Manor is ‘lost’ to community

THE daughter of the man who sold Urchfont Manor to the county has spoken of her sadness that it is to become a private home after Wiltshire Council accepted an offer above the guide price of £2.7 million.

Lisa Robinson, the daughter of Martin Rivers Pollock, who sold the Grade II* listed building to Wiltshire County Council in 1946, said: “I feel it is a great shame Urchfont Manor has been lost forever to the community, due to its sale by Wiltshire Council to someone who wishes to turn it into a family home.”

Mrs Robinson, who lives in Gloucestershire, said the news was particularly hard as Nigel Barklem, son of Tom Barklem, who was a member of staff at the former adult residential college for many years, had put together a bid to buy it and retain it for educational purposes.

He had put in an offer for the estate as early as April last year, but received no response from the council.

She said: “He was happy and determined to keep it as a residential college and had the support of many in his endeavours.

“But money always speaks – and the highest bid went to someone else, without regard for the hopes and efforts of the local and wider community or the hard-working staff who loved and always worked so hard for it and still hoped to continue to do so following its sale.

“Considering its long and successful history as an adult residential college, offering a wide range of interesting and life-enhancing opportunities to people from all over the world, as well as the local community, this is a very sad day for all who know and have been connected with this special place.”

Members of Urchfont Parish Council were among “interested parties” to receive an email just before Christmas to say the sale had gone through and one of the shortlisted bids had been accepted by Wiltshire Council.

The message from Stephen Morgan, the council officer in charge of the ‘transformation’ process of selling off council property, said: “This offer is from a party who intends to convert the manor back to a residential dwelling, who is keen to work with the council to secure the continued use of the cricket ground for the community and who also supports the council in providing a new access to Oakfrith Wood.”

Parish council clerk Bob Lunn said: “This looks like good news as far as the potential for the future of local community facilities are concerned.”

The name of the buyer has not been revealed as contracts have not yet been exchanged.

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