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Salmestone Grange in Margate to close as a wedding venue

It has served as a rural retreat for monks and hosted hundreds of special days for brides and grooms, but now one of Kent's most sought-after wedding venues is set to close.

Salmestone Grange in Margate will hold its final marriage this summer as its owners say it is time for the "next chapter" of their lives.

The quaint Grade II listed property was bought by former county councillor William Whelan in 1984 - but since his death in August 2015 following a 10-year battle with Parkinson's disease, wife Angela says the family have been unsure of their next step.

Salmestone Grange (6450177)
Salmestone Grange (6450177)

Mrs Whelan says the decision has been made to pull the plug on hosting weddings at the 14th century site - but that the family has not yet agreed whether or not to sell up.

Staff, who were told at a meeting on Monday, have been given six months notice of the closure as they look to be let go at the end of June.

Mrs Whelan said: "We have been in discussion with what to do since William passed away three-and-a-half years ago.

"He was such a generous man and we have been sorting out his will, as he wanted to leave everyone he loved something."

"But things haven't been the same since he died.

Angela and William Whelan (6450187)
Angela and William Whelan (6450187)

"It is time for new ideas and new blood. We are doing everything in small stages, that seems to be the best way forward."

Mrs Whelan and family took the reins following her husband's death aged 77.

Mr Whelan represented Margate East as a Kent county councillor for 12 years, and was chairman of North Thanet Conservative Association.

After buying Salmestone Grange in 1984, which boasts a chapel consecrated in 1326, he spent the following 30 years making the former monks' retreat into one of the county's most beloved venues.

Mr and Mrs Whelan met in Margate in 1993, and married at the venue on Easter Sunday in 1996.

Salmestone Grange. Picture: Barry Duffield
Salmestone Grange. Picture: Barry Duffield

"We have had a blast at Salmestone Grange, it has been such fun, and we will miss it dearly," the 67-year-old added.

"But the time has come to move on. The final decision on whether to see Salmestone Grange has yet to be made.

"My children have been involved for a number of years and it is time they moved on to other things.

"I am not getting any younger either, and I might like to take some holidays.
"We just want to say thank you to our loyal customers .

"Staff I think will be sad to go when we let them go at the end of June, but I think some of our long standing staff expected it."

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