Corporate Events & Venue Hire - Exclusive Country House & Estate - Scottish Borders, Scotland

So what really happened after Country House Rescue?

August 24th, 2011
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Well, we didn’t exactly do what Ruth Watson suggested!

We also had a daughter called Lily, definitely the best thing possible to come out of the time we spent shooting the programme. She is just about to turn 2 now!

But what about the more commercial, Ruth-orientated side of things? The idea of corporate hospitality went down like a lead balloon during the recession of 98/99. We actually had companies who laughed at us when we called them. And neither of us were desperately interested in the possibility anyway. Maybe it just wasn’t spiritual enough!

The acting classes and workshops were pretty sensible though. However,  a large majority of actors live and work many miles away in London, and it seemed a little pointless to drag them all the way up here. Particularly when Ellie’s company in London, The Actors Temple, was, and still is, going from strength to strength. You can check out their latest production, Hamlet, on their website at

For John, the brewery continued to be the  more sensible, long term approach to making the estate profitable, and it didn’t involve the huge upheaval in the house that would have been necessary to accommodate paying guests. Lily is tidy but still a toddler, and she might just have upset the cool, professional corporate image we would have needed to project!

In February 2011, John finally opened the Scotish Borders Brewery, and it has been onwards and upwards ever since. The brewery now employs 5 people  and sells to over 150 pubs from Sunderland up to St Andrews. The battle to make it happen was definitely worth it, and the plough-to-pint ethos that John wanted to underpin the whole project does seem to have caught people’s imagination.

We’ve also teamed up with Country House Hideouts ( to give people who want to come and stay here a real taste of what the place is about. Far better than gold taps and board-room style seating arrangements!

In addtion to the Temple, Ellie has launched a successful Scottish-based theatre company called Firebrand. They’re about to produce their third play, Oleanna, and you can learn more about them at

So are we making progress? Yes, we think we are, and the best thing about it is that we’re happy about the way it’s happening. Do we regret doing Country House Rescue? Not for a second. The suggestions just weren’t for us. We wanted to do things that had a little bit more soul, spirit and meaning. And we really hope we’ve done that.

Do stay in touch!

John, Ellie and Lily.

27 comments so far

  1. Fantastic programme, was aired tonight, not sure if it was a repeat.
    Personally I was hoping for a B&B or holiday cottages to come out of your enterprise, anyway good luck and all the best.


  2. Alastair Wilson
    August 25th, 2011
    at 9:28 pm

    Looks lovely
    Glad you made it work!

    I’ll look out form the beer when I next travel North.
    Do you sell any beer in Grassmere or Ambleside? [ I'm going there this weekend]

    Best wishes

    Alastair Wilson

  3. Eilis O'Hara, Dublin, Ireland
    August 25th, 2011
    at 9:59 pm

    Absolutely fantastic, I’m so glad you went ahead with your dream and have succeeded with it. Unique and inspirational, thanks for updating what you’ve done after the show! And all the best with your continued renovations on the house.

  4. Watched the re-run/update of the programme last night having originally watched just because Chesters is located in the Borders-an area I love. (I wanted to punch Ruth Watson….but anyway…!) Just wanted to say how pleased I am that the brewery is taking off. As lovers of Caledonian ales ( our kids are/were at uni in Edinburgh and St Andrews)the more the merrier! Can’t wait to find it and try it next time we’re in Scotland.
    Wishing you all the best as you ‘grow slow’ in the way you want to.

  5. I watched Country House Rescue last night, very interesting. Decided to search the web to check how things had progressed for you. So glad to hear that things are working out. Great website. You appear to have achieved a lot in a relatively short time – and with a child to consider. Any progress on the West Wing?

  6. Double m in accommodate!

  7. school boy error. literally!

  8. Monica Littleboy
    August 31st, 2011
    at 3:18 pm

    Glad you are doing well. Shame you don’t offer holiday lodges as I don’t fancy staying in a tent. Think you mean recession of 2009 not 98/99.

  9. i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

  10. I love Ruth’s programes and surprised when she is treated as the enemy…she has wonderful ideas and as with the above property wasonly being realistic!

  11. The programm was aired today in Holland and I think Ruth had a good idea by renting the house to corporate hospitality and it is a shame that the couple didnt go through with it. But it is nice to hear that things are working out.

