Plans for Chilford Hall in Linton to ‘rise from the ashes’

New Chilford Hall
New Chilford Hall

The owners of a historic hall burnt down by arsonists in June have vowed to ‘rise from the ashes’ and restore both the venue and their business.

A new marquee will be erected at Chilford Hall in Linton as a temporary replacement for the 18th Century barn which was razed on June 13.

A replacement for the barn could then be built by Spring 2014, with ideas including expanding the bistro, providing accommodation, and more.

Chilford Hall owner Fiona Alper, widow of Sam Alper who launched the hall as a venue in 1965, said: “It’s quite exciting really because we have this blank canvas and are not absolutely sure what we are going to do with it quite yet, and we’re interested to know if there’s anything particularly lacking in the are which we could include.

“We would like to expand the bistro for the vineyard, and possibly have some more smaller shops.

“We can never replace what we had as it was a Grade II listed building, but I’d love whatever we do to be done with natural materials that fit in with the surrounding countryside.”

The fire also razed the gallery, destroying much artwork by now-deceased artists, including some by Simon Alper who was an amateur sculptor himself.

Mark Hall, 28, and Thomas Richardson, 27, both from Pipers Close, Haverhill, were found guilty of burning down the venue following a two week trial at Cambridge Crown Court on December 21.

The pair caused around £4.5 million worth of damage to Chilford Hall and will be sentenced on February 8.

“I think they are two very troubled boys,” added Mrs Alper.

“What they did can’t be undone and we just have to look forward now as there’s no point crying over spilt milk because it doesn’t alter anything

“People that feel angry only hurt themselves so there’s no point in feeling that.

“I feel very upset that we have lost some wonderful treasures and all the hard work that was put into the barn over the years, but I live for today and tomorrow.”

The new marquee is being designed as an all-year fixture, purpose built to the management’s designs with hard sided glass, wooden flooring that is carpeted.

It will have a reception space and main dining area, accommodating 250 people.

It will open in March, with the winery and bistro reopening for the new season on March 2.

Anyone with ideas can call Chilford Hall on 01223895600.