Old Deanery attracts good level of interest

October 01 2020
Old Deanery attracts good level of interest

THE Diocese of Bath and Wells says that there has been plenty of interest in The Old Deanery since it went back up for sale.

The historic building on Cathedral Green is being marketed again with a guide price of £1.6 million. It was being used as diocesan offices but staff have now been relocated to Flourish House at Cathedral Avenue.

A spokesperson for the Diocese said: “We are very pleased with the level of interest shown in the Old Deanery since it was returned to the market.”

At least one potential purchaser is said to have submitted an offer and to have indicated that, if successful, they might be willing to work with the Save the Old Deanery community group to develop parts of the building for the benefit of local residents and tourists. The community group are awaiting further information but also remain keen on trying to buy the building themselves, and there have been discussions recently between representatives of the group and of the Diocese to explore things further. The group’s vision is to turn The Old Deanery into a community hub incorporating a world-class art gallery or museum, workshops, cafe and a restaurant.

The group say they have been overwhelmed with the level of public support for their campaign. More than 1,500 people have signed up to back their bid, and more support is coming in all the time.

“We’re determined to secure the building’s future for the people of Wells and its visitors, and we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that,” said a spokesperson for the group.

Discussing the sale of The Old Deanery in Country Life magazine in September, columnist ‘Athena’ described it as “one of the most important grand residential buildings from the 15th century to survive in Britain”.

The author said that given the interest, location and associations of the building, its future ought to be a matter for open discussion, and that “there should be some weight given to the public benefits of the sale, as opposed to the financial return in exclusivity”. The author draws parallels with the attempt by the Church Commissioners to sell The Bishop’s Palace at Wells “in the teeth of local opposition”, and concludes: “The result for the Commissioners was a humiliating fiasco. Please, let’s not have a repeat with the Old Deanery.”

• Picture: The Old Deanery is seen in the distance in this recently taken aerial image