With a heavy heart East Dene in Bonchurch will cease trading at the end of this week, the owners have announced.
Located within the almost 200-year-old property, which many Islanders would have stayed at for school trips or retreats, the residential education centre has been too badly hit by the Covid pandemic to continue, say the owners.
Many stories to tell
Built in 1824 and nestled in ten acres of woodland in beautiful Bonchurch, East Dene was once home to Victorian poet and raconteur, Algernon Swinburne.
It’s been a convent, a country hotel and over almost the last century has offered the perfect location for residential trips for schools and youth groups, as well as weddings.
Closing with a heavy heart
With the uncertainty of when schools would be reopened and lockdown lifted, the owners say it’s with huge sadness and regret they’ve had to make the decision to cease trading.
Dee Wright told News OnTheWight
“East Dene, the Allnatt Residential Outdoor Education Centre in Bonchurch, will cease trading on 29th January 2021. This is confirmed with huge sadness and regret and is a direct result of the Covid pandemic.
“The Centre has not had any school visits since March 2020 and despite all the government’s financial support through the JSS and small grants, there is still no sign that the Government’s ban on residential school visits will be lifted.
“The current surge in the infection rate and another lockdown period has made it impossible to continue for an organisation which prides itself on providing a safe experience for children.”
“A devastating time”
Dee said she was especially sad for their staff, who have all worked so loyally over the years.
“It is particularly upsetting that all staff have been made redundant, most of whom have served East Dene loyally for many years.
“This is a devastating time for a well established and highly respected business which was just three years short of its Centenary.”
Weddings and events affected
This time of year would have seen the annual Souperia event, held by Bonchurch Community Association, where you could enjoy a variety of home made soups and cakes in this fundraiser for the village. Alas due to lockdown, this kind of activity came to a halt last year.
“In addition it will impact on future weddings, special occasions and charitable events and all customers are being contacted personally to discuss their individual situations.”
Our thoughts are with all those affected by the closure – we have had many enjoyable times at East Dene over the last 15 years.