Supporters mark 10th anniversary since relaunch of Kennaway House
PUBLISHED: 08:01 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:01 07 February 2018
It is a decade since the Kennaway House Trust officially launched after seven years of fundraising to restore the once Regency ruin to its former glory.
Supporters of Kennaway House are celebrating a decade since the completion of a £1million bid to save it.
The Kennaway House Trust officially launched on February 6, 2008, after seven years of fundraising to restore the once ‘dilapidated’ and ‘dangerous’ building and gardens.
The charity achieved its goal by securing £500,000 from the Lottery Heritage Fund, a grant from Sidmouth Town Council and community fundraising to begin work on the Regency building a decade ago.
Dr Michael James, who led the campaign to raise the funds and was elected the first chairman of the trust, said: “It’s very hard now to remember that the house was derelict in 2001 and parts of it were falling down.
“It wasn’t just dilapidated; the garden was closed off by a fence because it was all boggy. The right-hand side of the building was held up by props. It would have been demolished because it was dangerous.
“A great team worked unbelievably hard to raise that huge sum of money, because we’d fallen in love with this ruin – which the architect and the builders turned back into a beautiful Regency house.”
The trust was set up after members had officially raised the money.
Dr James said that without the lottery’s £500,000 grant the project would not have been achievable.
He said: “There was no realistic way that we were going to raise that kind of money.”
Built in 1805, the house had been known as Fort House and Church House and had been the Sidmouth home of Sir John Henry Kennaway, the first Member of Parliament for East Devon. It is now used for a range of classes, a monthly community market, weddings and events including meet the author.
Dr James said: “Even at the time, it had a nice warm homely feel to it in a rather grand way. It has been rewarding, it has been very busy ever since we opened and it’s nice to see people enjoying it.
He said the real celebrations will begin next year, to mark the house’s official opening on July 4, 2009, by Sir Hugo Swire MP.
He said this week: “That’s when its new life really began. It’s been brilliant to see its gallery, cellar bar, meeting rooms and garden being used by so many hundreds of people now, for nearly 10 years.”