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The land and the original Impney Manor House was purchased in 1868 by local entrepreneur John Corbett, whose vision was to demolish the original building and create a spectacular new residence for his beloved wife, Anna, and their growing family. Both John and Anna had been charmed by Versailles and the chateaux of the Loire Valley, and appointed French architect Auguste Tronquois to oversee the work of renowned English architect Richard Phené Spiers, with a brief to design a grand chateau in the style of Louis XIII. Work began in 1873, with 3,000 men working tirelessly on the construction of the magnificent building and its 155 acres of parkland, lakes, waterfalls and tropical gardens. John’s labour of love was finally completed in 1875, and the Chateau – or Impney Hall as it was then known – established its position as an iconic feature of the Worcestershire landscape.
Sadly, John and Anna separated in 1884, and it was at this time that John opened Impney Hall’s beautiful grounds to the public, sharing his peaceful haven with visitors from far and wide until his death in 1901. John’s brother Thomas inherited the estate, but when he passed away in 1906 the Chateau was let to a variety of people, before laying empty for some years after the First World War and eventually being sold in 1925 to James Ward, one of the original builders of the house. Ward restored and modernised the house and opened it to residents in 1928 as Impney House Hotel, turning John Corbett’s beloved Chateau into a tranquil country house retreat. This tradition is still upheld to this day, although another World War and several changes of ownership made their mark in the years that followed.
The Chateau was built when the British Empire was at its height, and the motor car was becoming the fashionable accessory of the nouveau riche. Fittingly, Chateau Impney has developed a rich motoring heritage over the years, a tradition that began when the Hagley and District Light Car Club organised their first sprint in the grounds of the hotel on 29 September 1957. The event was a roaring success, with Autocar magazine hailing the Chateau as “easily the most picturesque of this country’s sprint and hill-climb venues”, and declaring that “with a little skill and ingenuity applied to the road itself it will quickly rival the best of them”. The sprints continued for the next ten years, before finishing in 1967.
In 2015, this historic motoring event was proudly revived as the Chateau Impney Hill Climb, which saw over 200 competitors tackle a longer, more demanding course across two days. The Chateau’s first-rate facilities, which include 106 en-suite bedrooms, nine self-catering apartments, a stylish restaurant and bar and extensive exhibition facilities, housed not just a competitive motorsport event, but a classic car auction, a Concours d’Elegance, and a trade exhibition with over 60 businesses.
The inaugural Hill Climb was a great success, and thanks to feedback from spectators and competitors alike, the event will return on an annual basis. With 140 acres of picturesque grounds and breathtaking original architecture, Chateau Impney will make a dramatic and unique venue for historic motorsport for years to come.
For more information about Chateau Impney Hotel and Exhibition Centre, visit chateau-impney.com.