Acting on behalf of private investors, Colliers International’s Hotel’s agency team has sold Seckford Hall Hotel in Woodbridge, Suffolk – a 15th Century Grade II listed property where Queen Elizabeth I once held court, off a guide-price off £4.1million – to entrepreneurs, Michael Chittenden and Tammy Madge.
The historic country house hotel, which is furnished with furniture which can be traced back to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, is set in some 10 acres of land and is adjacent to the 18-hole Seckford Golf Course, has 32 en-suite bedrooms and a restaurant with room for 80 diners, together with multi-function events rooms, a beauty treatment spa and heated pool.
A detached former hunting lodge along with other outbuildings also formed part of the sale. The property was put on the market earlier this year with offers sought in the region of £4.1 million, although the final purchase price has not been revealed.
Paul Barrasford, Director in Hotels Agency at Colliers International commented: “East Anglia continues to be a very popular target area from a broad range of buyers for an equally diverse range of hotels. As such, it was no surprise that we received extensive interest for such a special property as Seckford Hall. We are delighted to have sold it expert operator Michael Chittenden. The hotel is in great hands and it will be exciting to see how he takes it forward from here.
“In addition to Seckford, we have recently a number of hotels in the eastern region. These have included boutique hotels, chic urban retreats, specialist wedding venues and other country houses. Character hotel properties are always the subject of strong buyer demand. Whilst existing trading performance is important, the scope such properties offer for different hotel concepts and improved returns on investment are also very important.
“Hotels lead the way amongst the alternative investment sector. Despite some economic uncertainty, there are plenty of strong operators and product offerings that continue to deliver great returns to their owners and attract new ones to the sector.”
The hotel is located two miles outside of the market town of Woodbridge, on the River Deben. Nearby attractions include the famous Bawdsey Radar Station; Easton Farm Park; the ancient Anglo Saxon burial site of Sutton Hoo; Shawsgate Vineyard and Otley Hall. It is also an ideal base for exploring the Suffolk Heritage Coastline (a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and its stunning beaches, picturesque countryside and charming market towns.
The Hall was originally the dynastical home of the influential Seckford family. Thomas Seckford was an official of Queen Elizabeth I whom it is believed held court at Seckford Hall.
Subsequent and notable owners have included the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire, Members of Parliament, an army Colonel and the financial secretary to King George V. During World War II, the Hall was commandeered by the State and anti-aircraft guns were positioned in the hills surrounding the estate.
Mr Chittenden, who lived locally earlier in his life, is also the owner of nearby Woodhall Manor as well as another prestigious exclusive use venue in Cheltenham, Manor By The Lake, along with a number of other properties and regeneration sites.
“This is very much a dream come true for me,” he says. “This was where my parents brought me for special occasions when I was a boy – it was always THE place to go.
“There is a considerable amount of investment needed to upgrade the hotel as it was only partly renovated. We will be investing in those areas to bring the property up to date whilst being sensitive to its history. We will endeavour to make Seckford Hall the place of choice once again by offering good food, fun quirky spaces and importantly, family friendly. Like with all our venues, customer experience is very important and at the centre of all we do. We like to think we sell ‘moments that matter’. We will be spending considerable time training the current team with this in mind as well as deploying extensive recruitment campaigns.”
“This is such a fabulous property – steeped in history and an architectural gem – that small but important changes will soon make this one of the top hotels and event venues in this part of the UK.”