Country House Hotel, Isle of Wight (August 2020)

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Jan 4, 2020
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The estate sits in 48 acres, has a private beach and is home to a total of 44 bedrooms. The Grade-II listed country house offers 18 bedrooms, with additional letting accommodation in a converted barn and cottage developments. There are two restaurants within the property, as well as tennis courts, a six-hole golf course and a helipad outside.


Long before the Doomsday Book was written there was a monastery situated on the Estate, occupying a site that commands breathtaking views over the Solent and Spithead. The oldest surviving buildings on the Estate are our two thatched barns, situated to the south west of the hotel. Dating from about 1100, they are believed to have been part of the original Priory Farm. The imposing Tithe Barn, though now in ruin, was originally constructed in the 13th century and reconstructed in 1749. However, evidence found on nearby beach of Stone Age axes dating to around 345,000 years ago suggests the site of the hotel has been occupied for considerably longer. It appears that even our more basic ancestors knew what a perfect and sheltered spot the Priory occupies.

A 14th century portal provides an imposing entrance to the hotel. Tudor farmers and Georgian gentry have made their contributions to a charming medley of beautiful buildings. As a result, each of the bedrooms has its own very distinctive character and all are superbly furnished and appointed. The hotel has tried to retain as many original features as possible. The grounds are no less appealing. Gertrude Jekyll reputedly designed over seventy acres of peaceful woodland, lawns and terraced gardens here, and it is recorded that Queen Victoria sat beneath the magnificent magnolia trees.

The house itself, once described by Queen Victoria as “The Gross Nash little cottage by the sea”, has all the charm and atmosphere of a building which has had lavished upon it the care of succeeding owners from the days when it was the monastery’s farmhouse. Added to room by room, wing by wing, it is now a fine mansion suitably sited among the magnolia trees and flowerbeds with fine lawns sweeping towards the sea. Shortly after the dissolution of the Priory the estate and its revenues were granted to Eton, with the College later granting the lands to the Bursar of Eton as a thanks offering on the occasion of his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. The estate remained in the ownership of Eton College until 1799 when Sir Nash Grose, the founder of the Grose-Smith family, purchased it. Sir Grose, a judge, built the main block of the mansion very much as it is today. This included the panelled Bevin Room, the Drawing Room, the beautiful muralled Island Room and the main staircase leading to the bedrooms above.

1981 - Mr and Mrs Battle of Yorkshire bought the estate and ran a family hotel business here until 1997. During this time they built the new chalet style cottages which can be seen from the main driveway.

1997 - Present owners Andrew and James Palmer purchase the hotel. Closed for that winter whilst it underwent major refurbishment, the hotel re-opened at the end of June 1998.

September 2016 - The whole estate was put up for sale by Administrators for £3 million.

December 2017 - Aria Resorts purchase the estate with plans to invest £30 million into its redevelopment. Aria claimed that the property would undergo a significant refurbishment, and see the addition of a new spa and restaurants before relaunching to the public in early 2019.

March 2019 - Aria Resorts have been successful in their bid to get planning permission to completely upgrade the estate.

April 2019 - Ben Adams Architects has won planning for the redevelopment of the estate.

The March 2019 proposals from Aria Resorts aims to re-establish the site as a viable year-round holiday destination with a range of new accommodation added to the hotel plus improved and expanded facilities. The project is due to start on site in the summer and complete in 2020. **

August 2020 - No visible signs of any activity, regeneration, or otherwise, on site. The gardens are sadly overgrown and there is extensive water damage in several rooms, with the ceiling in the restaurant beginning to fall down.

** I appreciate that this may be borderline as to whether this is technically an abandoned place in many peoples eyes, however, it was almost entirely because the redevelopment project hadn't started yet, and because of the awful state of the grounds, that I decided to cautiously continue.

Interesting 'lil fact - The Drawing Room has an unusual and distinctive feature in that the fireplace has a window directly above it. This is very rare and probably the largest of its kind. Installed by Lady St George, there are actually two octagonal windows set into this chimney, one in the Drawing Room and the other directly above it in Room 4. Although a very unusual feature, it is not a practical one. The chimney flue is split in two and bends round the windows making it difficult to get a cheerful fire to draw in the grate, so alas it is no longer lit.


The once stunning pool and lawns;


Todays view is a little sadder;


The magnificent porch above the front entrance;





A selection of the outbuildings and further accommodation; (All locked)




The old barn, sadly destroyed by fire many years ago;





Inside the hotel;











The regeneration room;


Main reception;









Thanks for looking.
All the best.

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