by sarah • November 1, 2022 • Heaton House Team

The history of our farm – a heritage of farming, helping and celebrating

From when the farmhouse was first built above Rushton Spencer in 1824, to the sustainable future we’re working towards – Heaton House Farm is a place full of memories.

The early years – from `Tomkinson to heath

Thomas Tomkinson took up a position as a tenant farmer here after Dr. Robin passed the farm on. The Tomkinson family raised a daughter, who went on to marry one of the farm workers, Ralph Steele. Eventually Ralph’s son (also Ralph!) would marry and purchase the farm himself in 1958, before passing it on to his only child – a daughter called Eileen. She married a local farmer’s son – James Eric Heath – and the rest is history, as the farm then went from strength to strength with each generation of farmers adding more animals and more diversity to a growing business.

The first celebrations – charity concerts and a marquee wedding

Fast forward to the 1990’s, with the 6th generation of Heath family members – Mick & Margaret overseeing the farm, and the 7th generation (daughter Sarah) already mucking out pigs and shearing sheep! We’ve always loved giving back to the community, hosting charity concerts for the Midlands Air Ambulance every year with acts like The Barron Knights and Showaddywaddy. After the third concert in 1998, one of the guests asked about throwing a wedding in our barn, marquee-style. Of course, we were eager to help and in 1999 we held the very first wedding at Heaton House Farm!

A growing business – milking cows & DJing weddings

As well as farming, Mick had been a mobile DJ for some years and often DJ’d for the weddings we were holding. He’d get up at 5am to milk the cows and then hit the DJ decks at 7pm until the late hours! We’re still a working farm, and you’ll often find Mick tending to his prize-winning Norstaff herd of pedigree Belgian blue cows, or see Margaret in a neighbouring field marking out the locations of ground-nesting birds so the plough can navigate around them.

Converted especially for weddings – transforming the farm buildings

By 2003, we were hosting several weddings a year, so we took the difficult decision to sell the dairy cows. Although it was a sad day to see them go, we still kept the beef and sheep and had plenty on our hands to look forward to.

We set about converting our existing barns and outhouses to better accommodate wedding parties and transform the buildings into a luxurious wedding venue. With the money raised from selling the cows and with our own onsite stone and oak craftsmen, we turned our attention to every building on the farm, one-by-one to make each of them a wonderful place for a wedding, with:

Permanent marquee linings for the Wedding Barn and all the latest sound and lighting equipment.

Steeles Barn in 2007, named after Sarah’s Great-Granddad

The Old Stableyard breakfast room converted in 2014 from the milking parlour used for the Steele family’s Shorthorn cows

award-winning toilets (outstanding quality is important everywhere!)

purpose-built accommodation with luxury guest rooms and step-free disabled access, finished in 2014

Focused on the future – proud of our countryside

We’re extremely proud of our heritage, our farm and the surrounding countryside. We are still a working farm, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our sheep feature in some of our weddings too, with our very friendly lambs often coming up to the fence to get in on the photos. We have a few Texel sheep along with speckled Jacobs. Our incredible history makes us who we are, and we’re always looking to the future for ways we can improve and develop even more.

Want to find out more about the history behind our building’s names?

Want to come down for a visit? Take a look on our brochure