PUBLISHED: 12:26 22 March 2016 | UPDATED: 12:41 30 August 2017

me and matt

me and matt

Lara Gill and Matthew Stokes moved to Cornwall – bringing with them her young daughter and enthusiasm for doing up his family farm

Lara Gill and Matthew Stokes moved to Cornwall just six months ago – bringing with them her young daughter and a huge enthusiasm for doing up his family farm near Bude

Steeped in history and set amidst spectacular wooded countryside, Launcells Barton is a family-owned, Grade II* listed building in Launcells, a small parish situated near Bude.

But moving back to Matthew’s family home meant taking huge risks. We sold our house, left our jobs and moved with my daughter Sophia to start our mammoth project of giving the family farm some much needed TLC and bringing it back to life,’ says Lara.

This stunning property was where Matthew grew up – but like many before him, he moved away from Cornwall for work after he finished university.

We all regularly came back to see family and stay on the farm, but our trips increased to every month once we decided we were going to undertake the project,’ explains Lara. Even though a lot of our trips were business related we always made time for a walk on the farm or a trip to the beach with all the family.’

The idea began many years ago - Matthew’s family sold the farm’s dairy herd ten years ago due to illness within the family. With no money to sustain the farm and no time to undertake much needed repairs due to the illness and also caring for elderly relatives, the farm began to deteriorate rapidly. But with Matthew’s background in property and Lara’s in events management – they have successfully combined their skills to breathe new life into the farm as a unique wedding venue.

It was a choice between selling the family farm or doing something so that the house and grounds could be brought back to its former glory and sustain the farm,’ says Lara. With all the family history and potential that Launcells Barton had to offer with its grand exterior, rustic barns and close proximity to the church we knew we had something special and wanted others to be able to enjoy it too!’

But despite their skills and a huge shared enthusiasm for the task, bringing Launcells Barton back from the brink hasn’t been without its challenges. Of course nothing is without its struggles and stresses, but I think we realised we had something special when we saw all the reactions of our brides and grooms. Some people are so excited that they get to see the project from the start and be a part of our journey; others love to hear about all the history of the farm, whether it be the Monks’ stew ponds at the front of the house, or the priest holes in the library. Seeing someone imagining their day with our venue in mind and getting so excited is a great feeling!’

So what are the secrets of their success? Have great people around you - everyone we have used we have taken on recommendation from people we have worked with. Sometimes all you need is someone else’s view on something, so having people around you that have been there and done that before or can step back and look at something from a different angle is all you need.

The people are so much more laid back in Cornwall, everyone is just so friendly and helpful. There is such a great sense of community even within the wedding industry. We regularly go to wedding industry networking events and everyone is so happy to work together and help one another out where possible. It’s great to be a part of and we are loving getting to meet lots of amazingly creative people that have the same passion as us.’

And what advice would they give to anyone thinking of making the move? Make sure you have a good support network of people, whether its family you can call on to babysit at short notice or friends you can phone when you just need a chat. Starting a business is pretty much all consuming, so with having a young family we always try and take a day out a week where we can spend time together and not talk about work.’

Quick Kernow

Favourite place to eatThe Beach in Bude does absolutely amazing food and in the summer you can sit out on the terrace with a cocktail and watch the sun set! Pure bliss!

Favourite walkThe Farm, I love putting my wellies on and going for an explore round the farm and with all the woods and streams there is plenty to explore!

Favourite beachSummerleaze! The children love going rock pooling and building sand castles.

Favourite flavour of Cornwall I was never a fan of the Cornish pasty before I moved to Cornwall, but now I know why: they weren’t doing them right. I love nothing more than sitting on the beach eating a pasty watching the waves smashing into the rocks.

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