Norfolk hotel and wedding venue is put up for sale

The future of a south Norfolk hotel and wedding venue has been cast into doubt after it was put up for sale on the eve of being featured on a prime time television programme.

Gissing Hall, near Diss, will star in the new series of Country House Rescue, which will be shown on Channel 4 tonight. The television programme sends business guru Ruth Watson to stately homes to advise owners on ways to diversify and increase turnover.

However, it emerged yesterday that the 19th century country mansion has been placed on the market with a �1.5m price tag by its owners William and Ann Brennan.

The couple bought Gissing Hall 25 years ago as a family home, but escalating costs forced them to open it up as a hotel to help pay the bills.

In tonight's Country House Rescue episode the owners are encouraged to wind-down the hotel operation and focus more on the wedding side of the business.

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Mr Brennan said they had taken the advice of Ruth Watson, but it had been 18 months since the Channel 4 show had been filmed and the couple had started to think about retirement. He added that all bookings will be honoured.

'We are trying to sell. Ruth Watson advised us that it was a hopeless location for a hotel and that we concentrate on the weddings. We are almost 70 and we are getting on. A year and a half ago we had plenty of enthusiasm, but recently it has got more difficult,' he said.

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Mr and Mrs Brennan had submitted a planning application to South Norfolk Council to return the hotel and wedding venue to a private home, which has been placed on hold now that the building is up for sale.

The listed 20-bedroom mansion in Upper Street, Gissing, is currently being marketed by Chesterton Humberts, which includes its five acre gardens and separate owner's house. The couple completed a refurbishment of some of the rooms and bridal suite and hired a new general manager on the recommendation of Ruth Watson.

Mr Brennan added that they had been sent a preview copy of the show, which will be aired at 8pm on Channel 4.

'It is very good and we come across seriously wet, but we were one of the few people to be featured on Country House Rescue who did what we were told to do.'

'If it gets enough of a push from the show, we may be able to keep going. We want to retire really and we hope to retire with a successful business running profitably without much input from us, but it is very difficult to do that and regretfully, we will probably be moving on,' he said.

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