ONE of the grandest hotels in the Selby area has changed hands for more than £3 million - and now there are multi-million pound plans for a major revamp and a doubling of staff numbers.

The 17th century Monk Fryston Hall Hotel and its 30 acres of lakes, woodland and sculptured gardens, has been sold by Lord Edward Manners, chairman of Rutland Hotels, to Melvyn Hogarth, a 60-year-old builder.

Mr Hogarth, of housebuilders Hogarth Construction in Hull, already owns Cave Castle in South Cave, near Market Weighton, and the 18-bedroom Old Lodge Hotel in Malton.

He said he now intends to completely refurbish the ancient manor house of Monk Fryston Hall and to submit plans to Selby District Council for a leisure centre there - a total investment of £2.5 million.

Mr Hogarth said: "Once that is complete we will use the space, such as an old coach house and farm house, to increase the bedrooms from 31 to 50 at a cost of another £3 million and will double the number of employees at the hotel from 60 to 120 over the next five years."

Last year, Lord Manners celebrated 50 years since the hotel became part of his Rutland Group. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the hotel was a popular retreat for show business and pop stars, who would stay there while appearing at Leeds Grand Theatre or venues such as the Owl at Hambleton.

Among those who have slept there are Diana Dors, US singer Johnnie Ray, Juliet Mills, daughter of the late Sir John Mills, and acting legend Margaret Rutherford.

Celebrities say they enjoy the serenity of the grounds, which was land originally bequeathed as a deer park to 11th century monks.

The hotel was also used as a secret meeting place between Margaret Thatcher's Government and the National Union of Miners during the miners' strike in the 1980s.

Mr Hogarth, who transformed Cave Castle from a small 28-bedroom establishment into a 70-bedroom hotel with leisure facilities and golf course, said that he was determined to continue to employ all the staff at the hotel.

He said: "Some of them have been there for a long time and I am very lucky to have the benefit of their experience, including that of the manager Pam Smith."

Updated: 10:52 Friday, November 25, 2005