Rydal Hall Christian retreat and conference centre reopens
“We are delighted to open our doors again and to be able to welcome guests once more!”
That is the message from Amanda Fogg, general manager of the Diocese of Carlisle’s Rydal Hall Christian retreat and conference centre, which has reopened following the COVID-19 lockdown.
The hall, which has been providing Christian hospitality to people of all faiths or none since 1963, is situated in more than 30 acres of beautiful grounds near Ambleside.
This week it opened its doors again to its first smaller group of guests: 15 people who had all been shielding prior to their trip to the Lakes. A further group of 30 people is planned for the end of the month.
Amanda said: “The coronavirus pandemic has represented a huge challenge for us here at the hall. We had built up really healthy bookings for the year ahead but we are thankful that so many of the guests who were due to be with us have moved their bookings on to 2021.
“It was a wonderful feeling to be able to welcome guests back in. Understandably there will be some people who are nervous but we give each guest a set of protocols which are there to help guide and reassure them.
“Rydal Hall is already a very special place where people can come to find rest, space and relaxation. My prayer would be that people feel it is even more special after the difficult times we have been through.”
The hall, and its associated tea shop and camping site, were closed with immediate effect on 23 March.The majority of its 30 staff were furloughed, apart from Amanda and a member of the estates team.
Ten members of Rydal’s resident community - young people from across Europe who come to live and work at the hall to experience communal living in a Christian environment – continued to live there during lockdown. Three have since returned home.
As restrictions were eased the tea shop initially reopened for four days a week from 15 June, providing a takeaway service for walkers. It is now open seven days a week.
The hall’s campsite reopened from 4 July, with capacity to accommodate up to 60 people who may bring their own tents or book a camping pod. The self-catering Stable Cottage has also reopened, along with a Bunk House.
In line with guidelines for the hospitality industry, the hall has adopted a range of coronavirus protocols across the site. In the hall itself there are social distance floor markings in the reception area, hand sanitisers and guests are asked to pre-order meals. Staff wear all necessary face coverings or visors when serving food.
And as part of the reopening process the team at Rydal is also looking to offer discounted breaks - between set dates in August and September - for clergy and their family who may not have had a holiday during lockdown.
The Ven Richard Pratt, chair of the Rydal Hall board, said: “I want to send a huge thank you to Amanda and all the team at the hall for all the hard work that has gone into the reopening of the facilities and for dealing with so much during the lockdown itself.
“I’m delighted that Rydal Hall is open again, it represents another step forward for the tourist industry’s recovery here in Cumbria.
“I’d encourage people to really consider a stay at the hall or on its campsite and indeed if you are out for the day or on a walk nearby, then pop in for a brew at the tea shop. There’s something wonderfully restful about Rydal Hall.”
Anyone interested in booking a stay at Rydal Hall or the campsite should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at email@example.com.