AN HISTORIC stately home near Alcester is adapting to meet the needs of 21st century.
Ragley Hall is set to host a new range of events as part of a major overhaul of its business activities.
The 18th century hall – which has been the home to the Hertford family for nine generations – already hosts local, regional and national events, but is now looking to further boost business.
The move, which has been agreed by the owners and trustees of the Grade I listed Palladian mansion and its 6,500 acre estate, has been designed to drive up income vital to maintain the house and grounds.
Every aspect of the estate’s business – which includes farming, a wood mill, farm shop, café and garden centre – has been looked at as part of the review which comes 60 years after the house was first opened to the public by the father of the present Marquess of Hertford.
Alan Granger, chief executive of Ragley Estate, said it was essential the estate continued to look at new ways of increasing income from all its commercial activities.
“Ragley, like all businesses, is constantly evolving and we have established a track record of ensuring that the commercial activities which allow for the upkeep and improvement of the main house have been successful.
“But the commercial pressures on rural business are, as people know, particularly acute and the whole industry faces an uncertain future, and we thought it was prudent to undertake a full review of our activities right across the board.
“We have hosted some very successful events in recent years from the Game Fair to concerts, and from car events to firework displays.
“In recent years we have found that demand from event companies is increasing and we believe our location in the centre of the country and the huge blank canvas in a superb setting offers event organisers massive scope.
“We have been in talks with a number of event companies and those will continue as we look to attract more business to Ragley, both in terms of public events and corporate hires.”
The Game Fair, which returns to Ragley this year, attracts 100,000 people over a three-day period. Other events planned for 2018 range from this month’s Snowdrop Walks to a concert by classical singing quartet Il Divo.
The gardens feature 400-acres of landscaped parkland and 26 acres of formal gardens created by Victorian designer Robert Marnock.
Mr Granger added: “It costs a six-figure sum to upkeep Ragley Hall and as leisure behaviour patterns change we need to move with the times.
“As a result we are also altering the opening times of the house and grounds, so they run in parallel with the event programme, rather than being open every weekend and will include the guided tours.
“We will also still be taking bookings from tour companies, as the estate is a popular attraction for international and national parties.
“These changes have been more than a year in the making, we have kept our staff informed throughout. We believe it is a very positive step forward and will help ensure the future of what is not only a wonderful ancestral home, but also a national treasure.”