The owner of Stanmer House has put the listed mansion up for sale for £2million seven years after he embarked on its restoration – but with a manslaughter case over the death of a workman there still hanging over his head.
Mike Holland bought a 125-year leasehold on the then-dilapidated stately home from Brighton and Hove City Council in 2009, and transformed it into a successful function venue.
It was later sublet to pub company Whiting and Hammond and more recently Proud Publishing. However, although Mr Holland says he has many fond memories of the house, he will not miss it.
One reason for this is likely to be his trial for manslaughter, which is due to take place in May following the death of workman David Clark, 55, from injuries sustained during a fall at the house’s stable block in 2014.
Both Mr Holland and his foreman and co-defendant Grant Oakes, of Portland Road, Hove, deny the charge.
In the meantime, the property developer, who also owns Hove Engineerium and until last year owned the Brighton Astoria, is pursuing other business opportunities, including becoming a member of the board of Brighton radio station Juice FM.
Mr Holland said: “I always said I would retire from this type of investment when I was 70. Well I am 69 so I guess now is the time. The property is let to Proud Publishing on a 21 year lease anyway so for me now it is simply an investment. We had a lot of enjoyment and derived great satisfaction from restoring it and of course receiving two English Heritage awards.
“In the subsequent six years we ran the house as a wedding and function venue we had some experiences that will certainly stay with me for the rest of my life. Prince Phillip dropped in several times with Lord Gage of Firle when the horse driving trials were on. The Earl of Chichester visited on a couple of occasions.
“We held a glittering red carpet banquet for Prince Paul of Rumania which was quite something. However one of my best memories is of my son Chistopher’s 18 birthday party. Chris has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. He held the floor singing and playing his mouth organ for most of the night. A truly memorable evening.
“Stanmer is not somewhere I miss. We had our time there and now someone else is there. We have the satisfaction of knowing that’s because of us as the other plan for it was to create mansion flats. We felt the building deserved better. That’s what it got.”