Stortford's former Royal British Legion site for sale for more than £1m
Bishop's Stortford's iconic former Royal British Legion club, which was bought for £3,000 in 1948, is on the market for offers in excess of £1m.
The armed forces support charity was forced to quit the 18th-century, grade II listed Windhill premises in September last year by central office, amid spiralling maintenance and repair costs.
It is now being sold by North Street estate agent Knight Frank. Negotiator Jonathan Stratford said that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an imposing family home in one of the town’s most prestigious spots.
What is clear is that any new owner will need to make a substantial investment in the building “which is in a state of interior and exterior dilapidation”.
The Legion, which is now based at the New Apton Centre, closed the club amid speculation it was facing a repair bill of up to £2m.
The property, set on a plot of 0.4 acres with a mature walled garden, comprises cellars, six reception rooms on the ground floor with an entrance hall, a bar area and kitchen. There is also a log store, boiler room and two cloakrooms.
Upstairs, there are five bedrooms and a bathroom. In total, the stucco-fronted property extends to more than 7,000 sq ft.
Anticipating keen interest, Mr Stratford is asking for best and final offers before noon on Wednesday, December 5, following a series of open days throughout November and at the start of December.
The buyer will be purchasing a unique slice of Bishop’s Stortford’s heritage.
The town’s Royal British Legion branch was founded in a small Air Raid Precaution hut behind Bishop’s Stortford Football Club’s original ground at Rhodes Avenue in 1921 – the same year the national organisation was founded to give practical help and companionship to all ex-servicemen of the First World War and their dependants.
By the end of the Second World War, members including Boyd Gibbons and Jim Fuller decided returning servicemen needed better provision.
Their friend Phillip Rust – who lost three sons in the conflict – offered them No 28 Windhill at a nominal sum. Secretary Jack Gallimore enlisted financial support from Legion members and businessmen Jack Tissiman, Bernard Sparrow and Colonel Grant, who managed the match factory at Hockerill. The £3,000 deal was completed on October 11, 1948, and the “necessary” bar area was added soon after.
After American crooner Bing Crosby and the Royal Family turned down invitations to open the club, three film stars of the day – Dereck de Marney, Rosalind Johns and Meg Jenkins – attended.
The Royal British Legion Bishop’s Stortford Branch and Women’s Section are now based at the New Apton Centre.
For more details about the open days and sale terms, contact Knight Frank on 01279 213340.