A COUNTRY house and popular wedding venue will close this weekend.

Alex Proud, the manager of Stanmer House near Brighton, told The Argus his company is going into liquidation and he has to close the venue because of a rent increase.

He said: “I’ve put millions of pounds into Stanmer House but we are having to liquidate the company.

“We have one last wedding on Saturday and then Stanmer House will close this weekend.”

Weddings which had been booked for this year will not take place at Stanmer House and some of the hospitality staff will lose their jobs.

Mr Proud said he is working with couples to help them find an alternative venue for their big day.

He said: “I don’t want to ruin anyone’s wedding, but sadly we have had no choice but to close.

“There is no question of us walking away from our responsibility.

“We have got a wedding planner in and we are negotiating with other venues for all the weddings we had booked.

“We will be returning all deposits for the weddings in the next two weeks.”

Mr Proud insisted no full time Stanmer House staff will lose their jobs and said they will instead be offered jobs at another venue he runs – Proud Cabaret Brighton, in St George’s Road, Kemp Town.

He said: “We are trying to save as many jobs as we can and have transferred them over to Proud Cabaret.

“No full time staff will be losing their jobs. Any staff who have lost their jobs will be staff who have not worked there for very long and do not rely on these jobs.

“They should easily find work elsewhere.”

The mother of one bar staff member at Stanmer House, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Argus her daughter had not been paid since the start of December.

She said: “I’ve had to sub my daughter’s rent, which is not insubstantial, as she hasn’t had a pay cheque since the start of December.

“They paid half the staff, but the other half were told they were going to be paid on Sunday and they haven’t been.

“I’m worried they won’t be able to claim any unpaid wages if the company is made insolvent, as they’re on zero-hour contracts and do not have a statement of work.”

When asked about staff who have not been paid their wages, Mr Proud said: “Unfortunately that has been part of the process of us leaving, but all staff will be paid in a few weeks’ time and everyone will get their money.”

According to Companies House, Cabaret Club Brighton Limited is also in liquidation, but Mr Proud said the Kemp Town venue will continue to operate under a different “mother company”.

Brighton-born entrepreneur Mr Proud has been running the 18th century manor house in Stanmer since 2016. When he took on the site, Mr Proud was hoping to raise the standard of the restaurant to rosette level and had a longer-term plan to create five star hotel rooms in the house’s top floors.

At the time, he described the house as a “flagship building” for the Proud Group.