- Function Rooms: 23
- Max Meeting: 0
- Max Dinner: 0
- Max Reception: 0
- Outdoor Capacity: 250
To celebrate the general election, Square Meal invited 350 readers to Lord’s. Mark Sansom joined them for a glance at the world-famous venue’s event spaces
As election fever gripped London on 6 May, the Home of Cricket swung open its gates to the third Square Meal reader event of the year. Taking place five years since we last held a showcase at Lord’s (the previous general election), V&E readers were out in force, having cast their marks in polling stations all over town.
To kick things off, we thought it’d be fun to conduct a straw poll, to see where the vote of the event community lay. Much like the rest of the South East, the room was washed in blue, with the Conservative Party taking home 48% of the ballot. The Lib Dems won 24% and Labour was resigned to an 18% share; other parties made up the rest.
The tone of the evening was set with a Champagne and canapé reception in the 800 stand-up capacity Nursery Pavilion. Overlooking the grassy expanse where the players practice before a big match, the structure has a real alfresco feel and is perfect for receptions. With facilities to accommodate cars and large installations, it is also Lord’s stand-out exhibition space – regularly playing host to product launches and wine fairs – as well as being a base for match-day hospitality.
The guided tour finished in the prestigious Long Room, after swinging by all of the cricket ground’s stand-out spaces. Some of the best food we’ve tasted at an event greeted guests as they entered, served in the Pavilion’s private members’ bar. Bowls were stacked deep with sea bass and spicy calamari, as well as herb-crusted lamb chops with lemon potatoes – all ready to be washed down with plenty more Lord’s-branded bubbly.
After a blini or two, or a trip to the salt-beef carvery, we announced the winners of the prize draw. Premium sets of tickets for a day’s hospitality at the Henley Royal Regatta were donated by Keith Prowse (tel: 0845 125 4880, squaremeal.co.uk/kp-lords) – the exclusive hospitality partner at Lord’s – alongside hospitality tickets for a Twenty20 match at the ground.
Just when we thought it was over, the Lord’s staff unveiled their take on an afternoon tea: delicious mini cakes, scones and finger sandwiches that strangely didn’t seem out of place at 9pm at night. ‘It’s been an awesome party. There’s been no shortage of food or drink,’ said Patricia Philippi, a marketing exec from medical firm TOPRA.
We called time on the party at 9pm to leave a chance for those who hadn’t voted to get down and make their selection. No one could’ve predicted the result, but it’d be fair to say that it won’t be the last time readers will be voting with their feet at Lord’s.
Many readers hadn’t been to Lord’s before and were impressed by its diversity. ‘It was great to be taken on such a thorough tour,’ said Anna Woodhall, a PA for Close Brothers Corporate Finance. ‘I didn’t realise it had such a range of spaces. They vary from classically old to super-modern,’ said Ewa Karczmarz, events coordinator for publishers Cross Border.
Indeed, it’s a venue full of dichotomies. While one side pays homage to its heritage, the other looks straight into the future. The Pavilion at one end of the ground is Grade-II listed, having been built in 1889, while at the other end the Media Centre has won a RIBA Stirling Prize and rises like a spaceship over the top of the stands.
Both can be hired for events, with the futuristic Media Centre ideal for high-level board meetings and presentations, employing production-quality AV kit and the iconic pitch backdrop. The Pavilion, on the other hand, is best used for grand gala dinners, making the most of the restaurant-quality in-house catering and slick service.
The Thomas Lord Suite was especially popular at the event: ‘It’s great for a New Year’s Eve party. I came to one here a few years back and we had a ball,’ said James Dummer, CEO of Solar Green Tourism. The dining area – holding 350 cabaret style – is divided by a long bar from the dance floor, which, with the help of sound and lighting team Eclipse, can be turned into the perfect party space. It’s the only part of the venue with a late licence, so takes all of the post-midnight bookings.
Covered by Venues & Events in March this year when it launched, the England team dressing room is another ultra-exclusive space in the Lord’s portfolio. Arguably the most restricted sporting venue available for receptions in Britain, it’s a great way to set tongues wagging before a dinner in the Writing Room downstairs. ‘It’d make a great space for an event where guests didn’t know each other; there’s so many talking points,’ said Amy Hampton, marketing coordinator for Cyril Sweett, a global construction company. Events here are by special permission only. Plans are also afoot for an ambitious subterranean conference and hospitality facility to rival the best in London. Although planning hasn’t yet been granted, the Vision for Lord’s team have been tasked with finding ways to keep the venue at the forefront of both the UK’s sport and events market.
Despite being a stickler for tradition in so many ways, the manner in which Lord’s melds the absolute best of past and present British architecture shows a real forward-thinking ethos. It’s a venue that any delegate – sports fan or not – will leave flushed with a sense of pride of what Britain can produce.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, summer 2010
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