Couples lose deposits after popular wedding venue outside Eastbourne closes down
A number of couples say they have been left with their wedding dreams in tatters after a venue closed its doors without warning.
The English Wine Centre at Alfriston owes thousands of pounds to creditors including £14,500 to engaged couples who paid deposits to hold their special day there.
Worried brides and grooms discovered last week the business had closed and the property was earmarked for sale at an auction in February. Those owed money received a letter from directors of the English Wine Centre company, Robert James Blackman and Annette Blackman, and a second letter from Begbies Traynor advising them the Blackmans are taking steps to go into voluntary liquidation.
The sudden closure has seen many brides looking for alternative venues for their original date so they don’t lose other deposits paid to other wedding suppliers like florists and photographers.
Janice Vanstone is the mother of one bride who found out the landmark venue had closed when it was revealed it was listed for auction for sale with a £1.3million price tag.
“It has caused so much upset and heartache,” said Mrs Vanstone, whose daughter’s wedding was booked for August this year.
“The deposit was paid and a contract signed. Now we have lost our deposit and are having to find another venue but most places are booked up well in advance. This is just not acceptable at all.”
Nathan Thompson and his partner Glen Haffenden had also booked the centre for their August 2020 wedding and are now looking for another venue.
“The lack of communication was dreadful,” said Nathan, 28.
In a letter to creditors, Mr and Mrs Blackman said they are “devastated” they have closed and “had to let people down” and have laid part of the blame on the “landlord” which owns the centre, a company called C Munday Liability Limited Partnership where Colin and Christine Munday are listed as designated members.
Mr and Mrs Blackman say after almost a year trading, it became clear they needed to negotiate the rent for the centre and also tried to buy the venue but both requests were refused by the landlord.
The Herald contacted the Blackmans and Mr and Mrs Munday but had no response.