The company agreed a 35-year lease for Batchwood Hall with owners St Albans City & District Council.
The location, 20 miles northwest of capital city London, is surrounded by woodland and a golf course, and has lain empty since the pandemic.
Batchwood Hall was built in 1874 as a manor house for barrister, architect and horologist Edmund Beckett, the first Baron Grimthorpe, who co-designed the Big Ben clock. The building and surrounding estate was acquired by the council in 1935.
Oakman’s CEO, Peter Borg-Neal, said work to restore the hall is scheduled to begin next year after the necessary planning permissions have been granted, with the venue likely to open for business in 2025.
He detailed: “We are delighted to have been selected by the council to revive this important historic building. We are committed to making a multi-million-pound investment into the hall’s redevelopment to create a beautiful space with a restaurant, bar and function room for the people of St Albans to come together to enjoy our hospitality in an outstanding setting.
“We also plan to establish the hall as a premier local venue for weddings and other events and a top destination with luxury hotel rooms for those visiting and staying in the city.”
Suzanne Jones, the council’s strategic director for customer, business and corporate support, said: “We are very excited that this magnificent building is being brought back into use to become a St Albans landmark once again.
“The plans to create luxury hotel rooms alongside a high-quality restaurant and bar will help establish the hall as a top destination and attract people looking for a staycation. We have worked hard to find an outstanding partner in Oakman who shares our vision for this project.”
Oakman was chosen as Batchwood Hall’s preferred operator after an intensive and open selection process last year during which the council officers visited one of Oakman’s premises, The Woburn, a pub, restaurant and 48-room hotel in Woburn, Bedfordshire. The venue, leased from The Bedford Estates, was put forward as an example of the company’s work.
As owners of The Beech House bar and restaurant which opened in St Albans in 2014 the Oakman Group already has a presence in the city. The group is also redeveloping Bush Hall Hotel on the outskirts of nearby Welwyn Garden City, bringing it back into use as a hotel, restaurant and function venue. The proposed refurbishment reduces the overall hotel room provision from 25 to 14, larger, boutique rooms and suites, alongside three staff bedrooms and five riverside accessible suites in the remodelled stable block, each with their own private riverside terrace.