Plan to turn former home of Catherine of Aragon into boutique hotel
Plans are being drawn up to transform the former home of Catherine of Aragon into a boutique hotel.
Castle Lodge in Ludlow is one of the town's most historic buildings but had begun to fall into disrepair.
It was sold in the summer of 2018 but the identity of the buyer – and what they had planned for the Grade II listed house – was a mystery.
The new owner, Ben Tagg, has now revealed his plans to restore the tired building to its former glory, and re-open it as a 12-bedroom hotel as early as next year.
"I couldn't help but see the building and see that it was looking a bit sorry for itself," said Ben, having first spotted it while visiting his brother in Ludlow.
"It was too good an opportunity to let pass me by, so I dived in – with not much of a plan."
Ben, who had never restored an historic building before, set about enlisting a team of experts to help make his vision a reality.
With an architect, heritage specialist, interior designer and digital marketer on board, and advice and support from hotel owners who have renovated similar properties, the plans began to take shape.
"I want it to be a place for everybody to enjoy," said Ben.
"It will be a boutique hotel with gorgeous rooms."
Having learned some of its history from the previous owner, he tasked heritage expert Sarah Greenwood with filling in the blanks.
Famous for being the residence of Catherine of Aragon while she was married to Prince Arthur – before wedding his younger brother Henry VIII after his death – Castle Lodge dates back to the 13th century.
It was rebuilt in 1580, and served a multitude of purposes over the years. It has always been privately owned, and was a hotel up until the Second World War. Most recently it was a private dwelling, and the previous owner opened it to the public as a museum.
"Sarah has done a lot of research and we are still uncovering things," said Ben.
"All of the history and heritage is its greatest asset, and if we didn't use that we would be missing a trick.
"Preserving that and looking after it is the number one priority."
Ben has also come up with a way to bring the house's fascinating past to life for staying guests.
He said: "The current thinking, which isn't get finalised, is that we will name each room after one of the particular characters from the building's past.
"There will be Catherine of Aragon of course, and there are some really fascinating people that Sarah has dug up. There is a botanist, a sea captain, MPs, right back to somebody in the 1300s who made shoes.
"We want to bring the building to life and it will be quite nice to tell the story of some of the people who have stayed there over the years."
There have been hurdles to overcome already, says Ben, but he is hopeful of the plans going in in the next few weeks, with a view to start work in the new year if permission is granted.