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Luxury Chester city centre wedding venue represents £5m investment

Wedding and events business expected to host events from this autumn

The Old Palace, overlooking the River Dee in Chester

Funders behind a luxury wedding and events business are investing £5m in the Chester venue, which is expected to host events from this autumn.

Plans were recently approved to transform the one time official residence for the Bishops of Chester into a wedding venue with 24 en suite hotel rooms.

Now it has been revealed VCT and EIS funds, managed by Downing LLP, are investing £5m to support Exclusive Events Venues (EEV) in acquiring and redeveloping Chester’s Old Bishop’s Palace which overlooks the River Dee.

The Old Palace, overlooking the River Dee in Chester

A statement issued by Downing says: “The impressive building is currently vacant but is expected to start hosting events in autumn 2017 before undergoing an extensive refurbishment programme in early 2018. The site will relaunch as a stunning exclusive-use wedding venue, including a new function room with views of the city walls and Roman gardens.”

The 18th century, Grade II* listed mansion, also known as The Old Palace, boasts commanding views over the Dee and is the former residence of the Bishops of Chester. EEV has been working closely with Historic England and Cheshire West and Chester Council to ensure the refurbishments are sensitive to the historic nature of the building.

The Old Palace, overlooking the River Dee in Chester

EEV is led by entrepreneur and founder Simon Matthews-Williams, who brings decades of hospitality experience to this project. Artemis Venue Services, a leading promoter and operator of UK wedding venues, co-invested alongside Downing-managed funds and will provide operational expertise to EEV.

Mr Matthews-Williams said: “Downing has been a true partner in this investment, providing both the strategic and financial support to help us acquire such a fantastic, historic property in the heart of Chester. We are delighted to work with them and Artemis in bringing Old Bishop’s Palace back to the public as an exclusive-use wedding venue.”

The Old Palace, overlooking the River Dee in Chester

David Martin Smith, investment manager at Downing LLP, said: “We are excited to support an industry-leading management team to acquire a stunning property with huge potential. Wedding venues provide a fantastic alternative use for properties with character, which are often unsuited to other leisure offerings.

“The highly cash generative business model makes it an attractive sector for our investors. We look forward to working alongside EEV and Artemis to grow this business into a leading exclusive-use wedding and events venue in Chester.”

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