Somerset

Coronavirus: Ston Easton Park goes bust amid pandemic

Luxury hotel Ston Easton Park Image copyright Portland Business Recovery
Image caption All of Ston Easton Park's staff have been made redundant

A historic building once bought for restoration by MP Jacob Rees-Mogg's father has ceased trading as a four-star hotel because of lockdown.

Attempts are being made to find new operators for Grade I-listed Ston Easton Park, administrators confirmed.

The building, whose grounds were designed by 18th Century landscape gardener Humphry Repton, has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

One couple, due to get married at the Somerset venue, face losing £7,000.

Lucy Lowe, of Wells, and fiancé Sam Money, from Glastonbury, have been told by administrators Portland Business Recovery (PBR) they are unlikely to get their money back.

"We've been saving for our dream wedding since getting engaged two years ago. As soon as we visited Ston Easton Park we fell in love with it," Ms Lowe, 22, said.

"The package we booked included a three-course meal, drinks and fireworks."

Image copyright Lucy Lowe
Image caption Sam Money and Lucy Lowe say they are heartbroken

But on 16 June Mr Money, 22, was contacted by a hotel worker to say it was no longer trading and all staff had been told to leave.

PBR has confirmed all staff at the Grade I-listed building had been made redundant and attempts were being made to find new operators.

PBR director Mike Fortune, said: "The hotel sector has been especially vulnerable to this pandemic, due to it being predicted to be one of the last sectors to have any restrictions eased."

The historic venue was saved from demolition in 1958 when a preservation order was granted, before William Rees-Mogg bought it in 1964.

Lord Rees-Mogg, who edited The Times newspaper for 14 years from 1967, took on the restoration work before he sold it to millionaire Peter Smedley, who converted it into a hotel.

The house was sold again in 2001, to Von Essen Hotels.

Ms Lowe said facing not getting their money back was "was heartbreaking".

"Not only have we lost the money we already paid the hotel, we risk losing deposits we have paid to other suppliers," she said.

Her sister Natalie Heal has set up a fundraising page to help keep the wedding plans alive.

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