  12. Dear John, Ellie and Lilly

    First of al congratulations on the daughter ofcourse!
    I’ve just watched country house rescue while it was being aired in Holland and I have to say that I just loved your way of looking at life your dreams and the estate in a broader sense. I’m happy to read that it’s all going well and if I ever have the opportunity to go to Scotland i’d love to get a pint based on your plough-to-pint ethos. Keep up the good work and don’t ever do something that you don’t fully approve of.
    Best of luck and happiness from Holland,


  13. I have just watch the program Country House Rescue, Congrats on all you have achieved since the program was made, glad all your dreams for Chesters where fulfilled. You both must be extremely proud of what u have done. a
    Good luck with all you do in the future.


  14. Watching your episode on ABC TV Australia tonight. Great to see that you have continued on with your passions and are living in your home and making a living from it. Congratulations.

  15. Like previous comment have just watched program in Jindabyne Australia. Glad you made it work. Will be in UK next month to see some of your historic buildings. Unfortunately not going to Scotland this trip. Perhaps next time

  16. Just watched on ABC TV in Australia. Couldn’t contain myself – just had to find out if Chesters was viable or just a pile (literally). I am so impressed that you have achieved your dream what an absolutely beautiful place. I have to confess that Ruth is a little annoying with low tolerance for dreamers. Congratulations and we will visit next yar when we “do” Scotland.

  17. Hi, John and Ellie and little Lily. Just watched the program on ABC half an hour ago here on King Island, off the North West Coast of Tasmania in Australia…

    I thought I would get on the net and have a look being keen on watching things such as old Estates coming back in to their own. Congratulations. What a lot of work you have done over the last few years. I love the idea of something being brought back to life! It is in effect like ‘The Secret Garden’ isn’t it when its acheived? What a lovely inheritance you will leave Lily, not to mention all those who appreciate these great homes. All the very best for your future. If I ever get back home to England I would love to wander up and have a look. My family originates from Lancaster. I’ve been out here since 1965.

  18. Just finished watching Country House Rescue here at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast NSW Australia. Congratulations on living your dream,very well done on your achievements so far, maybe next exporting your fine Ale to us ex pats down under.
    We have a beautiful little doggie called Chester every time your Chesters was mentioned on the TV he kept looking to see who was calling his name.
    Good luck for the future, enjoy life.

    Ann & Mell

  19. Seems I’m not alone in just having seen your particular episode here in Australia – just south of Sydney – and curious about your final decisions. Congratulations on following your dreams and lucky you to be able to live and work in the Scottish Borders. I’ve only been once and dream of returning one day. Well done.

  20. Just watched your the espisode of Chesters and loved it. I live in Perth Western Australia and love everything from UK especially programmes about old country estates and homes in general. Like some others here I was wondering what eventually happened to your property so googled on the web. So happy that you have achieved your dream and are living in Chesters. Just wondering if you have been able to restore any of the rooms,wings or farm cottages that were needing some TLC (tender loving care)? Congrats on your lovely daughter Lily.

  21. Hi From Australia. Just watched the program on ABC iview and went straight to the website. Congratulations on your achievements. I admire your courage to follow your dream and realize your vision. I could feel your passion for the brewery through the screen, it can only work well for you now. Enjoy!

  22. Didn’t realise how old that program was. Love your home. Well done with your own ideas. all the very best for the future.

    September 24th, 2011
    at 7:08 am

    Love the progamme,
    I suppose I agree more with Ruth’s ideas to make money to refurbish your estate. What seems to come to light with these old estates is that the owners now become the lowpaid labour and more sevants to their house than owner.Im so glad you are enjoying your home now.

  24. Hi John ,Ellie & Lilly,

    have just watched the counrty house rescue.Like a lot of the above I live in Serpentine ,Australia.
    Just had to see if you managed to do your Brewery .Well done it all looks fabulous..
    We were back in Scotland for a wedding this year .Wish we had known about you .Will pass on your details to relatives..Will visit next time .Do you think you will ever do B&B accomodation ?.
    Again well done you deserve every success..
    Glad you did country house rescue or we would not have known about you ..

  25. “I believe in the compelling power of love. I do not understand it. I believe it to be the most fragrant blossom of all this thorny existence.” ~ Theodore Dreiser

  26. Ellie and I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all your comments and support. It means an awful lot – particularly considering we went against most of Ruth’s suggestions – and it reassures us that we’ve made the right decisions in the long run.

    Please stay in touch. We’ve got lots of exciting new developments coming up in the next year or two …

    John and Ellie

  27. “Love is metaphysical gravity.” ~ R. Buckminster Fuller