Abbey House descendent seeks backing for local history venture

This Is Wiltshire: Gordon Lewis wants people to help him buy the property Gordon Lewis wants people to help him buy the property

A descendant of the Stumpe family who built Malmesbury’s Abbey House in 1542 has vowed to purchase the historic property and world famous gardens – despite the odds being stacked against him.

Gordon Lewis wants to buy the property, currently owned by Naked Gardeners Ian and Barbara Pollard, which was recently put on the market, with offers invited in excess of £3.5 million.

Mr Lewis does not have enough funds to cover the purchase and is looking to alternative options such as crowd funding, where those interested can pledge money in exchange for rewards, aimed at raising about £1million in addition to his own contributions.

The 55-year-old, who lives in Southampton, is adamant the environmentally friendly gardens should continue to be enjoyed by visitors and says a successful purchase would see this happen.

“If a major investor or two were to come forward I believe there would be the potential to offer a combined profit share,” he said.

“For smaller investors or donors I would offer a number of rewards such as free admission, season tickets or gift vouchers in exchange for the support offered.”

Mr Lewis, if successful, would also want to explore the possibility of offering regular living history sessions, opening the house to visitors and groups along with offering apprenticeship opportunities to young people.

Mr Lewis said: “I am passionate about history and historic properties, irrespective of whether there is any direct connection with my own family history. That is why I know that this project will succeed, but I need you to share my passion for this to happen.”

Anyone wishing to support Mr Lewis or wanting more information should visit www.gordonlewis.co.uk, email abbeyhouse1542@btopenworld.com, Twitter @AbbeyHouse1542 or visit www.facebook.com/abbeyhouseandgardens.

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