News, Culture & Society

Charlotte Church unveils her vision to turn £1.5m mansion in Wales into wellness retreat

Charlotte Church’s detailed plans for a wellness retreat have been revealed in new planning documents, after the singer purchased the former £1.5million mansion of fashion magnate Laura Ashley in March this year. 

Proposals for Rhydoldog House in Wales talked of how guests will undergo a cleansing ritual, with their feet bathed in spring water, before having a ‘ceremonial entrance’ as they enter the property situated in Elan Valley. 

Documents submitted to Powys’ planning department last month reveal the scale of Charlotte’s vision for the first time and explain how four key aims, including how ‘reconnect with nature’ and ‘encourage social connection’, have shaped the plans. 

At one with nature: Charlotte Church’s detailed plans for a wellness retreat have been revealed in new planning documents, after the singer purchased the former £1.5million mansion of fashion magnate Laura Ashley in March this year

Multi-millionaire Charlotte, 33, alongside Black Cat Architects and Arbor Architects, have planned for a wild moon garden of white plants, with guests handing over their shoes at the entranceway- based on  Japanese design called a ‘Shikii Threshold’.  

The planning documents state: ‘A member of staff washes your feet. When you are ready you step over the Shikii threshold to be greeted in the welcome hall and welcomes to the course.’ 

Guests will arrive via a sweeping, tree-lined driveway to the landscaped, biodiversity moon garden at the front of the seven-bed property, replacing the existing car park which will be moved to the rear.

Wellness retreat: Proposals for Rhydoldog House in Wales talked of how guests will undergo a cleansing ritual, with their feet bathed in spring water, before having a 'ceremonial entrance' as they enter the property situated in Elan Valley

Wellness retreat: Proposals for Rhydoldog House in Wales talked of how guests will undergo a cleansing ritual, with their feet bathed in spring water, before having a ‘ceremonial entrance’ as they enter the property situated in Elan Valley

Vision: Documents submitted to Powys' planning department last month reveal the scale of Charlotte's vision for the first time and explain how four key aims have shaped the plans

Vision: Documents submitted to Powys’ planning department last month reveal the scale of Charlotte’s vision for the first time and explain how four key aims have shaped the plans

Wow: The property - set in almost 50 acres of grounds - was the former home of fashion magnate Laura Ashley and boasts its own helicopter pad plus a hidden rooftop hot tub.

Wow: The property – set in almost 50 acres of grounds – was the former home of fashion magnate Laura Ashley and boasts its own helicopter pad plus a hidden rooftop hot tub.

‘By reinstating the area in front of the house as a landscaped garden, the main entrance to the house will become much more legible and connected with the landscaping,’ the proposal says.

‘This will create a ceremonial arrival, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the wild nature of the site, unimpeded by cars and back of house facilities.’

From there, they will pass over the Shikii Threshold following the foot-bathing ritual. For the remainder of their stay, guests will be expected to use a ‘boot room’ entrance. 

Green: The application also includes plans for a pond, a car port and solar panelling

Green: The application also includes plans for a pond, a car port and solar panelling

Interesting: 'Both ceremonial and boot room entrances have significance within the building,' the plans state

Interesting: ‘Both ceremonial and boot room entrances have significance within the building,’ the plans state

‘Both ceremonial and boot room entrances have significance within the building,’ the plans state.

‘The ceremonial entrance being the very first activity of the retreat stay and the boot room being the boundary between internal and external activities.’ 

The property – set in almost 50 acres of grounds – was the former home of fashion magnate Laura Ashley and boasts its own helicopter pad plus a hidden rooftop hot tub.

Reconnecting: Charlotte believes the picturesque backdrop will allow people to 'reconnect with nature'

Reconnecting: Charlotte believes the picturesque backdrop will allow people to ‘reconnect with nature’

End goal: Charlotte, alongside Black Cat Architects and Arbor Architects, have planned for a wild moon garden of white plants, with guests handing over their shoes at the entranceway- based on Japanese design called a 'Shikii Threshold'

End goal: Charlotte, alongside Black Cat Architects and Arbor Architects, have planned for a wild moon garden of white plants, with guests handing over their shoes at the entranceway- based on Japanese design called a ‘Shikii Threshold’

Surrounded by steeply-sloping ancient woodland, dramatic rocky outcrops and waterfalls, it offers stunning views to distant mountains from an elevated spot above the town of Rhayader.

