The Riding School


Hopefully we have covered everything you need to ask in our frequently asked questions, but if not, please do drop us a line!

Q. Is the Riding School licensed for wedding ceremonies?

It sure is! We are able to host civil ceremonies and partnerships, blessings, humanist ceremonies and vow renewals within the Riding School.

Q. We want to host our ceremony within the Riding School – what do we need to do?

You will need to contact the Superintendent Registrar at South Derbyshire Registry Office by calling 01629 533985 or emailing to make all ceremonial arrangements. Please do be aware that it is your responsibility to book this service and you are responsible for paying any fees to the registrar directly.

Q. There’s a church on the estate – can we get married in there?

Yes you can! St Giles is available to couples wishing to host their wedding celebrations within The Riding School following the service at the church however, you must also meet the requirements of the parish. For more information, please contact us directly. 

Q. What time can we get married?

What time would you like to get married? We think that the best time to get married at The Riding School is 12.30pm / 1pm but it really is entirely up to you. 

Q. Do we have exclusivity?

Yes, you have exclusive use of the Riding School and the courtyard to the front of the venue for your special day. Even though the wider estate is open to the public, you are most welcome to use the stunning gardens and grounds for your incredible wedding photographs.

Q. How can I check your availability?

At The Riding School we host weddings from May until October. We only host a small number of weddings each wedding season and you can check our availability by emailing us at or by filling in our enquiry form.

Q. How do we book a viewing?

We would love to welcome you to the Riding School, click here to make an appointment

Q. We’d like to provisionally hold a date – is that possible?

No problem at all. We offer all dates on a first come, first served basis. 

We are more than happy to hold a date for you for 14 days. We do kindly ask that you let us know if you no longer require a date so that we can release it. 

Q. What is the capacity?

Wedding Ceremony – 160

Wedding Breakfast – 160

Evening Reception – 240

Q. How much is the deposit?

The deposit is £1500 to secure your date. Your remaining balance will be split into two equal payments with the final balance to be paid no later than 12 weeks prior to your wedding date. 

Catering fees are paid directly to the catering team.

Q. Can we pay in instalments or arrange a payment plan?

We do ask that the deposit fee is paid in full and then we can happily arrange a monthly, interest free payment plan for you with the final payment due no later than 12 weeks prior to your wedding day. Please do enquire for more information. 

Q. Why do we need to have wedding insurance?

Wedding insurance is a mandatory purchase when booking your wedding at The Riding School. Sometimes, accidents do occur, and a wedding insurance policy not only covers you for any issue that may arise at the venue but will cover things like supplier failure. 

Q. Do you provide a wedding planning service?

We are more than just a wedding venue! With a wealth of knowledge, we are able to offer a full bespoke wedding planning service. Please enquire for more information.

Q. Can we have real candles?

As the Riding School is a Grade II listed building unfortunately, we are unable to allow real flames within the Riding School. We do allow battery powered candles and have several beautiful candle packages we can offer you to hire for your day.

Q. Do you allow balloons?

We do. However, we are unable to allow helium balloons within the Riding School. You are very welcome to have them outside for photographs in the grounds.

Q. Can our guests throw confetti?

Of course they can! We do ask that you guests use natural petal confetti only and we are only able to use confetti in the courtyard at the front of The Riding School. 

Q. We would love a drone to film at our wedding, would this be possible?

Absolutely! However, due to the nature of the estate we ask that you speak to us PRIOR TO agreeing to this service from your photographer or videographer.

Q. Do you have any accommodation?

The National Trust have five, beautiful self-catering holiday cottages available across the wider Calke Abbey estate. A map of the estate and their locations can be provided to you upon request. 

– Ticknall Lodge – Sleeps 3

– Heath End Lodge – Sleeps 3

– Wicket Nook – Sleeps 2

– Thatch Cottage – Sleeps 6

– Southwood House Farm – Sleeps 14

Unfortunately, we are unable to book these on your behalf or guarantee their availability, but you are able to book them via the National Trust Holiday Cottage website.

We will also provide you with a comprehensive ‘local accommodation’ list on your online client portal.

Q. Do you have any local taxi firm telephone numbers?

It is really important that you provide your guests with this information and we always advise you to pre-book your transportation home. 

Please do feel free to book transportation that you feel happiest with however, we do suggest that you avoid ordering an UBER (if you do, please provide them with the correct postcode, do not tell them that you are at Calke Abbey!). 

The most reliable, local companies we work with are:

– A1 Taxi’s – 01530 413535

– Abbey Cars – 01530 416060

– Village Cars – 01332 706020

When arriving at the estate, DAY GUESTS will need to enter the estate using the postcode: DE73 7JF

EVENING GUESTS and anyone arriving after 5pm will need to enter the estate via the EXIT gates using the postcode: LE65 1RR.

ALL GUESTS will leave the estate using the EXIT gates. 

We ask that transport home is booked no later than 11.30pm as the gates automatically lock and taxi’s will not be able to access the estate.  

Q. Do our Guests have to pay to enter the estate for our wedding?

When your guests arrive at Park Entry, they will need to make the National Trust team aware of whose wedding they are attending and they will be let through free of charge. 

Parking is also free of charge.

Q. Can we leave our vehicles overnight?

You are very welcome to leave your vehicles in the car park overnight however, we must stress that all vehicles are left at the owner’s risk. Neither Ivy House Weddings Limited nor the National Trust take ANY responsibility for any loss, damage or theft to any vehicles or items left on the Calke Abbey estate.

