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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Former top Lake District hotel facing uncertain future after being emptied

One of Cumbria’s most distinctive country houses faces an uncertain future after its contents were cleared amid tight security.

Underscar Manor photo
Underscar Manor, near Keswick

Underscar Manor, at Applethwaite, near Keswick, which only five years ago was visited by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, has had its locks changed and its two gated entrances padlocked.

For 19 years, until November 2009, the imposing property was run as a hotel by its then owners Derek and Pauline Harrison and Gordon Evans.

With spectacular views from the lower slopes of Skiddaw, and impressive gardens, Underscar was popular with celebrities, including the television presenter Jonathan Dimbleby and the Queen’s photographer John Swanell.

It was eventually sold to a wealthy Russian businessman, who has been seen only rarely at Underscar Manor but has commissioned considerable building work there.

This has included the erection of a number of impressive ornamental pagodas. Two life-sized stone statues of stags now also stand, sentry-like, at the manor’s entrance.

Over last weekend, say locals, there was a flurry of activity at the house as its contents were removed under the watchful eye of security staff. People walking in nearby woodland have been turned away by someone describing himself as a security worker.

One resident said: “We’ve heard that the Russian man who owns Underscar had given it to his wife. They were taking his stuff away over the weekend, including a Jaguar car which has been parked outside the place for the last two years.”

A locksmith, said to be acting for the man’s wife, was hired to change the locks at the property and to install CCTV, which is now in operation.

Most neighbours said they had heard the rumour that the owner’s wife had assumed ownership of Underscar Manor as well as other properties. Most were unwilling to be named. One who did comment was 75-year-old June Jude.

She said: “There were certainly movements there over the weekend.

“It used to be a very salubrious five-star hotel, which served very nice food.

“It’s always been a very nice place.

“People just want to know what is going on.”

Another local said: “Some people are saying that this woman will be coming to live there.”

A notice pinned to the front door of Underscar Manor confirms that the locks have been changed and gives contact details for the owners solicitors, the London-based law firm Mischon De Reya. The Cumberland News contacted the firm for comment but none was forthcoming.

As a hotel, Underscar Manor won a place in the 2009 Good Food Guide, recognising it as one of the top places to eat in the country.

The visit by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh involved the royal couple having lunch there while they were in Cumbria to help celebrate Whitehaven’s 300th anniversary.

The lunch – hosted by Cumbria County Council and Lord Lieutenant James Cropper – saw Her Majesty tuck into a starter of quail with a leek and pine kernel cannelloni and sweet and sour sauce, followed by a main course of roe deer with a venison casserole.

Adjacent to the property is a time share development and the prestigious Oxley’s at Underscar health spa.

Underscar Manor is now comprehensively monitored by CCTV security cameras.

Have your say

leave the new owners alone.noone has the right to judge and i dont blame them putting security in to stop nosy parkers.

Posted by june terry on 27 August 2013 at 10:36

It's good to see that the warm,welcoming tradition to newcomers continues. I hope this insular viewpoint is not the prevailing attitude in the county.The world moves on!

Posted by Stephen Simpson on 26 August 2013 at 10:22

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