CHATEAU IMPNEY, WORCESTERSHIRE

Grid Ref: SO 910 639
Date: 26 June 2013

 

Chateau Impney lies on the NE side of Droitwich Spa, off the A38 not far from Junction 5 on the M5. The Chateau is a Grade II* listed 19th century construction and has been a hotel since 1925. Not visible in my photograph are separate, more modern, buildings to the rear which provide additional accommodation and conference/wedding facilities.

Chateau Impney
Chateau Impney on a midsummer evening

 

The property, orginally called Impney Hall was built between 1873 and 1875 by John Corbett (1817-1901). He was a wealthy businessman involved in salt mining in Droitwich Spa and he became MP for Droitwich in 1874. He was elected again at three subsequent elections. He was part of the Liberal Unionists, who broke away from the Liberal Party in 1886 as they disagreed with the idea of Home Rule for Ireland. He retired as an MP in 1892. He built the house between 1873 and 1875 in the style of a Louis XIII chateau for his wife, Hannah Eliza O'Meara who had been brought up in France where her father worked as a secretary in the diplomatic corps. The architect was the Parisian, Auguste Tronquois and on site the work was supervised by the English architect Richard Phené Spiers. At the time the house cost £247,000. However, after 30 years of marriage, Corbett's wife left him to live on one of his properties in North Wales. Corbett sold his salt business in 1888 for £660,000 and spend much of his proceeds on charitable projects in the Droitwich area.

Following Corbett's death in 1901 the estate went first to his brother, until he died in 1906. Thereafter it went through various owners and after the Great War it lay unused for some years. Then, in 1925 it was sold for just £15,000 to James Ward of Worcester, who had been one of the building contractors for the house. Following some restoration the house was opened as Impney Manor Hotel. In the Second World War the hotel was requisitioned for the purposes of Officer Cadet training and was employed as a recruiting centre for the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a base for Air Raid wardens and a training centre for Civil Defence. There were camps in the grounds, one for Italian prisoners of war and one for Polish people who had fled their homeland.

The property was bought while still being used for military purposes by Ralph Edwards who was hoping to benefit from War Damages Settlements. He did not take possession until November 1946. The house had not been maintained during the war and and there was damage that was expensive to repair. However, Ralph Edwards undertook restoration and modernisation work on the house and replanted the gardens. Bedrooms were modified to give them private bathrooms. The property was reopened as an hotel in April 1949 under the name of Chateau Impney and was run by Ralph Edwards and his wife until 1963.

Since then it has changed hands a few more times. In 1971 it was acquired by Develop and Prosper Holding Ltd. who undertook refurbishment and reopened it in June 1972. The following year it was sold to Queens Moat Houses. In 1981 it was bought by the hotel manager, Stephen Raguz, who ran it until 2009. The hotel went into administration and in 2013 it was bought by what Wikipedia describes as "local interests" and given further restoration. When I stayed in June 2013 it was booked up for the night so it seems to be prospering again.

Sources

Chateau Impney Hotel website
Wikipedia articles on Chateau Impney on John Corbett

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