Jun 14, 2023

Trip down memory lane – celebrating 50 years of Ragdale Hall

In preparation for celebrating our 50th anniversary on the 20th June 2023, we began searching our records, reading up on our history and found some truly wonderful displays of fashion, treatment trends and incredible memorabilia.

While the trends and fashions might have changed the heart of Ragdale Hall has stayed true – putting your wellness first.

We are delighted to share our findings as we take a look back on 50 years of wellness from past to present.

In 1973 the doors first opened as a ladies only Slimming Hydro under the ownership of Slimming Magazine, you could expect a whole host of exercise classes, classic treatments and of course the infamous 500-calorie a day menu.


Through the 80’s, now under corporate ownership, further refurbishments and developments took place including the grand opening of the original indoor pool (now the exercise pool) as the Hall worked hard to capture a more commercial market.

In June 1990, Ragdale was acquired by former Our Price Record founders Garry Nesbitt and Michael Issacs and the private family ownership has continued to this day.

A Garden Room and additional bedrooms opened in 1991, followed by a 2nd indoor pool with massage jets, and two new exercise studios by the end of the 1990’s. A Dining Room and kitchen extension soon followed as did the Verandah Bar and Lounge with a further two floors of luxury bedrooms above.

A continuous plan of investment saw the opening of the Thermal Spa in 2007, ongoing upgrades to facilities throughout the Hall, new relaxation and treatment spaces and the Rooftop Infinity Pool opening in December 2017. The most recent addition, the Twilight Cocktail Bar, opened in 2020 and you can be sure there will be further enhancements to come.

With long-lasting relationships and steadfast friendships, the owners have created an environment that, not only provides the best in modern treatments and relaxation but, a place of care and nurture. Many awards and accolades have been earnt over the years, but the greatest praise is always bestowed on the amazing Ragdale team whose professional approach and friendly demeanour has helped our guests to create ever-lasting memories.

More recently, the hustle and bustle of everyday life can sometimes become just too much to juggle, and we have learnt that your mental and physical well-being is a key priority. Remaining true to our original values, Ragdale remains at the forefront of putting your wellness first and continues to offer a sanctuary with the chance to push the pause button, even if just for a short while.


Dining Room

The Garden Room

Standard Room

Rooftop Infinity Pool

The Twilight Bar


We spoke to Wendy, who is one of our longest serving regular guests, as she recounts some of her earliest Ragdale memories.

“My sisters and I always look forward to our visits to Ragdale. I first came I think it was 1977. I came on my own and did go on a social table. Food was very different – breakfast was tea or coffee and a juice brought to your room, not like the fabulous choices now. Lunch and dinner although tasty were calorie counted, as at that time it was part of Slimming Magazine. In fact, several of us used to go to pub as we were hungry! No chance of that now. Treatments were good but obviously limited but appropriate for the time. What I love is how Ragdale is always updating and making sure everything is fabulous quality. We have a few people who ask why we don’t find anywhere nearer to where we live, but why would we, when we know we’re going to be treated beautifully.”

As we enter the next decade, the future of Ragdale Hall Spa continues to go from strength to strength and we can’t wait to welcome you through our doors for another 50 years. Cheers!

If you have any stories or photographs from your visit to Ragdale Hall Spa, whether you have only visited once or are a seasoned guest, we’d love to hear from you!  Please share in our comments section below your wonderful memories or if you would like to share your photographs, please send to marketing@ragdalehall.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Outdoor Pool in the 70’s

The Gym

The Verandah Bar

Hair Salon in 1991

Newly Refurbished Terrace Suite 2023

The Pavilion

Updated Exercise Pool

Ragdale Hall Spa present

33 responses to “Trip down memory lane – celebrating 50 years of Ragdale Hall”

  1. Lynn Dowrick says:

    There is no better place in the United Kingdom than Raggers! I’ve been on my own, with my late husband, with friends and recently with my new partner and always, always, always had an amazing time. I’ve seen it develop and keep up with the trends over the years. All the new additions to the building have been done with amazing style and taste, the treatments are always excellent and so is the food. From the moment you arrive, with the courtesy parking arrangements, the staff make you feel special and at home.
    Big thanks to all the wonderful staff – can’t wait for my next visit.

