An Eccentric Private Party To Celebrate the 400th Birthday of This Country Estate
"Aynhoe Park is not just another private country estate." This simple sentence cannot ring truer. There is no an emoji or sentence that can describe the magic of this 250 acre Oxfordshire dream. It is a place where one can...
by Cortnie Fausner

"Aynhoe Park is not just another private country estate." This simple sentence cannot ring truer. There is no an emoji or sentence that can describe the magic of this 250 acre Oxfordshire dream. It is a place where one can almost expect to see Lewis Carroll's, The White Rabbit, hopping about in his dapper waistcoat as he leads you to the mystical rabbit hole. The kind of place where you are whisked away into a far away wonderland filled with silly characters, mad hatter tea parties and royal gardens. 

The stately home is "a house of stories and surprises - a place where the extraordinary happens every day." 

Photography By: Barker Evans


Animal Lovers, Don't Fret. 

All of the animals and taxidermy were not hunted by the residents of this sprawling estate, rather they were purchased by art curater and Aynhoe host, James Perkins. James is a music-industry veteran, collector and aesthete. The animals are not displayed as hunting trophies, but rather pieces that live here, perfectly at home, adding to the playfully surreal vibes of the history here. You will find a polar bear in flying goggles, an alligator waiter in the bar area and a giraffe being balloon-lifted to the ceiling. You will be greeted by one of many amazing butlers who have a passion for this grand estate. The house has become a living museum filled with curiosities tucked into every corner. 

Aynhoe Park’s combination of 17th-century Palladian grandeur fused with it's eccentric interiors, collectibles and art, have made it one of the most in-demand locations for films and photoshoots. The estate has set the stage for many famous fashion shoots for the likes of Vogue Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Tatler and Architectural Digest to name a few.

Fun FactMick Jagger's daughter got married her in 2012. It doesn't get much cooler, historical or more interesting than Aynhoe Park. 



Photography & Words By: Barker Evans

What were some of the highlights of your experience at the venue? 

We have been fortunate to photograph many events and weddings at Aynhoe Park and there is a uniqueness and a different highlight every time we walk through the door.  It’s a mercurial venue that changes it’s look and this is all due to the genius and skill of owner James Perkins and partner Sophie who create a wonderland of architectural and interior fantasy on the blank canvas of classicism of the house. James Perkins is a truly modern day collector in the country house tradition who pushes at the boundaries between preserving the heritage of a historic house mixing it with contemporary pieces, incredible taxidermy and whimsy. This is a house where lions and bears wear crowns, a giraffe presides over the conservatory and for this particular event a unicorn surrounded by candles and feathers set the scene for dinner in the orangery. James manages to keep the style and ethos rock and roll but with a classical edge. It’s a venue where within reason there are no rules and limitations and can accommodate a fairy tale or decedent event or a mixture of both.



What do you think makes it a great venue for gatherings? 

Its a venue that caters for every experience. The butlers are on hand to cater to every whim and The Kitchen at Aynhoe provides a team of enviable chefs who are on standby, for breakfast, lunch and  dinner  whether for eight in the dining room, forty in the orangery or 120 in the dining room.

In all our experience of the venue it never fails to enthral, intrigue and delight the guests and the house large enough  to rock a large crowd but also his a warm and intimate feel where it can be shared by smaller parties for romantic dinners. It seems to mould  itself to the personality of the guests, who can relax, make it their own and experience it as a home. There are 16 luxurious bedroom suites in the house and four immaculate apartments in the stable block.



Tell us a little bit about the event you photographed? What was the occasion? The decor? 

The occasion was a private dinner party with an  eclectic group of fabulous guests to celebrate the the 400th Birthday of the house. Hosted by James and his partner Sophie the guest list gathered round the table were friends who were from the worlds of music, fashion, finance, investment, journalism & media. Including the Interior Designer, Cook and Author Sophie Conran, Swedish Comedian and Actress Cecilia Forss and partner Frederick von der Esch. Film Director Malcolm Veneville was there with actress Daisy Bates, Designer Diana Seiff, shoe designers to the super stylish (Malone Souliers) Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt amongst other fabulous company.

