Despite the continued visitor success of the more famous country houses such as Castle Howard, the closure of Cherkley Court in Leatherhead, Surrey, to the public shows that the smaller houses can find it much harder to make a profit.
The house was built in the 1860s but rebuilt in a French chateau-style following a serious fire in 1893 and was home to the press baron Lord Beaverbrook. Now the charitable Beaverbrook Foundation which owns the house has decided that their funds can no longer subsidise the running of the house. Previously the grounds had been open to the public and a new cafe and gift shop had been built in 2008 but even this failed to lift visitor numbers sufficiently.
So what does the future hold? The foundation have confirmed that it will honour all events and weddings already booked but will not be taking any more. Although the house and estate was recently valued by Savills, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that it might be put up for sale. However this might actually be good solution as the many millions the sale would surely raise would be a healthy boost for the Foundation’s other charitable work but would also ensure that the house was in use which is the main protection against creeping neglect. Fingers crossed that whatever the outcome, this interesting house is preserved for the future.
Full story: ‘Beaverbrook’s Leatherhead country home Cherkley Court closes to public‘ [Epsom Guardian]