A 900-year-old Burgundian abbey in France has been bought by the owners of Amberley Castle, despite stiff opposition from the locals.
The Cummings family intend to spend £3m developing L'Abbaye de la Bussire, refurbishing the ecclesiastical retreat into a 20-bedroom country house hotel.
But the plans remain highly controversial after locals raised a petition with more than 2,000 signatures against the sale of the abbey, claiming it was gifted to the church.
Martin Cummings said: "Our plans are well thought of by the tourist authorities, the local politicians and mayor in La Bussire and we have lots of people supporting us.
"We are spending more than £1m on the conversion, draining the lake and other works. Once it's finished it will be a gem."
Cummings explained the goal was to create a unique pan-European hotel business. "After L'Abbaye we hope to have a Schloss in Germany, a Parador in Spain and villa in Italy. Then we will be a really exciting one-off consortium of upmarket chteaux and castles."