New owners for Woodchester convent set to open hotel
A WORLD away from the nuns who lived there for 151 years, a former convent is to be turned in to a members' club, spa and luxury boutique hotel.
After the last five nuns left the convent of Poor Clares in South Woodchester 18 months ago, a price tag of £2.25 million proved too hefty and the guide price was dropped by £550,000.
It was out of reach of two community plans for housing, but Matt and Charlotte Roberts have snapped it up and will open the doors to the Convent Hotel & Spa next month, following six months of redevelopment.
The £3.5m redevelopment of the 26 acre site will be completed in Spring 2015 and they say they will respect its past.
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The first phase launch in October will see the bar and event space open followed by the restaurant in late November.
The Spa and the 18th Century chapel, which will be a small acoustic venue for concerts, are due for launch in 2015.
"We were fully aware of the heritage of the building when we developed our plans for the site, we want the Convent Hotel & Spa to be as 'local' as possible," said Matt. "My wife Charlotte has strong links with the area and is driving the revitalisation of some of the older traditions in the grounds.
"We have employed local tradesmen to work on the development and we will be looking to employ local staff in the next few months for a range of positions.
"We were adamant on keeping the convent name in the new venture to retain an essence of its history."
On October 5, The Convent will open its doors for a curtain raising event which will serve as both a preview of the facilities and as an opportunity to raise some funds for the Stroud Foodbank.
The theme of the event is 1920s glamour and will feature an electric swing circus and The Mike Alexander Band. The entertainment will be accompanied with cocktails and canapés.
"We know the local community have been interested in our progress, the sisters were part of this community for many years," said Matt. "We thought an opening event would be an ideal chance, to come and see how we are keeping that sense of community alive, alongside making plans for the longer term commercial success of the building."
Founded in 1860, it had a full complement of 30 Poor Clare sisters in 1950 but, by 1980, that figure had halved. In 2000, there were 14 nuns.