Fundraising appeal for historic banqueting hall to mark Waterloo

From left, Susan MacLaurin-Pratt, Alan Freer and Susans husband Richard Pratt.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (150974-6)
From left, Susan MacLaurin-Pratt, Alan Freer and Susans husband Richard Pratt.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150974-6)
  • Former owner commissioned room to honour Battle of Waterloo
  • Grade II listed building owned owned by charity
  • £20,000 appeal launched to restore it to former glory
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ON THE 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo an appeal has been launched to restore a historic ‘gem’ built in honour of the great victory over Napoleon.

The Elms is a 17th century Grade II-listed manor house, in Old Bedhampton, owned by the charity Manor Trust which provides housing for retired people.

In 1828 the former owner, minor aristocrat Theophilus Lee, commissioned a stunning banqueting hall to mark the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo.

But the Strawberry Hill Gothic building is in urgent need of restoration with the tower and the roof requiring £20,000 worth of work.

The 8th Duke of Wellington, who died in December, was patron of Manor Trust. The trustees have now launched an appeal on the anniversary of the battle to raise the money for the restoration project.

Richard Pratt, the vice chairman of the trust, said: ‘It is difficult to overstate the relief people felt when Napoleon was finally done and dusted at the Battle of Waterloo.

‘It would be like England winning the World Cup now – people went loopy.

‘Wellington was feted, as was Nelson. Theophilus Lee was somewhat of a social climber and he wanted somewhere decent to entertain should the Prince Regent, Prince Albert, drop by.

‘Unfortunately he didn’t have much money and cut corners. And that is what we’re dealing with now.’

The tower at the front of the house is a façade and the mouldings and figure heads are degrading.

The original lime render needs replacing and leaks in the roof need to be fixed before the Waterloo room can be redecorated. The work is governed by strict conservation rules and special cement and paint must be used – meaning it will be an expensive job.

Letters have gone out to more than 1,000 businesses asking if they would consider making a donation to the work.

Mr Pratt: ‘We would have loved to have had it completed by the bicentenary but it is a very big expense for a small charity. We felt it would be an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary with the community.

‘It is vital we raise this money. It really is the gem of Bedhampton.’

The Elms is open until 7pm tonight for businesses to find out more about sponsoring the restoration, and from 10am until 4pm on Sunday.

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