Jan. 3, 2013
-- As one of the most beautiful country house venues in England and as one of the premier venues for leisure pursuits in the area of Guildford in Surrey, it is only fitting that Barnett Hill has a history just as prestigious as the building’s reputation today. The building started out as nothing more than a wooded hilltop when Frank Cook, grandson of the famous travel agent Thomas Cook, purchased the site. On the 26 acres of land which he bought in 1905, he built a stunning Queen Anne-style house which cost £35,000 in total; a huge sum of money at the time.
In 1940, Mrs Cook came into ownership of the property after her husband passed away. She passed the house over to the Red Cross for use as a convalescent hospital during the war; a real-life Downton Abbey, which fulfilled the same purpose in the popular television show. Those injured during bomb blasts were cared for and rehabilitated at Barnett Hill, with the help of the St John War Organisation. In 1944, Mrs Cook actually handed over the deeds to the house to the British Red Cross, who decided to convert Barnett Hill into their National Training Centre.
By the 1970s, the high-running costs of the enormous building were beginning to affect the Red Cross, who decided to allow businesses to use the venue as a conference venue. Commercial courses on businesses were offered at the house, and rooms were developed into dedicated conference facilities. The 1990s saw Barnett Hill leased to the Chudley family, who already operated conference venue Highgate House in Northamptonshire, before Sundial Group purchased the stunning house outright in 2005.
Now, under Sundial Group’s ownership, Barnett Hill has become a luxury leisure destination as well as a specialist conference venue. A sauna and fully-equipped fitness suite are available for all guests and residents to use, with large-screen televisions and up-to-the-minute exercise machines to flex the mental and physical muscles. A games room situated next to the fitness suite includes a variety of table sports including table tennis, table football and pool.
The luxury Surrey conference hotel is situated in one of the most beautiful areas of countryside that England has to offer, and the outdoor pursuits that are available offer an opportunity to make the most of the surroundings. Croquet and volleyball are available to try out on-site, while the Woodland Walks take visitors on a complete tour of the beautifully manicured gardens and grounds. The surrounding area and the quaint town of Guildford are also recommended for guests to explore; mountain bikes can be hired from the reception area, and maps of local walking routs are available for all visitors. The leisure venue is a perfect countryside retreat for special occasions or simple getaways.
To view the new website and find out more about any of the Sundial Venues or other services offered by the group, please visit http://www.sundialgroup.com