For the last three decades, Brookhall has been owned by Pauline and Sam Johnston. But during this time, there have been numerous changes to transform it from a working farm to a beautiful rural wedding venue with four self-catering cottages. So let’s take a closer look at the main highlights in the Brookhall story.
1988 The new owners of Brookhall
Pauline and Sam Johnston bought Brookhall Farm as a working farm, including outbuildings, a derelict cottage, a gate lodge with tenants and 30 acres of farmland.
1989 Brookhall’s very own “George and Mildred”
The Open Farm was born and welcomed visitors to see the cattle, sheep, chickens, ducks, Vietnamese pot bellied pigs, a donkey, rabbits and ponies. The star attractions were of course Brookhall’s “George and Mildred”, a goose and gander and not forgetting Heather, the Highland Cow.
1993 Tea Shop and Tours
This was a very busy year for Pauline and Sam as the Tea House, Garden Centre, Antiques Shop and Farm Museum opened their doors to visitors. Sam was a keen historian and he conducted farm tours for groups and members of the public while Pauline ran the Tea House which was always well-stocked with her gorgeous homemade cakes, scones and traybakes. The vast collection of old farm implements and machinery started to increase in size too.
1996 Beautiful Ulster countryside
The dream of Brookhall Cottages began as customers often remarked on the beautiful surroundings and how it would make a perfect setting for a holiday home.
1999 Building work starts
The dream started to become a reality when the long-term tenants of Brookhall Gate Lodge moved out. Pauline then started to plan and build a second gate lodge beside the original one and it was appropriately named Brookhall Lodge View.
2000 Farm Woman of the Year
This was the year when Pauline was awarded “Farm Woman of the Year for Northern Ireland” in the prestigious Bank of Ireland awards. She travelled to Dublin for the glittering awards ceremony at the bank’s head office.
2000 Let’s go fishing
A fishing lake was created which was fed by a natural spring. A trout farm occupied this site until recently and today it is a privately run carp fishery.
2001 Brookhall’s first overnight guests
After months of hard work, the two cottages were finished and Pauline welcomed her first overnight guests to Brookhall Cottages.
2005 Restoring the Brookhall Church
One of the largest buildings at Brookhall was originally a place of Christian worship dating back to 1210. Having been used for agricultural purposes for hundreds of years, the Johnstons were keen to return the church to its former glory. This year work started on the church and this involved numerous tradespeople from carpenters, roofers, electricians, decorators and even stonemasons from Brazil!
2006 The first Brookhall wedding
After a year’s hard work, Brookhall Church was finished and ready to open its doors. Pauline and Sam were delighted to welcome the daughter of long-standing family friends as their first bride and even constructed a temporary helicopter landing pad in the front paddock for the happy couple.
Today this beautiful historical building is certified for both Christian weddings and civil ceremonies, with an adjoining banqueting room and kitchen for catering.
2007 Honeysuckle Cottage and Pear Tree Cottage are ready for guests
As the self-catering accommodation side of the business was blossoming and more brides and grooms were selecting Brookhall for their big day, Pauline decided it was time to hang up her apron and close the popular Brookhall Tea House but transforming it into the third place to stay at Brookhall, Honeysuckle Cottage.
It was time to pull up the shutters on the Antique Shop too but this led to the transformation of the fourth cottage, Pear Tree Cottage to complete the portfolio of unique country cottages at Brookhall.
2012 Best Self-Catering Cottages Award
All the hard work on the cottages was rewarded with the coveted Tourism NI’s award for the “Best Self-Catering Cottages in Northern Ireland”. Pauline and Sam were absolutely delighted to receive this accolade from their peers in the tourism industry.
Brookhall Farm Estate is a few miles from Lisburn City Centre. With its own 12th century church building and onsite self-catering cottages, Brookhall is the perfect wedding venue for couples looking for an idyllic rural setting for their special day.