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Ashdown Park Hotel celebrates 25 years at gala dinner

East Sussex hotel Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club celebrated its 25th year as a hotel with a celebratory gala dinner in October.

Taking place on Saturday 27 October, ahead of the hotel’s official opening anniversary on 11 November, the gala dinner was held in Ashdown Park’s neo gothic converted chapel, the Richard Towneley Suite.

Built in 1924 and consecrated in 1927 by the Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame (during Ashdown Park’s time as a teaching convent from 1919-1971), the chapel boasts high vaulted ceilings with wooden carvings, glorious stain glass windows designed by Harry Clarke and a large working organ and bell tower.

The 25th anniversary dinner was hosted by managing director of Elite Hotels Graeme Bateman, who also opened the hotel as general manager in 1993.

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Guests were welcomed with a Champagne and canapés reception, followed by a gourmet dinner with a menu that nodded to the original menu from the grand opening, that included Lloyd Grossman as special guest.

Entertainment throughout the evening came from West End show band Too Darn Hot, performing hits from stage favourites over the past 25 years, with performers and musicians who have appeared on stage at some of the West End’s biggest shows.

Ashdown Park Hotel is steeped in history, with records of a mansion house on the estate dating back to the early 1800s and work on the existing house starting in 1867. During World War I Ashdown Park was used as a hospital and convalescent home for Belgian soldiers, before being taken over as a convent in 1920.

The nuns remained at Ashdown Park for 50 years, until in 1971 the property was bought by the United States International University in 1971 and the chapel deconsecrated. In 1974 Barclays Bank took over Ashdown Park to use as a training centre, before current owners Elite Hotels bought the site in 1993 and opened Ashdown Park as a luxury hotel and country club.

Managing director of Elite Hotels, Graeme Bateman, said: “The 25th anniversary gala dinner was a fantastic way to celebrate such a significant milestone and everything that we have achieved here at Ashdown Park, including the hard work of the whole team, support of many suppliers and the loyal guests who have been returning year after year. It was truly a night to remember, and now I’m looking forward to all of the exciting plans we have for Ashdown Park’s next 25 years.”

Ashdown Park Hotel has also commemorated its 25th anniversary with the commissioning of a fountain sculpture outside the main entrance of the mansion house. Designed by award-winning metal sculptor Ian Gill, the ‘Singing Lily’ sculpture features water cascading over 25 lilies to mark the anniversary.

For more information about Ashdown Park Hotel, visit www.ashdownpark.com

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