A former hotel that once housed one of England’s greatest poets could be “reborn” into a Buddhist retreat center.
The Alfoxton Park Hotel in Holford was the home of William Wordsworth – whose works include Daffodils and The Prelude – and his sister Dorothy in 1797.
The hotel was bought by a Buddhist charity for £ 1.4 million last year after being empty for several years.
The trust that looks after the building has now submitted plans for how the main house will be put back into operation as a retreat with on-site accommodation.
While there, Wordsworth composed lyrical ballads with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a collection that included the Watchet Harbor-inspired epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The house housed American troops during World War II, but fell into disrepair after the hotel closed in the mid-2000s and found its way onto the risk register of historic England.
The former West Somerset Council took enforcement action against a property developer in 2010 after it was discovered that the run-down complex was being used to house Polish workers, the BBC reported.
The Alfoxton Park Trust has submitted proposals to bring the main house back into operation.
The Alfoxton Park Hotel in Holford. CREDIT: The Alfoxton Park Trust
A spokesperson said: “Our vision is to make Alfoxton Park, a large and beautiful Grade II listed building and an important part of Britain’s literary heritage, a major new retreat for the Triratna Buddhist community.
“We believe this will be a successful, creative and appropriate use of this very special building. Alfoxton will join the other eight retreat centers that Triratna already operates across the UK, all of which are thriving. ”
The Triratna Buddhist Community is an ecumenical movement “dedicated to imparting Buddhist truths in ways appropriate to the modern world”.
Upon completion of the work, three types of activities would take place on site – artistic and creative retreats for the “literary wing” of the movement; long meditation retreats; and “elementary” outdoor retreats.
Visitors can use the facility on a “give what they can” basis rather than paying flat fees. The trust states that this “may result in an increase, not a decrease, in income, possibly counterintuitively”.
The main house will form the retreat center with space for events and accommodation, while the carriage house on the site will become a permanent residential community.
More barns on the site will be renovated in the coming years. The former tennis court becomes a parking lot.
A spokesman said: “The buildings have been vacant for over 15 years and the roof and asbestos are leaking throughout. They are all uninhabitable in their current state.
“The work will be carried out as a self-construction project by the future community members who have experience in construction projects. Therefore, the proposed phasing of the works seems to provide suitable living accommodation for them as soon as possible. ”
While the first phase of the work is being carried out, members of the community will live in a cabin and 12 caravans on the premises, with trust ensuring that their position is “as discreet as possible”.
The council is expected to take a final decision on the plans later this year.