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Thank you so much for sharing these lovely memories! We look forward to seeing you again soon. Best Wishes, Becky

  2. sandy Kopec says:

    i have been coming to Ragdale for about 20 years and really look forward to my break. As soon as i walk in i feel such a calmness, as i have been coming by myself for the last couple of times i just wish you had a few more single rooms as it is really hard to book.

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Hi Sandy, thank you for your lovely words and your loyalty over the years! We are looking into how we can increase our availability of single rooms, as we understand that our guests are keen to return to the Hall. On occasion we have limited short-term availability so please let us know if you would like to be added to the list for single rooms and we can arrange this for you. Many Thanks, Becky – Ragdale Hall Social Team

  3. Sandra says:

    My friend and I first visited Ragdale in the 1980s when we had to be seen by the Nurse. We have seen Ragdale grow and look forward to our annual visit to see what has changed. We will be back in July as usual
    Our annual visit is a must

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Wow! Thank you for your loyalty Sandra! we look forward to seeing you in July! Best Wishes, Becky

  4. Candy Cooley says:

    I’ve been coming to Ragdale hall for 26 years. My dad paid for me and my friend for our first visit following my diagnosis with MS and her wonderful support during those scary months. We then cane for the Rosemary Conleys weeks, a most fabulous experience. I’ve been with other friends and my beautiful daughter but I’ll never forget my very first visit. That couple of days at Ragdale made me realise my diagnosis didn’t need to determine the rest of my life and I’ve just run a marathon at 66 so it really did make a difference!

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Hi Candy,
      This is so heart warming to read, you are an incredibly determined and inspirational person, and well done for running a marathon at 66!! Best wishes, Stacy

  5. Sally Edwards says:

    I became a member of Ragdale in 1990, having moved from Poynings (near Brighton), in 1988. When my husband and I moved to Nottinghamshire and I found out I only lived only a 10 minute drive away I knew I had to become a member, and duly went on the waiting list. Before becoming a member I spent many occasions as a resident at Ragdale when Slimming Magazine were the owners back in 1973 (I think). I looked forward to the times I stayed, making new friends, and the relaxing atmosphere, but I couldn’t say the food then was that great! There was no gym, just a room with a few pieces of equipment. There was a sauna, and I recall most days it was for Ladies only and maybe one day (or time) was allotted to the occasional man, not that I recall having seen many men there then. There was the one small swimming pool, a hairdressers and the boutique. The facials and treatments were very few, with a Slendertone machine as well. It really devoted its cliental to trying to lose weight. The breakfast consisted of a piece of what I called cardboard, and a little jug of skimmed milk for your tea. Anyone who wanted fun in the evening went into the “smokers room”, now the little lounge area. Often as a resident, a number of us would “escape” and go to The Durham Ox, where the DJ would take the Micky out of us, as we were obviously Ragdale escapees all ordering slimline lemons instead of a “fattening” G & T. Once there were two men who would sneak in bottles of wine (or did they bribe the night porter!!). It wasn’t until Michael and Garry took it over, that the impressive changes started to happen. Now Ragdale is so much a part of my life, I can’t imagine not being a member. I’ve seen so many of the milestone improvements and enjoyed so many Country Club events, but the one I most recollect is the very first one outside the front of the Hall in a Marquee with cocktails and a steel drum band playing, now that would be a really good event to repeat.

  6. Lynne Carboni says:

    I’ve been visiting Ragdale Hall for the last 23 years. It’s definitely my happy place. I always look forward to my visits and are never disappointed. See you all in September.

  7. Joan Smith says:

    Congratulations on your 50th anniversary. Have been coming to Ragdale for 20 years with a friend and now with my daughter and two granddaughters. The girls love it just as much as I do and I can’t wait until my next visit. What is good is that new things are always happening and the staff are wonderful. Keep up the good work.

  8. Karen says:

    My sister & I have been visiting Ragdale Hall since the early 90’s, gosh over 30 years! Last year we booked a suite and loved it. We have seen many changes and enjoyed them all. We are planning another visit this year. Thank you to all the wonderful staff and management that make the Ragdale such a wonderful oasis.

  9. Jennifer and Martin Jay says:

    Hello to all at fabulous Ragdale. When I first visited I had to see your nurse too ha! However we have had health issues so haven’t made it down to you but hopefully trying to get to you next year. We think you are amazing how you have grown so much over the years. Good luck and we look forward to seeing you very soon X

  10. Gill Robbs says:

    My daughter and I visited for a day on Wednesday we both had the most relaxing day. We have both visited before on breaks and spa days. The staff are always friendly and helpful and the food is delicious, we both look forward to visiting you again very soon.

