North East leisure operator The Apartment Group is expanding its portfolio of unique wedding venues with the acquisition of a landmark County Durham property.
The Newcastle-headquartered firm has acquired the Grade II* listed Lartington Hall near Barnard Castle for an undisclosed sum and is now set to invest around £1m in upgrading the facilities at the 17th century property in line with its historic character.
Around 30 new jobs are being created at the venue, which was previously in private ownership and had been closed for the last two years as a result of the impact of the pandemic.
It’s the second wedding venue to be acquired by The Apartment Group this year, following the purchase of the Croft Hotel at Croft-on-Tees in January, and the company is continuing to work on further similar acquisitions, with plans in place for future expansion into Yorkshire and along the M62 corridor.
The Lartington Hall acquisition has been completed with the support of a financial package from NatWest, while John Morgan and Jennifer Boynton at long-term advisors Hay & Kilner worked with The Apartment Group management team on the deal.
Set within 75 acres of peaceful parkland, Lartington Hall includes 12 luxury double bedrooms, as well as a stylish Grand Ballroom, spectacular ornamental gardens and a private chapel.
The earliest part of the property dates back to 1635, with an extensive restoration of the building being carried out in the 1980s in conjunction with the Historic Buildings Council.
In addition to having a Grade II* listing, which denotes it as being a particularly important building of more than special interest, Lartington Hall’s ornamental garden, garden wall, entrance gates and garden steps are all separately Grade II listed.
The Apartment Group also owns Runa Hall, on the eastern side of Barnard Castle, which opened last year, while its other wedding venues around the North East include Newton Hall near Alnwick, Le Petit Chateau in Northumberland and the Grade II listed Whitworth Hall in County Durham.
Apartment Group founder Duncan Fisher says: “Lartington Hall is a unique destination set in a heart-stoppingly beautiful place and fits perfectly into a growing portfolio of wedding venues that each have their own stories to tell.
“We believe that we’re only the sixth owners of Lartington Hall in almost four centuries, and we’re very grateful to John and Shona Harper-Wilkes for entrusting us with the future of this magnificent property.
“We have a range of plans in place to enhance what Lartington Hall offers to our guests, and will be working closely with the heritage and planning authorities to ensure everything we do is wholly sympathetic to its history and character.”
Stuart Bailey, CEO of The Apartment Group, adds: “Our concept of offering affordable luxury in a series of unique venues is proving extremely successful and we plan to continue widening our presence in select locations across northern England.
“NatWest’s backing for this latest project is clear recognition of the commercial strength of our business plan, while Hay & Kilner’s advice and guidance is a central part of our continuing growth strategy.”
Mike Cross, relationship director at NatWest, says: “The bank has supported many projects with The Apartment Group and it’s fantastic to see them add to their growing portfolio.
“It’s been a real pleasure to work with the team, as well as Hay & Kilner, to create a finance package that can help bring Lartington Hall back into use. I look forward to seeing Lartington Hall become another established venue for the Group.”
John Morgan, partner in the commercial property team at Hay & Kilner,
adds: “We are very pleased to have helped the Apartment Group management team complete this latest acquisition and to be supporting the business as it continues the development of a truly unique property portfolio.”