Charlotte believes the picturesque backdrop will allow people to ‘reconnect with nature’, with the proposals stating the retreat will aim to: ‘Create spaces that encourage people to reconnect with nature; Encourage social gathering and connection; Promote the importance of ritual, ceremony and rights of passage. 

‘Consider site resilience and explore options for improving the energy performance of the site.’ 

Beautiful: Surrounded by steeply-sloping ancient woodland, dramatic rocky outcrops and waterfalls, it offers stunning views to distant mountains from an elevated spot above the town of Rhayader

Beautiful: Surrounded by steeply-sloping ancient woodland, dramatic rocky outcrops and waterfalls, it offers stunning views to distant mountains from an elevated spot above the town of Rhayader

Renovation: A separate application reveals Charlotte's plans for four log cabins and a bath house in woodlands, using the trunks and root systems of living and felled trees as natural foundations and supports

Renovation: A separate application reveals Charlotte’s plans for four log cabins and a bath house in woodlands, using the trunks and root systems of living and felled trees as natural foundations and supports

Pictured: Inside the barn Charlotte is planning to convert

Pictured: Inside the barn Charlotte is planning to convert 

Earlier this year, Charlotte unveiled her dream to create a wellness retreat with spaces for mixed martial arts, spiritual healing, yoga and outdoor pursuits. 

The application also includes plans for a pond, a car port and solar panelling.

A separate application reveals Charlotte’s plans for four log cabins and a bath house in woodlands, using the trunks and root systems of living and felled trees as natural foundations and supports.

A delegation from Rhayader Town Council has visited the site along with 12 members of the public and the application is currently under consideration by Powys County Council. 

Plan of action: Designs for one of four log cabins Charlotte is planning to build in woodlands around her home in mid Wales

Plan of action: Designs for one of four log cabins Charlotte is planning to build in woodlands around her home in mid Wales

Dream: Earlier this year, Charlotte unveiled her dream to create a wellness retreat with spaces for mixed martial arts, spiritual healing, yoga and outdoor pursuits

Dream: Earlier this year, Charlotte unveiled her dream to create a wellness retreat with spaces for mixed martial arts, spiritual healing, yoga and outdoor pursuits

How did Laura and Sir Bernard spend their years at Rhydoldog House?

Laura Ashley in a 1976 documentary about her clothing brand

Laura Ashley in a 1976 documentary about her clothing brand

The pair originally bought the home in 1961 to be near to their fledgling business in the town of Carno. Laura Ashley had been born in Wales and had opened the company’s first shop in Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire.

Rhydoldog would accommodate high-level company board meetings as well as some of Wales’ most lavish parties.

At the height of the their success during Laura’s life, the house would also be used as the backdrop for the fashion brand’s iconic photo shoots of clothes ranges.

The surrounding grounds were even said to have inspired the designer’s famed floral prints that continue to this day.

As the years went on the pair spent less time at the property, affording to buy home in France and Belgium as well as a yacht. Sir Bernard, trained as a private pilot, would fly back from their home in France to keep up with the running of the company. 

Laura died due to injuries she sustained in a fall at her daughter’s home in the Cotswolds back in 1985.

After the 40th anniversary of Laura Ashley in 1993, Sir Bernard retired as chairperson and became an honorary life president. 

Not much is known about Sir Bernard’s life as a widower in the property, but he lived there for the next 24 years until his death in 2009.

The home went on the market soon after, although the couple’s daughter Jane said that she had spoke to the National Trust and even the National Museum of Wales about restoring the property in public hands but logistics could not be agreed.

Daughter Jane told the Western Mail: ‘I had several meetings with the National Trust and even the National Museum of Wales was trying to think of a way [not to sell the property]. It was just too problematic to keep it.’

The home was eventually sold for £1.2m in the autumn of 2009 to new owners who restored much of the frontage, but are not believed to have given the house the complete overhaul it needed.

Now it appears that the property has been snapped up by singer Charlotte Church, who will be able to spend a bit of her £8m fortune to complete the job.

The soprano had originally envisaged turning the home into a school, but one local said there had been ‘no mention’ of the idea, and may not attract many pupils given its isolate position. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk