Castle Manor House rental rates approved

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, November 12, 2019

By Frederic Lee

Staff writer

The Windsor Castle Park manor house is opening its doors as an event venue in January, and rental rates have been approved by the Smithfield Town Council.

For a full weekend rental of the manor house and its exterior grounds Friday through Monday, rates for Isle of Wight residents will be $3,200, and for non-county residents, $4,000, according to a presentation by Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Amy Novak Oct. 29 at a Town Council committee meeting. 

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According to Novak, the term “exterior grounds” in the fee schedule encompasses the historic easement of the manor house property, roughly 40 acres of the 208-acre park. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Rates for a two-day weekday rental of the house and grounds, soon available Monday through Thursday, will be $1,600 for county residents and $2,000 for non-county residents, and rates for one-day weekday rentals for the house and grounds will be $1,000 for county residents and $1,200 for non-county residents.

For use of the manor house without the grounds, rates go to $1,200 for county residents and $1,500 for non-residents for the one-day rentals on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Novak said that the manor house can hold about 60 people comfortably. 

These one-day weekend rentals are only options during the months of November, December, January, February and March. 

One-day weekday rentals of the house — soon available Monday through Thursday — will be listed as options year-round and will cost $500 for county residents and $800 for non-county residents. 

Renting the grounds without the house will cost $400 for county residents and $600 for non-county residents for one day, and is only listed as available on weekdays, Monday through Thursday, in the rate schedule.

The manor house fee schedule doesn’t include weekend one- or two-day rentals for the manor house and grounds package, nor are those listed for the grounds if rented separately.   

According to Novak, maximizing potential town profits is the reason for that, but the option not being listed doesn’t mean that those days cannot be rented. 

“We want to allow for as many entire weekend rentals as we can book, which is the highest rate in the fee structure,” she wrote in an email dated Nov. 1, adding, “If we are close in date to a weekend that has not booked, say 3 months out, then we will consider offering a one day rental.”

Set up as an event space, the manor house — in the final weeks of a multimillion-dollar restoration  — is not designed for overnight stays, according to Novak, and because of the town’s noise ordinance, she said that parties at the house and grounds will be asked to end at 10 p.m. 

Novak said that finding a rental space that was similar to the manor house to compare rates was a challenge, since other historic plantation houses were more isolated geographically.  

Town Council member Randy Pack said that the rates were “probably a deal” when they were proposed Oct. 29.  

Similarly, the circa-1770 Walnut Valley house located at Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry underwent a two-year renovation and was completed earlier this year, according to staff. 

Sleeping eight with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, the house is now available for weekly and nightly rentals, going for $288 a night from November through March for Virginia residents and $319 from April through October. For non-Virginia residents, the night prices are $331 and $367, respectively.   

That house is considerably smaller than the manor house at Windsor Castle Park — which was also expanded during its restoration process and located closer to retail areas compared to the Walnut Valley house. 

The Barns at Timberneck — a restored, former farm property in Surry with three large barns and about four acres for rent  — is available for various lengths of time, but mainly for Thursday through Sunday wedding rentals starting at $4,500. 

Novak said that the manor house will also have a public grand dedication ceremony in May 2020 to mark the 10th anniversary of Windsor Castle Park. 

“It would be nice if it was a dressy affair,” Town Council member Valerie Butler suggested.  {/mprestriction}