THE historic gatehouse at Grant Park has been given a new lease of life.
East Lodge on Victoria Road was sold to Ian-Paul Ashworth and Bea Jefferson earlier this year. Originally from Sheffield, the couple moved to Caroline Street last autumn and have reopened the B-listed building as holiday accommodation for visitors to the area.
Ian is a self-employed, independent consultant specialising in support for voluntary sector organisations. Bea is a researcher specialising in evaluation of economic development initiatives.
“We were looking to move to somewhere a bit quieter,” said Ian. “At the same time, we thought it would be a good idea to set up a business to bring in a small amount of income so that we could start to do less of our self-employed work and have more time to enjoy our new surroundings.”
Keen hiker Bea had walked in Moray before and was impressed with what she saw. The pair fell in love with Forres on their first visit last summer.
“It was the height of summer and the weather was lovely!,” said Bea. “We were struck by how friendly local people were and the beauty of the woodland walks and Moray coast.
“We came across East Lodge when we were house-hunting for somewhere to live; we had one eye on potential properties to rent out in any case, but East Lodge immediately stood out.
“It’s in a beautiful location but is also very close to Forres’ amenities.”
East Lodge was sold in 1997 by Moray Council to a private owner who lived there until this year.
“The house was in good order so little maintenance work was required,” said Ian. “However, as you can imagine, we completely furnished it to a standard high enough to rent out.
“We were able to source most of what we needed locally to support local businesses and are about to start work on improving the garden area to provide a place for our guests to sit outside.”
The partners are now renting East Lodge out as a self-catering facility all year round, advertising on national websites.
“The Lodge is a perfect place for a holiday,” said Bea. “It’s a unique building in a glorious setting.
“It’s important for the economy of Forres to attract visitors, and at the moment we have a shortage of accommodation.
“East Lodge adds a very special location to the great range of places in which people can stay locally.”
Bea and Ian have been pleased with the level of interest shown so far, adding that one guest already commented on the friendliness of the town.
“We are marketing East Lodge at dog owners, walkers and cyclists who come to enjoy our wonderful town and the surrounding countryside,” said Ian.
“We are both vegan and have found that Forres caters very well for us in its cafés and restaurants, so are keen to encourage fellow vegetarians and vegans to visit.
“We feel privileged to be the owners of such a well-known building and look forward to welcoming visitors from far and wide.
“They can look forward to enjoying the vibrant events which take place in the park and the beautiful floral displays maintained by Forres in Bloom.”