Guests arrived throughout the afternoon and after being shown the their rooms,  joined their hosts James and Sophie for casual drinks, fun and ferret racing in the garden. After this guests changed for dinner and the evening party was both casual and glamorous.




What were some standout moments of the gathering?

If we had to single out a highlight for this particular party it was the unicorn and polar bear bought to life as pre dinner entertainment for the guests. This was done with such dramatic style and humour. After drinks and canapes in the the library (we particularly loved the smoked eel canape’s offered under a glass dome) the guests where were led out to the terrace . 



What are some notable features at the venue?

The back of the house overlooks the famous and classical landscaped gardens created by England’s historical  and premier landscape gardener, Capability Brown between 1760 - 1763 and the guests were thrilled to see a white stallion emerging from the landscape dressed as Unicorn, a fabulous and amusing tableaux.



Tell us more about the gathering! 

Later when the doors were opened for dinner the guests marvelled at the decor, trees of feathers gilded pineapples, banana’s and fruit, candlelight, soft subtle atmospheric lighting by Mission Events and the most beautiful white Unicorn, sitting on the the foot of the table. The far corners of the room were surveyed by a standing Zebra and a Giraffe hanging from the ceiling.

The banqueting details and styling was created by Xavier and Tony of By Appointment only and the riot of fabulous balloons hanging from the ceiling were supplied by Bubblegum Balloons and the evening banquet dinner was created by Stones Events



Any inside tips?

Aynhoe’s barmen are a dab hand with a Boston Shaker. Aynhoe Park maintains and extensive stock of premium and rare spirits, whiskies, brandies, beers and non-alcoholic drinks - not to forget the enviable wine cellar.



Did you meet anyone at the venue that you connected with or made a lasting impression?

Everyone who we have met at Aynhoe is synonomus with fabulousness



What makes the venue a great backdrop and setting for photos?

This is a house with infinite visual possibilities with light airy classical rooms with beautiful tonal palettes The quality of light from the Georgian windows makes natural photography a joy. The orangery with its high ceilings is the perfect backdrop as is the original Baroque main staircase. Outside the canopy of trees are the perfect shade from the glare of the sun and the honey stone provides a softness along with Palladian and Baroque glamour.



What makes both the area + the venue a good destination for a group getaway or event?

Aynhoe is situated in Oxfordshire at the edge of the Cotswolds and 30 minutes from historic Oxford. The house can arrange transport whether private jet transfer to Oxford,  chauffeured cars or a helicopter flight straight to the landing pad in the grounds. The house can also arrange an assortment of classic sports or vintage cars for the house.



Are there any notable cafes, shops, restaurants, bars in the area? 

The Kitchen at Aynhoe Park offers haute cuisine, locally sourced, home cooked farm fresh food on site on demand but if guests would like to venture out the house can recommend, warm cosy gastro pubs tucked in the country side close by. Locally the Cotswolds offer quaint authentic shops, tea rooms and eateries, nearby historic Oxford offers wonderful city amenities. World renowned Bicester Village Shopping outlet is also very close by and is home to 1000 outlet boutiques of the the world’s leading fashion and lifestyle brands.



Venue: Aynhoe Park | Photography: Barker Evans | Styling: Xavier and Tony of By Appointment only | Planning & Production: Anton at Mission Events | Catering: Stones Events | Baloons: Bubblegum Balloons | Bartender: Joe Connell-Hinkes


The banqueting details and styling was created by Xavier and Tony of By Appointment only and the riot of fabulous balloons hanging from the ceiling were supplied by Bubblegum Balloons and the evening banquet dinner was created by Stones Events

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about the correspondent
Harley and Susie Barker Evans
Oxford, UK
We are so pleased that you have found us and are honoured that you are considering us to document your wedding. We are Oxford based, UK and destination photographers and enjoy creating beautiful heirlooms to cherish forever and feel privileged to meet and have fun with so many lovely coupes along the way. - Website

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