Kersey: Mill and maltings complex under new ownership

THE new owner of a former weddings venue which ceased trading last year is planning to let part of the complex for business use.

Kersey Mill, which includes a Grade II* listed mill house and watermill, together with a Grade II listed converted maltings, and stand in grounds of around 16 acres on the banks of the River Brett near Hadleigh, has been bought by businessman Stephen de Lara-Bell, and his wife Alison.

They plan to make the Georgian mill house their family home while the maltings building is to be converted and let as office space.

Mr de Lara-Bell, who until five years ago was co-owner of Frost’s estate agency in Hadleigh, said: “Kersey Mill and Maltings is a beautiful group of buildings in a wonderful setting, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to purchase it. The whole family were smitten with it the moment we stepped inside

“The house has some fine period features and magnificent gardens and will become our home after some refurbishment. We look forward to developing and expanding the commercial section further, where extensive refurbishment will also be undertaken, beginning with the former maltings,”

The family also plans to restore the watermill building which retains its original mill machinery and waterwheel.

The Suffolk Mills Group is being consulted on refurbishment work, and Mr de Lara-Bell said he would also welcome any advice from mill specialists, or information on the history of Kersey Mill.

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A range of office buildings adjacent to the maltings, ranging from 560 sq ft to 3,730 sq ft, is already equipped for modern day requirements including uninterrupted power supply and internet connections and these units are available to let immediately.

Kersey Mill was sold through agents Fenn Wright and Carter Jonas. It was previously a popular wedding and hospitality venue, with other buildings providing office suites, a gym and a beauty and hair salon totalling around 11,395 sq ft.

Dozens of couples with wedding bookings were left out of pocket when Kersey Mill Ltd, the company run by Rodney Kerr and Christina Mellor which operated the venue under a lease and had been trading profitably, was forced to cease trading in March last year after its landlord, the Rathbone Trust Company, which owned the property on behalf of a family trust, was evicted by the C Hoare & Co bank .

Mr Kerr told the EADT: “This left Kersey Mill Ltd nowhere from which to trade, and the directors were advised by lawyers that they had no choice but to put the company into voluntary liquidation.

“The directors of the company had been in negotiations with the bank up until the day before the eviction, with a view to purchasing the property from the bank; funding was available.

“The company had no direct relationship with the bank and neither Christina Mellor nor myself had been trustees of the trust since 2005.“

The buildings were put up for sale on the open market the following month with a guide price of �1.8million, but the liquidators of Kersey Mill Ltd warned at the time that unsecured creditors would receive nothing from the proceeds of any sale, and that there was a shortfall of more than �600,000 between the company’s assets and liabilities.

Mr de Lara-Bell was born in Singapore and spent his early years in New Zealand but moved to Bildeston with his family in 1966. His wife was born in Hadleigh. They have two sons, one who is a baker and the other who runs his own building company, Premier Building and Fencing, which Mr de Lara Bell is sure will prove invaluable in the months of refurbishment to come.