Q. Can we choose our own suppliers?

Absolutely! With the exception of our catering partners and the companies used for ceiling decor, you are very welcome to use your own suppliers to help you bring your dream wedding to life.

We do ask that you notify us of any booked suppliers as soon as possible so that we are able to make contact with them to discuss logistics and timings of your day.

Q. Can we choose our own caterers?

We have a small selection of catering partners for you to choose from. They are all beyond amazing and will work with you to create a bespoke menu of your dreams! They also offer really incredible food options for your evening reception. 

Q. Can we bring our own alcohol?

As well as offering reasonably priced drinks packages, we are thrilled to be able to offer the Riding School as a CORKAGE FREE wedding venue!

Under our guidance you will be able to supply all of your welcome drinks, table wine and toast drinks. As we promote responsible drinking, we do not allow bottles of spirits on the tables. We do however, allow miniature bottles (50ml max) as wedding favours.

At the Riding School we promote responsible drinking so we will work with you to ensure that you are providing the right amount of alcohol for your day.

Our CORKAGE FREE policy strictly ends as the last dessert is served. Following the wedding breakfast, any alcohol that belongs to you will be held back and returned to you upon collection of your belongings.

If you choose a micro wedding at the Riding School your welcome drinks, table wine and toast drink are included in the price so you don’t have to worry about your alcohol at all!


Unless otherwise agreed, drinks are only to be provided by Ivy House Weddings Limited and purchased from the bar. Any one person(s) found to have their own supply will have their drinks confiscated. Failure to surrender any drinks not purchased from the wedding venue will be asked to leave the event. Continuous behaviour will not be tolerated and the event will be closed down with immediate effect.

Q. Do you have Wi-Fi?

We do have free Wi-Fi within the venue however it can be incredibly temperamental.

Q. Can we have music during the day? If so, how?

You are very welcome to have a musician(s) of your choice play music throughout your day. Alternatively, we have a PA system that we can use to play your music through, throughout the day. We also have a company Spotify account that you are able to send your playlists too so that we can play them using our own device. We will provide you with all of the details through your client portal

Q. Do you have card facilities behind the bar?

We do have a card machine behind the bar however, the Wi-Fi in The Riding School can be temperamental, so we do recommend your guests bring cash. The closest ATM can be located at Tesco in Ashby which is approximately 6 miles away from Calke Abbey.

Q. What time does the bar open?

The bar is open all day. However, if you are hosting your ceremony within The Riding School, we are unable to serve alcohol prior to this but soft drinks will be available. Fresh water and squash are always freely available throughout the day. 

Q. What time does the bar close?

Both our bar and music licence end at 11pm. 

Q. We don’t want our guests to pay for their drinks, how can we do this?

No problem at all! There are several options for this, we can discuss this with you closer to the time. However, it is important to mention that all bills MUST be settled prior to you leaving the venue at the end of the evening. 

Q. How accessible is the venue for our disabled guests?

Whilst the venue is just a short walk from the car park, we understand how hard this can be for some guests. Please do make us aware of any additional assistance your guests may need so that we can make arrangements where needed. Once you are within the Riding School, we have step free access throughout the venue. We have level access to the disabled toilet facilities too.

Q. Is the Riding School child friendly?

Yes we are! We have baby changing facilities, highchairs we even make sure the bar is stocked with child friendly squash. There is a small play area available to use during the day but we do ask that all children are supervised by a responsible adult at all times. 

Q. Will the Riding School be warm?

The Riding School has underfloor heating but no air conditioning, we keep the venue at a comfortable temperature throughout the wedding season.

Q. Is there a smoking area?

The Riding School is a no smoking venue for cigarettes, cigars & electronic cigarettes. The courtyard at the front of the Riding School is the designated smoking area for this activity. We do kindly ask that all cigarette & cigar stubs are put into the buckets provided.

Q. Can we bring our dog?

Due to Health & Safety and Health & Hygiene rules, we are unable to permit your pet into the Riding School on your wedding day. However, if you’d like your pet to attend for your photographs outside, then you are more than welcome to make these arrangements. 

Q. Can we arrive by helicopter?

Unfortunately not. The grounds are of Special Scientific Interest and as the estate is open to the public, we are unable to permit a helicopter landing at Calke Abbey. 

Q. Can we have a taxi photobooth for our evening reception?

Yes, you absolutely can.

Q. Do you have a dancefloor?

The central area of the Riding School becomes the dancefloor area later on during your day. If you’d like to hire a dancefloor then you are very welcome too but you don’t necessarily need to have one.

Q. Can we have fireworks?

Do to our location and the historic nature of the buildings, woodland and animals on the estate, we are unable to allow fireworks, pyrotechnics, Chinese lanterns or anything of a similar nature at Calke Abbey. We do however, allow sparklers.

Q. Are there any lights outside in the evening?

Yes. We have lighting from the Riding School to the car park. The car park is also has lighting. We also have lighting from the Riding School to the taxi collection area.  

Q. We’d like to make refreshment baskets to put in the bathrooms – is this possible?

Of course. We are happy to pop them into the bathrooms after 5pm when the general public have left the estate.  Please note that there isn’t anywhere for one to go in the gents toilets.

Where to next?

.01 find out more about accommodation & travel

.02 Discover your food & drink options

.03 View the riding school gallery

.04 introduction to the riding school

.05 discover the history of calke abbey

.06 get in touch with us to arrange a viewing