The future of an historic country house hangs in the balance after it announced it would close its doors to the public.

Cherkley Court in Leatherhead, will not open to the public next year despite spending millions on a seven-year renovation project.

Members of the public will no longer be able to pay a £6 admission charge to look around the 16 acres of gardens with its grand terraces and Italianate gardens overlooking the Mole Valley.

Current bookings for weddings and other events will be honoured in 2010 but the former home of press baron Lord Beaverbrook will not be taking any more bookings.

Ward councillor David Sharland said: “I can only wonder how they will be able to keep things going there. It is sad news – it will be a loss for the area.”

The Beaverbrook Foundation, a charitable organisation which runs the home, has decided it can no longer allow its funds to be used to support the unprofitable Cherkley Court.

The foundation, which bought three lifeboats for the RNLI, supports 400 charities in the UK and pays for welfare projects for the elderly and disabled, blamed the economic climate and two wet summers for its decision.

More than 16,000 visited the gardens from April to September in 2008 but even the Orangery cafe and a gift shop built last year to bring in more revenue has not been enough to save Cherkley Court from closure.

Foundation trustees recently had the house and estate valued by Savills.

Joanne Rogers, a spokesman for Cherkley Court and gardens, said: “All bookings for next year will be honoured. The future of the house is a decision for the trustees and I couldn’t comment.

“It was always the plan that the gardens would be run on a self-financing basis and having given it three years it is not proving feasible and they don’t want to drain resources from other parts of the foundation.”

The home where the newspaper magnate and politician entertained Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling, underwent a multi-million refurbishment of the building and grounds.

The renovations and redecorations reflect the character of a Victorian country house and the possessions and taste of Lord Beaverbrook.

Cherkley Court was originally built in the 1860s, but was rebuilt in the late Victorian era after being destroyed by fire.

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