THE FORMER Towner Art Gallery in Manor Gardens has finally been sold.
Contracts were initially exchanged on Gildredge Manor earlier this year but the completion deal did not go through until Monday, November 21, after weeks of delicate negotiations.
New owners Emma Chamberlain and Mark Hellicar said they were delighted the deal had been sealed and the manor house was finally theirs.
The couple also revealed their new plans for the building, which is currently in a very bad state of disrepair.
Mark and Emma are to restore the building, live there as a family, house their small seasonal language school business, Chamberlain School there, as well “develop one of Eastbourne’s most prestigious private venues suitable for exhibitions, fairs, conferences, parties and much more”.
Emma said, “We have a lot of hard work ahead but look forward to welcoming all our friends and partners at Gildredge Manor soon.
“To reflect the full history of the building we will be bringing back its original name of Gildredge Manor.
“Mark and I grew up in Eastbourne and bring 20 years each of experience in running businesses, marketing, hospitality and project management to this. We’re young, resourceful and bring much passion and energy to this project.
“In short we want to ensure the building is respected and loved and that friends, visitors and locals to Eastbourne can really enjoy it again for many years to come. We are aiming to be moved in and operational by next spring.”
The Manor House was built in about 1765 as a vicarage and by the 1900s was owned by Eastbourne Corporation – and later Eastbourne Borough Council. With a legacy of 22 paintings and £6,000 from Alderman John Towner, the Towner Art Gallery was born. It housed the Towner Art Gallery until a few years ago when the new Towner was built next to the Congress Theatre.
The Manor House was sold for re-development but was subsequently put back on the market. It remained unsold for three months until Rager & Roberts estate agents was asked to find a buyer.
Peter Roberts at the agents said, “Within a few weeks we agreed the sale to Emma Chamberlain and Mark Hellicar who plan not only to restore this wonderful and important house to its former glory as a family home but also enable public access for artistic and literary events, conferences, exhibitions and much more including housing their long established language school which, coincidentally, means it follows in the footsteps of the grand old Devonshire family home at Compton Place. Everyone at Rager & Roberts wishes Emma and Mark success in this exciting new venture.”