pm - 5pm – Working on making miso, shio koji and amazake - Japanese wonderfoods

12th November – in collaboration with Epic Caterers and lots of wonderful suppliers

11am - 3pm – Open Day for anyone thinking of a wedding, corporate or special event here

24th November, 4pm – 8pm Christmas Market

25th November, 9:30am - 5pm – Christmas Market

The market has more than 30 different stalls. There will be music, lights and great food in the Loose Box

24th November, 4pm - 8pm – Father Christmas in the Clock Tower

25th November, 9:30am - 5pm – Father Christmas in the Clock Tower

The real Father Christmas comes to visit every year and stays in the magical Clock Tower before his big event. He welcomes all children to visit him, with their families, in the sitting room where he puts his feet up. The children get a present from the tree and a wrapped gift.

£10 each child

13, 15, 17th December – Christmas Lunch in the Engine Room

Arrive at 12:30 for drinks and then sit down to a slap-up three-course Christmas lunch in one of our most romantic barns. Numbers are limited. Price is £29.50 per head

14, 16 December – Christmas Party in the Saw Mill and Dutch Barn

In collaboration with Epice Caterers, this will be a fantastic Christmas party with a live DJ, excellent food, great venue and a festive vibe. £65 per head

21st December – Winter Solstice. With Alix Jones and Angie Latham. The event is sold out but there is a waiting list and, if numbers dictate, they will hold another session.