Stately home hopes to open new cafe to bring in vis­i­tors

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Under The Umbrella - By Joe Wright jwright@thek­m­group.co.uk @joe_wright98

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.

Pic­ture: Andy Jones FM4402357

Lord Fitzwal­ter at Goodne­stone Park

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