During the process of buying the hall, we heard some interesting snippets of the history of the place, including that a previous owner held parties (read raves) in the hall which may explain some of the more unusual damage to the interior, and the worrying state of most of the external doors which we can only assume were inconveniently in the way of too many revelers trying to leave in a hurry.
We now have to maintain a delightful slate-faced, solid, slightly dour manor with a four-storey white-painted extension to one side and a brick bungalow-affair to the West. We also have a random set of wooden or plastic outhouses; many repairs required on the rainwater goods and roof, a ‘chalet’ comprising a couple of static caravans that has seen better days, and a lot of trailing cabling festooned across the facade along with banner signs bearing the logos for various alcohols or satellite channels. In the grounds we have several stands of Japanese knotweed, and the woodland includes species we will need to try to eradicate including Rhododendron Ponticum and cherry laurel.
But if we look at it from a slightly different angle, we now have a hotel with stunning views; a beautiful core building with up to 19 let-able rooms; wonderfully welcoming villagers; and a 3 acre woodland and garden with which to play. There is a lot to do, but we are tackling this project thin slice by thin slice.
The first phase will be to open a restaurant and kitchen to provide a scenic rest-stop for the many walkers, kayakers and bikers in the area, as well as cater for residents.
The second phase will be to refurbish the rooms on the 3 accommodation floors above the restaurant. Essentially we will create suites of rooms on each floor so that parties can book bedrooms with linked lounges in which they can relax.
The third phase will be to gut and refinish the single story extension to incorporate wheelchair accessible suites of rooms.
And the final phase will be to refurbish the original manor house so that the bedrooms can be let, and if the demand exists, we may also create a formal dining room to grace a destination restaurant – assuming we haven’t given up by then!
Today saw us working on the hill that will be seen from the restaurant, slowly moving what we thought was a random heap of builder’s rubble dropped beside a path, but which on closer inspection turned out to be a pile of builder’s rubble, surprising quantities of broken glass and miniature metal phials, and the remains of several bonfires on which furniture must have been burnt given the number of metal catches, hinges and handles uncovered.
Here’s hoping something more glamorous presents itself for tomorrow’s task.