Champneys is an estate established during the medieval period near Wigginton, Hertfordshire. Today the estate comprises a large house built in the French Second Empire style and associated buildings set in its own landscaped grounds of around 200 acres (0.81 km2).
History of the property: Champneys Tring
The earliest record of an estate associated with the Champneys name is in 1307. It appears in the Tring manor court rolls for 1514. It was owned by successive landowning families in the Wigginton and surrounding area between the 14th and 19th centuries, although for a short period around 1535 it is recorded as owned by Thomas Cranmer, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. The grounds and original house was inherited in 1871 by the Rev. Arthur Sutton Valpy. He replaced the original building by the current French Second Empire styled house built in 1874 which stood in extensive grounds. In 1900 Champneys was sold to Lady Rothschild.
Naturopathy and health resort
In 1925 Stanley Lief, (b.1890 — d.1962) a pioneer in the field of Naturopathy purchased the stately home of Champneys converting it into a Nature Cure resort which he ran from the 1930s for about 20 years. Champneys at Tring continued as a health resort with varying degrees of success, latterly under the ownership of a Middle Eastern consortium, until it was bought by the present owner, Stephen Purdew, in 2002.
History of the business: Champneys health spas
Dorothy Purdew set up a slimming club business and opened her first club on 25 June 1970 at Frimleys, Northampton. It was a success and led to over 70 clubs opening throughout the South East. In September 1981, Dorothy and her husband Robert purchased Henlow Grange for £350,000 from Leida Costigan and one of their sons Stephen joined the company. Costigan had opened Henlow Grange in 1961 as The Beauty Farm School of Beauty and Physical Culture, the first of its kind in the UK. Following the death of Robert Purdew, Stephen took over management of the group.
In 1990, Stephen Purdew purchased Springs Health Farm in Leicestershire, followed by another health farm at Forest Mere in 1995. The Hotel de la Paix, a ski hotel in Champéry, Switzerland, was purchased in 1996.
In 2002, Henlow Grange suffered a fire, but following nine months of renovations, the spa was re-opened, a grand ball being held to celebrate with Jimmy Savile as the principal guest.
Also in 2002, Stephen Purdew bought Champneys Tring, which with the Champneys name, led to the re-branding of all the resorts.
In 2004, Champneys launched a range of spa products called the Champneys Collection, and in 2006 Champneys opened a high street day spa in Chichester. Champneys Day Spas now operate in six locations: Chichester, Enfield, Guildford, Milton Keynes, St. Albans and Tunbridge Wells.
In 2006 Stephen Purdew celebrated his engagement to Isabelle at Champneys Tring, inviting over 200 guests, including Liam Gallagher, Piers Morgan and footballers David Seaman, Tony Adams, Gary McAllister and Ian Wright.
In 2008, Dorothy Purdew received an O.B.E in the Queens Birthday Honours List, for services to the Health Spa Industry and charity. In 2004, £150,000 was raised for Breast Cancer Care, Tommy’s Children Charity and the Disability Foundation were supported in 2006, raising a combined sum of £100,000. During 2008–2009, Champneys successfully applied for and was granted charitable status.
In July 2011, Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, resigned over a stay at Champneys Tring, part of which had been a gift from Stephen Purdew, and in an interview in The Guardian in August the same year, Purdew explained that certain clients receive discounts on the basis of their celebrity status or if they are journalists or hold high-ranking positions in public office: "These rugby players are paying but they're coming on a concession rate because it's just making the place buzz. We do that with actors and journalists and dignitaries. It makes Champneys 'The Place'."
In 2012, Champneys Tring teamed up with controversial doctor Professor Mohamed Taranissi to offer IVF treatments at the spa.
Champneys International College of Health & Beauty
Champneys International College of Health & Beauty, in the grounds of the Tring resort in Hertfordshire, was founded in 1976 and offers both full-time and part-time courses.
The chain has four resorts in the United Kingdom:
- Champneys Henlow, Henlow, Bedfordshire
- Champneys Forest Mere, Liphook, Hampshire
- Champneys Springs, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire
- Champneys Tring, Wigginton, Hertfordshire
- Rothschild-shire: the wider fate of UK country houses mirrored in a family (1/3), accessed 18 January 2015
- British History on Line -Wigginton, Hertfordshire, Accessed 18 January 2015
- Hertfordshire Genealogy Champneys, Accessed 18 January 2015
- see Naturopathy in the UK on the website of The General Council and Register of Naturopaths, http://www.naturopathy.org.uk/history.asp
- "Stephen Purdew". Start-ups. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
- "Henlow History". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Purdew, Dorothy (2011). The Long Road to Champneys: The Extraordinary Life of a Pioneering Spa Queen. Infinite Ideas Ltd. p. 145. ISBN 190682150X. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Champneys Day Spas locations, accessed 3 February 2015
- Purdew, Dorothy (2011). The Long Road to Champneys. Infinite Ideas Ltd. p. 226. ISBN 190682150X.
- Purdew, Dorothy. "Santi Conference Speaker Biography: 1 June 2009". www.santi-santi.com. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- Champneys: the spa that helped secure Sir Paul Stephenson's fate Publisher The Guardian 18 July 2011, Accessed 18 January 2015
- The networker who made Champneys' name The Guardian Published 11 August 2012, Accessed 18 January 2015
- Controversial IVF doctor offers fertility scans at luxury spa Daily May published: 28 July 2012, Accessed 18 January 2015
- "Champneys, Forest Mere, Hampshire". Telegraph. 21 December 2009. Retrieved 21 December 2009.