Grade I-listed mansion Danson House in Welling set to return to council control and become borough's register office
PUBLISHED: 09:15 10 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:15 10 November 2015
MUST CREDIT Bexley Heritage Trust
Move follows decision to reduce grant to the Bexley Heritage Trust
The historic Grade I-listed Danson House in Welling is set to return to the control of Bexley council next year - and become the borough’s new register office.
In a move designed to ensure the Georgian building remains open to the public, the council’s cabinet will discuss its future when it meets next week.
It follows lengthy discussions over many months between the council and the Bexley Heritage Trust, which has managed the mansion on the council’s behalf since 2004.
As a result of the severe financial pressures it faces, the council decided to withdraw its grant to the trust over the next three years.
This led the trust to review its commitments, resulting in their decision to withdraw from the management of Danson House.
The council is in discussion with Kent County Council to continue the use of the building for weddings by using it as the new location for the borough’s register office.
The service is run for Bexley by KCC. It is proposed this will relocate to Danson House from the borough’s current register office at Sidcup Manor House.
The future use of Sidcup Manor House will be reviewed and a new conservation management plan developed, which will help inform final proposals for the property.
Cabinet member Peter Craske at Bexley council said: “We are saddened BHT is unable to continue to manage Danson House but understand the reason for their decision.
“Reducing the trust’s grant is a decision forced on us by the need to balance our budget and save at least another £34 million over the next three years. We will ensure the building continues to be put to good use and remains open to the public and we hope that the volunteers who help show visitors around the house will continue to provide this important service.
“I would like to place on record our thanks to the trust for the part they played in fitting out the house and developing a new role for it following its renovation by English Heritage. We will continue to work closely with them in connection with Hall Place House & Gardens, which they also manage for us. I would also like to provide an assurance the council will continue to support the trust’s work at Hall Place.
“We know that Sidcup Manor House is a much loved local landmark and we are keen to see its future secured. We want to find a use for the house that preserves its historic character and which ensures that it makes a positive contribution to the town’s economy.
“I am sure most people are only too aware of the scale of the financial challenges we face. We are working hard to focus our resources on essential services and those priority areas that will have the maximum benefit to our residents.”
The council, Bexley Heritage Trust and KCC are working closely together to agree new arrangements that would minimise the impact of the change in management on those who have booked weddings at Danson House and Sidcup Manor House after September 2016, when it is proposed that ceremonies will move from the Manor House to Danson House. The couples potentially affected have been contacted, informed of the proposals and given a range of options regarding their ceremonies.
The council also plans to offer some Register Office services by appointment at Bexleyheath Central Library.
Danson House is a Palladian villa designed by Sir Robert Taylor, the architect of the Bank of England, and was built around 1766. It stands in more than 200 acres of its former grounds which form part of Danson Park, the largest public park in the London Borough of Bexley.