THIS year marks the 30th anniversary of luxury spa resort Champneys at Henlow Grange.
The historic grange, which has a 50 year history as a health farm, has been a centre of peace for centuries. Cistercian Monks once occupied The Grange, building the spectacular weir on the River Hiz that flows close to the house today.
But in 1981 it was bought by the Purdew family Dorothy and Robert Purdew who spent the following years restoring and enlarging it – the first steps to making it the cornerstone of the Champneys brand.
And while son Stephen had no intention of working with his parents when he stepped in to assist for a couple of weeks at the young age of 21, he nowmanages the entire Champneys group.
In 1985 Sir Jimmy Savile OBE opened the new Savile wing extension, which added an extra 20 bedrooms and additional treatment rooms and in 1991 the newly restored Cupola Clock Tower was unveiled by Sir Nicholas Lyell MP. The tower was dedicated to Robert Purdew who died earlier that year.
In December 1990 the Purdews purchased Springs Hydro in Leciestershire – the first purpose built health farm in the UK. Both companies went from strength to strength enabling the Purdews to embark on a £4million extension at Henlow, which included a half Olympic size swimming pool, whirlpool, advanced computerized gymnasium and restaurant coffee bar. The Grange can now house around 255 clients a day and employs around 350 staff.
More recently as a result of an unfortunate fire Henlow completed a major refurbishment and new facilities included a Laconium (dry Roman heat room,) additional treatment rooms, a mud treatment room and a Thalassotherapy pool.
Henlow is a favourite resort for celebrities including Barbara Windsor, Emma Bunton, Jimmy Savile, Brenda Blethyn, David Hasslehof, Mark Foster and many more.