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Now you, too, can be to the manor born; Live a country house life in Wirral for pounds 125,000.

Byline: Mike Hornby

A PROPERTY magnate has announced plans for one of the region's most prestigious housing developments, set in the grounds of the late Lord Leverhulme's Thornton Manor Estate.

Lee Magner, the new owner of the estate, is to convert former farm buildings into 17 one-and-two bedroomed studio apartments. The apartments will range in price from pounds 100,000 to pounds 125,000 and form part of a redevelopment of the Grade-II Victorian property, which will see it transformed into a luxury hotel and private members club. Mr Magner bought Thornton Manor, one of the great houses in the North West of England, together with cottages, stabling, gardens and 125 acres of grounds and parkland, more than two years ago. He paid in the region of pounds 3.5m and also spent many thousands of pounds at an auction of Lord Leverhulme's collection last summer to keep many of the finest works at the manor. Mr Magner said: ``It is a very exciting time for all of us involved in the project. My vision of the hotel and private members club is that it will be traditional - with a twist. But the design is a slow and careful process, there is a still a long way to go.'' Thornton Manor was built in the 1840s and the first viscount, William Hesketh Lever, lived there from 1888 to be near his Port Sunlight soap factory. The property was put on the market after the third and last Lord Leverhulme died in July 2000, at the age of 85. Beyond its magnificent gardens lies the model village of Thornton Hough which is similar in style to Port Sunlight. The Leverhulme family has retained the remainder of the Thornton Manor Estate including agricultural property as well as the majority of the village of Thornton Hough.

Mr Magner, who trained as a barrister before he became a property developer, says it will be a hotel unlike anything ever seen in the North West. He added: ``The development will see the manor transformed into one of the most sought after private members clubs in the UK, providing a ``hip'' hotel, a spa, health club and a range of new eateries. ``The first phase beg an this week and comprises the stable block and a number of the outbuildings on the estate into 17 residential apartments which are being offered for sale on long leases, with the benefit of a buy to let investment package and founder membership of the club. ``Work is due to be completed in summer 2004, but the marketing suite and show apartment will be opened in Spring of this year, where potential members and investors will be able to register their interest. ``To help retain the features of the manor, we acquired a number of furnishings and paintings at the Leverhulme auction to create the feel of a country members' club. ``As soon as I saw the manor I fell in love with the place, it's a remarkable piece of heritage. The atmosphere is not something you can put into a brochure, it's very special.'' Around 100 jobs will be created by the hotel and members club. Other proposed alterations to the site include conversion of the manor itself, with an extension of the swimming pool area to provide a spa and leisure club facility, and conversion of the stable block to hotel accommodation.

There will also be a central glazed block to the stable courtyard and 137 car parking spaces across the site.

A further 87 car parking spaces will also be created within the grounds of the disused wall garden.


BUILT TO LAST: Janet and Lee Magner outside Thornton Manor, the former home of Lord Leverhulme, which they intend to convert; Q ESTATE: Lord Leverhulme
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 15, 2003
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