THE Shrubbery Hotel – an Ilminster landmark – has been saved from closure after being brought out of administration this week.

The hotel, which has been run by Stuart and Liz Shepherd for more than 50 years, has been acquired by Kevin Newton, of The Shrubbery Hotel (2013) Ltd, who bought the freehold for £995,000.

Mr Shepherd, whose family bought the hotel in 1956, will continue as general manager and chef Henry Lester has also been retained to run the kitchen.

He said: “This is an exciting new beginning for the hotel after some worrying times. It started life as a private home and was converted into a hotel in 1932.

“The ballroom was added to provide a dance venue in the 1950s and in the late 1960s we used to hold the Shrubbery Spectacular here with up to 900 people partying to top pop music acts.

“Many of Ilminster’s social groups and businesses have held their regular meetings here over the years and with this new investment we are looking forward to welcoming people back now that the future of the hotel is secured.”

Administrators BDO were brought in at the 21-room, threestar hotel in February last year but the new owners, based in Wells, want to bring the 19th Century building up to date and improve it as a wedding venue, conference centre and hotel.

Mr Newton said: “The plan is to bring the hotel up to contemporary expectations, improving the public areas, meeting rooms and the bedrooms.

“The Shrubbery needs to meet the needs of the modern, discerning customer. It is an important venue for the town where people can meet, socialise, get married and celebrate the landmark events of their lives. A thorough review of the hotel facilities is under way and we will then be carrying out improvements over time while keeping the hotel open for the community.”

The Shrubbery will continue to be marketed through the Best Western brand and Graham Randall, of BDO, said: “We are delighted to have achieved a positive outcome for the business, staff and the local community with the successful sale of this long-running business.”