No more weddings at Harpenden’s manor house?

Rothamsted Manor

Rothamsted Manor - Credit: Archant

There will be no weddings at Harpenden’s Rothamsted Manor for the foreseeable future from next May.

The closure of the Harpenden House and Gleneagles Hotels has limited places in the town where couples can celebrate their marriage.

Now the availability of Rothamsted Manor is having to be reined in because of the expansion of the Rothamsted Research conference centre.

For now, the Grade 1 listed manor will continue to provide hostel-type accommodation for students and visitors and that remains the priority.

Concerts and internal meetings will also continue but the manor will not be open for external meetings or events to enable staff resources to be concentrated on the new conference centre which was expanded recently with its lecture theatre extended from a 200-seat to 300-seat capacity.

Stephen James, Rothamsted’s associate director, operations, said: “Rothamsted Manor’s principal purpose is to provide cheap, permanent bed and breakfast hostel accommodation for up to 40 students and visitors.

“It also makes space available for occasional meetings when Rothamsted Research staff need to get away from the office environment. We have been using the manor much more frequently during the current building work, which has taken half of our four meeting rooms and put our lecture hall out of use.

Most Read

“The wedding venue provision always has been, and must be for now, a minor activity that fits around everything else. As a consequence, we do not have permanent staff to cater for such events so these are all treated as a one-off.

“Given that it is the same team that operate both manor and main site conferencing, we have made the decision to concentrate on the activity in the new centre to ensure that is the huge success that it deserves to be.

“We want to do that really well. It will require a major effort by all involved so, for now we will no longer be taking on weddings or the like.”

Mr James suggested that after an unspecified period, Rothamsted would consider using the manor house again in other ways. The time frame depended on how quickly plans could be made, the type of project and how soon alternative accommodation could found for the residents of the manor.

He added: “We wish to make longer term plans to use the manor, in a more imaginative and sustainable way, which will require some investment and a step change in the management approach.

“Exactly what those priorities might be, has not been decided. Whichever route we take to go forward, will need to take account of its Grade I Listed status and all the challenges that presents to a successful business venture.”