Roger Saul, founder of the international fashion empire Mulberry's, has bought the Charlton House Hotel in Somerset, saving it from a planned conversion into flats.

Mr Saul hopes to re-open the property in the new year and turn it into one of the UK's top country house hotels. It is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment.

The hotel is on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet, site of Mulberry's headquarters and factory shop since 1995.

"Charlton House was the local prestigious hotel, where you went if you had a special occasion," said Mr Saul, who remembered visiting the hotel as a small boy.

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