Uncertainty surrounds future of Shrubland Hall in Suffolk – several months after it closed as hotel

The front gate to Shrubland Hall. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

The front gate to Shrubland Hall. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

Months after a Suffolk stately home’s brief spell as a luxury hotel ended amid a series of increasingly negative customer reviews – its future looks less certain than ever.

Shrubland Hall, pictured from the Shrubland Park Walk. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

Shrubland Hall, pictured from the Shrubland Park Walk. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

Shrubland Hall, north of Ipswich, shows no signs of reopening, appears to have fallen into disrepair and is understood to have become a private residence once again – though its owner has not responded to requests for comment.

The 18th Century mansion had opened as a hotel in November 2014 with the intention of taking “prestigious guests ... on a journey back to the future”.

With a menu designed by award-winning chefs and plans to create a “boutique hotel, restaurant and spa”, the initial response from guests had been encouraging.

Over the summer, however, the reviews became far less complimentary, with one likening it to Fawlty Towers, from the 1970s television comedy. By September, the hotel had shut its gates, taken down its website and was not answering calls.

A derelict outbuilding pictured from the Shrubland Park Walk. Picture: ANDREW HIRST

A derelict outbuilding pictured from the Shrubland Park Walk. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

Its owner, Muhammad Farmer, whose background is in higher education and technology, responded to an emailed booking enquiry by saying a “celebrity guest” had reserved the hall until the end of the year.

This week, viewed from the Shrubland Park Walk – a public right of way that passes through the grounds of the Grade II listed estate – the hall appeared an unlikely retreat for any film or music star. The only sign of activity was an older man chopping wood with a chainsaw. Many of the outbuildings appeared in disrepair and the vast grounds left overgrown.

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People living nearby said the hall had not admitted any guests since the summer, though its owner was said to have visited on some weekends.

Alan Knight and Henrietta Lewis, who stayed at the hotel with friends in July, believe they were its last guests. The couple, who live in Framlingham, said they had experienced one of the strangest weekends they can remember there. “It was very surreal,” said Mr Knight.

One of the derelict outbuildings in the grounds of Shrubland Hall, pictured from the Shrubland Park

One of the derelict outbuildings in the grounds of Shrubland Hall, pictured from the Shrubland Park Walk. Picture: ANDREW HIRST - Credit: Archant

Mid Suffolk District Council, which refused a change of use request in 2015 when the hall sought permission to conduct wedding ceremonies within the estate, said it had not received any updates since.

Do you know what is happening at the hall? Email us with your views.