  11. Liz Warwick says:

    I can’t remember the year I started visiting Ragdale but there was only one indoor pool (now the exercise pool), I also remember seeing the nurse, being weighed and blood pressure taken. Now, it is the only place I feel comfortable visiting alone but as someone else mentioned, a shortage of single rooms! All the staff make you feel so welcome from the minute you walk through the door. I’m booked in for 3 nights next month, can’t wait!

  12. Joanne Darbost says:

    I’ve been coming to Ragdale now for 27 years and whilst it’s bittersweet visiting these last few years without my late Mum (who used to say ‘yippee’ as we turned into the drive towards the Hall), I cannot imagine NOT going to Ragdale. It’s lovely to see the photos of how things used to be – especially the Verandah Bar, the hair salon on the first floor next to the bedrooms and the exercise pool with the foliage archway when it was the only pool!
    I’ve been a Country Club member for many years – I did wonder whether Mum and I were the most distant CC members – for years we drove a 3+ hour round trip just for lunch and a quick swim. The last 7 years, the roundtrip is down to 1hr 40, so I consider myself “local” – worth it for the Wimbledon (strawberries and cream) Cocktail, alone – please bring it back!
    Lovely to have known and been looked after by Jo Hallam for so many years and many other familiar faces. Love the additions to the building since the early 90’s and it’s still my go-to ‘me time’ for a Sunday afternoon.

  13. Joan Coe says:

    My sister treated me to our first visit to Ragdale for my 60th birthday. Our first visit was in 2002 when we booked the Blissfull package. We have been every year since missing only in lockdown. Later when we had stopped working full time we booked in for the Clarins/Elemis/Decleor 3 night package. I am sorry to see that you no longer include Decleor as this was my favourite. We have always had a great time. Everything, food, treatments and facilities are excellent and the changes over the years have added to the experience of a comfortable, unpretentious luxurious visit.

  14. Liz Baker says:

    I have been coming to Ragdale since the early 80s when we used to be brought a small extremely hard square cracker/ biscuit for breakfast.
    My trips are always rewarded with that wonderful relaxing aroma of Ragdale when you walk in the door!
    I’m trying to plan a revisit later this year with my daughter who is now 25 and who also loves the essence of Ragdale! You never fail to amaze how you just keep getting better.
    Thankyou Ragdale Hall xx

  15. Sally Danes says:

    Can not wait to celebrate 50 years with you when we visit on Tuesday – my twin sister and I visit every year and spend a truly lovely day together having treatments and using the amazing facilities – hoping we spend the next how many years doing the same – nowhere like Ragdale from the gorgeous smell as soon as you walk in to the amazing food and awesome amenities – it’s a truly magical place to visit – many congratulations 🥂🍾❤️

  16. Jane Meara says:

    I have been coming since 2003 , first with my mum then sister, then spreading the words so 16 of us for my 40th birthday, then friends, and when my daughter turned 16 continued with her and friends, in the last few years my husband has been converted. It’s my yearly treat as a long way from Northumberland and literally thrilled to be coming tomorrow to spend another visit, and will be there on your birthday day as lucky timing!. Ragdale has really made a difference to my life in the last 20 years, it’s my happy place, thank you.

  17. Joy says:

    My first visit was with a friend for my 40th birthday in 1994. We had to see the nurse and get weighed. She also asked what we wanted to achieve from our visit. I said rest and relaxation. I’ve been every year since and now visit 3 or 4 times a year for a week at a time. Absolutely love Rags. It is the staff that make it special. Have seen many changes which have always enhanced my visit. See you in July.

  18. Allison Bird says:

    I have been going to Ragdale for the last 11 years first few times via Essentials Magazine in which on arrival in our room was a goody bag from Essentials with lots of beauty products & other freebies. We also met one year the editor of the mag at Ragdale who gave a fab talk, real shame the mag finished. I have continued going & introduced many friends & family no other Spa has matched it. I would have no hesitation in going alone but haven’t as always people wanting to come along when they hear how good it is. looking forward to my next visit & many more 🍾🥂

  19. Ruma Nunes says:

    My friend Jenny and I have been going to Ragdale since 1996/7 we come often as we can and it’s our second home… will be visiting again this July too.., I remember the exercise pool being the main pool with the jacuzzi in the top back right area as you entered the pool. Saw the dining room extended, so many changes and now looking forward to the cocktail bar… the infinity pool is fabulous… love Ragdale… nothing compares to you

  20. Tracy Atkinson says:

    My first visit was with a friend in 1997 followed by annual visits with mum for the last 20 years.
    Truly an amazing and special experience.

