Augill Castle, an iconic Victorian country house hotel in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, is being offered for sale by the specialist hotels team at real estate advisors Colliers International.
Offers in the region of £2.5m are sought for the Castle built in approximately 1841 as a Victorian gentleman’s country residence and set in 12 acres of private grounds at Kirkby Stephen in the Upper Eden Valley between the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales with the backdrop of the North Pennines.
The castle operates as a country house hotel and wedding venue with 15 letting bedrooms including eight in the castle with individual styling such as four poster beds and turrets as wardrobes, a further seven in external cottage suites or estate houses and a five-bed owner’s cottage in its own private gardens.
Augill features towers, turrets, mullioned windows and leaded lights, a grand hall with Jacobean oak panelled walls, a drawing room and dining room with ornate fireplaces and wood burner stoves, a conservatory bar and small cinema.
Augill attracts an international clientele from the corporate and private sectors – for example, three of its past four wedding ceremonies involved couples from overseas – and has enjoyed a steady rise in turnover and profits for the past four years.
Among the business’s many awards and accreditations is the Enjoy England Award for Excellence Gold Award and a ranking in The Sunday Times’ 100 Ultimate British Hotels list for two years, one of only 37 hotels to do so.
It sits in the heart of some of the United Kingdom’s best grouse shooting territory and is easily accessible, being a short distance from the A66 main arterial route and 16 miles from the M6 with links to international airports at Manchester and Liverpool.
Augill has been owned and operated for almost 20 years by former Mayfair restaurateurs Simon and Wendy Bennett. The couple invested in a major refurbishment programme but now plan to ‘step back’ from the operation and offer a new owner the chance to ‘take the business to the next level’.
Simon said: “It would be easy to think that turning a near derelict castle into a successful hotel is achievement enough in a lifetime but we are keen for a new challenge now. There is still huge potential here but it is time for someone else to take Augill to the next level. A spa perhaps, or a purpose-built meeting or function space. There’s potential for so much.”
The couple’s time at Augill was the inspiration for 'Undressed For Dinner’, a book written by Simon about building a business and bringing up a young family – trying to lead an ordinary family life in an extraordinary place – which won the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of the Year Award in 2014. A sequel, lifting the lid on further aspects of living and working in a castle and entitled, ‘Stop For Breakfast’, is almost ready to go to print.
Neil Thomson, associate director, hotels agency at the Manchester office of Colliers International is undertaking the sale on behalf of the couple and said: “The property is a unique and characterful building situated in the stunning scenery of the Upper Eden Valley and boasting a highly successful and profitable business developed through the years by Simon and Wendy.
“The business attracts a wide ranging trade from both the private and corporate leisure sectors and is a well-established wedding and private hire venue. We hope to generate considerable interest for this rare opportunity from both sectors.”