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Stone Court House Hotel, Maidstone, has been restored in multi-million pound makeover


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Ten years ago, the Stone Court Hotel on Lower Stone Street in Maidstone, was making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In 2012, police executed a search warrant on the premises as part of a bid to bust a drugs and prostitution racket.

Saban Demirbasa talking about the house

There was a certain irony - back in the 18th century the building had been used as lodgings for travelling judges hearing the most serious cases at the town’s crown court.

By 2015, the hotel had shut up shop and the building started to fall into a state of disrepair.

It was a low point for one of Maidstone’s historic buildings with a once proud history dating back nearly 700 years.

But after two years of extensive renovations worth millions of pounds, the newly-named Stone Court House is once again a proud addition to Maidstone's streets.

Transformed into a private home, its new owners hope to soon open its doors to guests for Airbnb-style accommodation.

The property, formerly known as Stone Court Hotel, was shut down after a police raid. Picture: Martin Apps
The property, formerly known as Stone Court Hotel, was shut down after a police raid. Picture: Martin Apps
Stone Court House, Maidstone, present day - returned to splendour after falling into disrepair
Stone Court House, Maidstone, present day - returned to splendour after falling into disrepair

Owners Saban and Belinda Demirbasa bought the Grade II-listed property back in August 2019 for the guide price of £550,000.

Saban, 52, said: “We were about to move away abroad, but we saw it come up in auction and it was very popular.

“However, many people didn’t go for it as the property was on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register and there was an enforcement order placed on it by the council. Another couple of winters and the house would have collapsed.

“When we got the funds, we phoned up the auction house and said we would like to buy it.”

Alice Brockway, Historic England’s inspector of historic buildings and areas, is delighted at the building’s transformation.

The building has a unique architectural style and design, with over 700 years of history
The building has a unique architectural style and design, with over 700 years of history
Saban and Belinda Demirbasa and their family have spent millions restoring the property
Saban and Belinda Demirbasa and their family have spent millions restoring the property

She explained: “Saban and Belinda have done the most extraordinary job.

“They have thrown all their passion and love into saving this amazing historic building, which now means it can be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register.”

She adds: “It’s been a really positive journey. They have faced enormous challenges when they took the building on.

“It was in a really poor state of repair, with a major structural issue in the front of the building. "But they approached the repair and conservation with open minds and have been really keen and passionate about learning and using traditional techniques and materials.”

The most interesting discovery the couple found when renovating the house was a Tudor fireplace, hidden behind a wall in one of the rooms.

The Tudor fireplace discovered during the renovation work
The Tudor fireplace discovered during the renovation work
Owner Belinda captured the process of uncovering the historic Tudor fireplace. Picture: Belinda Demirbasa
Owner Belinda captured the process of uncovering the historic Tudor fireplace. Picture: Belinda Demirbasa

Saban explained: “We didn’t know what was going on behind that wall as it was falling down. First suggestions were to inject it with lime to solidify it, then leave it.”

Once they got consent from Historic England, Saban was allowed to punch five holes into the collapsed wall.

“The first hammer blow I did, a Tudor fireplace appeared.

“I immediately phoned up Alice. Then I thought: ‘What do we do with this?’ The idea was to get it back into its original shape.”

While renovation work inside the building reaches its conclusion, its very obvious transformation has attracted many admiring glances.

Owners Saban and Belinda have preserved the buildings character and all its original features
Owners Saban and Belinda have preserved the buildings character and all its original features
A bathroom in the newly renovated Stone Court House
A bathroom in the newly renovated Stone Court House

In addition to the seal of approval from Historic England, the public body which aims to protect the nation’s historic environment, the family were able to show off their progress to local MP Helen Grant.

And she is only too aware of what a popular spot it is likely to become for tourists looking to rent rooms when it’s complete.

Mrs Grant said: “Stone Court House is a marvellous and utterly unique property in the middle of historic Maidstone, near the 14th Century Archbishop's Palace, Maidstone Museum and the beautiful river Medway.

“As well as having all the facilities of our county town on the doorstep, Stone Court House will also be a perfect location for tourists visiting other nearby Kent attractions, such as Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and the wonderful vineyards in the low Weald.

“I look forward to returning for the opening - watch this space.”

A beautiful chandelier, complete with an intricately carved ceiling, hangs in the kitchen
A beautiful chandelier, complete with an intricately carved ceiling, hangs in the kitchen
Stone Court House, has been fully restored
Stone Court House, has been fully restored

The couple plan on using the property as a family home and an Airbnb-style business.

Saban adds: “It’s too big as a family home...unless you have 16 kids!

“It doesn’t work as a hotel, because there is not enough room for staffing levels or parking.

“But it would be a cross between a family home and somewhere as a home to come and stay. The idea has always been ‘come and stay in our family home’.”

Stone Court House is set to be open for bookings for stays in April.

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