Future of Christian centre Letton Hall in the balance
Mid-Norfolk Christian conference centre Letton Hall faces redundancies and a potentially bleak future as covid-19 hits the conference business.
Letton Hall is a grade 2 listed building located in mid-Norfolk offering retreats to church groups of up to 130 people at a time. The accommodation at the beautiful Georgian building, designed by architect Sir John Soane, comprises shared kitchen facilities, communal areas and shared bathrooms, which cannot be safely adapted to adhere to social distancing restrictions or abide by rules on social gatherings.
Assistant manager Tim Blanche said, “With the end of the furlough scheme this month, and the continued restrictions on gatherings, we find ourselves in a very difficult position.”
“At the end of this month we will be making the vast majority of our staff redundant and we will be keeping a very small team to see if we can continue until the situation improves. If nothing changes it seems very plausible that at some point in the early part of next year Letton could close on a permanent basis.”
Letton Hall was purchased by Peter Carroll in the 1970s for use as a Christian conference centre. Over the years hundreds of people have come to faith, laughed, cried and built community as they have attended retreats, youth events and Christian conferences.
The team at Letton Hall have been pursuing all avenues to save the business – they have explored government guidance and applied for the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grants to no avail. Tim said, “This is the reality of where we find ourselves, we will close unless more support from government or some other source becomes available.”
A glimmer of hope is that the Norfolk Wing of Letton Hall can be rented out to groups of up to six people. Tim thinks there is a possibility they could scrape through if the accommodation, which is a self-contained house, is let over the winter, but it wouldn’t be enough by itself.
Tim said, “We are here to serve the Christian community. If the community wants to keep on using Letton Hall, something needs to happen. We’ve got to the critical point that if nothing changes I can’t see us surviving.”
“If the worst comes to the worst, we’d have to put it on the market.”
Tim is aware that many people face similarly challenging situations up and down the country. He urges the Norfolk Christian community to pray for the future of Letton Hall, consider booking the Norfolk Wing for a family gathering, or to get in touch with suggested solutions!