  21. Tracy Gregory says:

    I’ve been visiting Ragdale since 1987. I’ve seen many changes and everyone of them has the wow factor.
    Back in 1987 we use to hide chocolate bars in our luggage and smuggle in alcohol for the evenings as it wasn’t allowed.
    Ragdale has always been my favourite spa. You feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment you walk through the door. That’s why I return every year. I’m celebrating my 60th birthday there in December.
    Well done Ragdale you’re the best

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Thank you Tracy ❤️
      We look forward to celebrating with you for your 60th birthday in December.
      Best wishes,

  22. Joan says:

    Before I found Ragdale I tried other spas and none measure up. In two weeks I will be back for my next stay and I cannot wait. See you soon.

  23. Jacky says:

    We managed to squeeze in two visits this year. We have been coming for over 10 years and it’s worth the journey. Think you need to add a pic of the pool hoist am sure Robin would be your guinea pig. Your disabled changing room poolside is the best I have been in. It’s so luxurious and I have been in hundreds. We always go back so relaxed abit fitter and a bit fatter

  24. victoria sladen says:

    I first visited Ragdale Hall in 1990. I was a young widow and really struggling with depression. A friend took me and I had a wonderful time. I visited regularly on my own often three times a year for many years after that. Ragdale became a sanctuary for me and was certainly part of my healing process. The staff were always kind professional and friendly recognising me and making me feel so welcome. I remember in the early days parking my car at the front and leaving it to be parked for me and the car would always be cleaned ready for my departure. One of the major highlights of my visits were the Ragdale Hall cats. First of all there was Pampurrs who lived in the garden and was looked after by the gardeners. I would take him treats and sit with him. On the odd occasion he would get in and wander down the stone corridor. I have his picture here. Wraggles followed and was given her own chair in the lounge. Perfect peace sitting relaxing with her. I found peace and happiness during my Ragdale visits and am very grateful to the amazing owners and staff who made that possible for me.

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Thank you Victoria for sharing this with us. It’s so lovely to read how Ragdale became your sanctuary of peace and healing. Thank you for your loyalty and for your kind words and stories. We love to hear about Pampurrs and Raggles, such curious characters but wonderful company. Best Wishes, Becky

  25. Carol Ann Wilson says:

    Hi There, congratulations on your 50th Anniversary. My first visit was in 1976, with some Slimming club members, a three night stay for £90, ( if I remember correctly) it was an offer through the Slimming magazine.
    We had a wonderful time, despite being hungry nearly all the while, none of us had ever experienced anything like it before, such an eye opener into another world!
    We still visit was much as we can, if i cannot make it I usually treat family members for Birthday/Christmas, they love it as much as I do.
    For me, it is the best Spa anywhere, the friendliness of all the staff is amazing! Well done.

    • Ragdale Hall Spa says:

      Thank you Carol for your well wishes! So pleased that you are still visiting us and having a fabulous time, hopefully not leaving us hungry now! Hope to see you, your friends and family again soon. Best Wishes, Becky

  26. Veronica Crocker says:

    Have been visiting Ragdale for 20 years and always feel totally relaxed the minute I walk through the front door.
    So welcoming and friendly.All the staff go above and beyond to make each stay so enjoyable.
    Looking forward to returning again in September and finding out what new and exciting things you have in store.
    Keep up the excellent work.
    Best Wishes Veronica

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Ragdale News

How your diet can aid sleep

Feb 28, 2024

By Dean Hodgkin – Health & Fitness Consultant An often-overlooked element of wellness,…

Perfectly prepared for a good nights sleep

Feb 28, 2024

With January seeming to never end and an extra day in February, it seems strange to…

What is Niacinamide and How Does It Benefit Your Skin?

Feb 01, 2024

By Jo Phillips–Ames, Beauty Shop Supervisor Niacinamide, if you are serious about skin…