Stately home hopes to open new cafe to bring in visitors
The owners of a stately home are to open a new cafe for visitors as they try to increase their income to maintain the property.
Goodnestone Park, which is visited by 8,000 people each year, wants to replicate how the National Trust manages its historic sites.
The property is the family seat of Lord Fitzwalter, whose ancestors built the house in 1704 and have lived in the village ever since.
It is perhaps best known for its link with Jane Austen. The author made several visits to the property to see her brother, Edward, who had married into the family. Some even claimed it provided the inspiration for her best-known work, Pride and Prejudice.
However, the cost of its upkeep has proved a constant challenge and it recently opened for hire, allowing visitors free roam of the building and its acclaimed gardens. Now its owners hope the new cafe, which was approved by Dover District Council last week (Dec 19), will help fund maintenance costs for the 18th century house.
In their planning application, the owners say they have they have been “missing out” by not having such a revenue stream.
The application said: “The model we seek to follow is the National Trust’s. Virtually all trust properties have a restaurant and eating is very much part of the public’s expectation, especially after a lengthy hike. The National Trust’s cafes make a major financial contribution and we are missing out by not offering the equivalent.
“We do not anticipate the eating facility would significantly increase visitor numbers, people will not come just to eat, however it would significantly increase the income to be had from those numbers.
“The catering would be modest, more like a bistro than formal dining. The facility could also be let for functions outside of public opening times.”
The owners say they want to keep a “viable” entrance fee and hope the income from the cafe will allow them to keep the family ticket price at £16. The plans, which are supported by Goodnestone parish council, include a seating area in the courtyard as well as inside the Old Dairy.
Lord Fitzwalter at Goodnestone Park