The owner of Babylonstoren in South Africa is planning to transform Hadspen House in Somerset into an upmarket hotel.
The 17th century mansion and estate had been owned by the Ford family since 1785. South African businessman Koos Bekker, who owns Babylonstoren, a preserved Cape Dutch farm estate in the Drakenstein valley with a hotel, spa, restaurant and winery, acquired the property in 2013.
The Grade II-listed house and estate are set to be restored and transformed into a hotel with around 30 to 35 bedrooms, a spa and a visitor centre, which will also feature an 80-cover restaurant using fresh produce from the kitchen garden, a 70-80-cover café, pool, farm shop and cider mill.
Planning permission from South Somerset District Council also allows for the repair and re-opening of the estate’s historic gardens to the public.
The hotel will be managed by Andrew Foulkes, former manager of the Abbey hotel in Bath and 2017 Cateys Manager of the Year. It is expected to open in April 2019.
The planning application reads: “The aspiration is to create a high quality environment which will enable the historic park, gardens and buildings to be accessible to the public and to accommodate up to 100,000 visitors per year.
“Through these proposals there is a vision to give visitors the most exciting experience of what rural Somerset has to offer, including orchards and apple growing; walks through woodlands, parkland and gardens; and exploring the local heritage of cheese and cider production as well as the contemporary culture of good local produce and fine dining.”
The aim is to retain the features, materials and character of the existing buildings and to use traditional techniques and local materials to retain the farmstead feel.
The project is being overseen by Benjamin + Beauchamp Architects and AZ Urban Studio.