Sneak peek: New owners refurbish The Old Deanery in Ripon


Last updated Feb 5, 2022
Chris Layton and Rebecca Hill are the new business owners.

The new owners of The Old Deanery are set to be the first couple to have their wedding at the venue after completing the first phase of a major refurbishment.

It is a new chapter for the Grade II* listed mansion. The venue has sat in the shadow of Ripon Cathedral since it was built in 1625.

Chris Layton and Rebecca Hill, who also own the Galtres Lodge Hotel in York, took on the business in August 2021.

The previous owners closed the business in June 2020 due to coronavirus. That closure came as a major blow for the city with countless memories attached to the building.

Where couples will have their wedding breakfast. Photo: Tim Hardy

So with news of new owners came a lot of interest from locals curious about Chris and Rebecca’s plan for the place.

While they are open-minded about how The Old Deanery will operate in future, they have put the restaurant and hotel side of the business on hold to focus on weddings and events.

The new owners have been busy refurbishing and redecorating the venue since they took it on last summer.

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The Old Deanery will look quite different to how people remember the venue. The couple have brought out the original features of the building where they can and opted for a more neutral colour palette.

A new look for The Old Deanery.

Mr Layton and Ms Hill told the Stray Ferret:

“We do most of the work ourselves so we don’t have to decide on a vision for the place straight away and it evolves naturally. In a way the place tells you what it wants.

“By no means is the renovation over. We are looking at orangeries, oak garages for the drive and a library. All of the things that would have gone with a big stately home.

“We want this to be part of the community. That is why we are opening as more of an events venue than a hotel.”

Lewis Carroll was apparently inspired to write Alice in Wonderland during his time in the garden here.

The first wedding at the new Old Deanery

It is now ready for its first wedding of the new era later this month — which just so happens to be the wedding of Mr Layton and Ms Hill. Rebecca added:

“We have been engaged a while. With a big chunk of coronavirus in the middle you can forget how much time has passed.

“Chris wanted to get married in our own place but our venue in York was too small.

“We only decided before Christmas to get married here so we didn’t have long to plan it but everybody we wanted just happened to be available. It all just fell into place when we found The Old Deanery.”

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