AN iconic Knutsford building has re-opened to the public after seven years behind closed doors, with an official launch event lined up for next month.

The Courthouse Hotel in Toft Road has been restored by the team at Flat Cap Hotels, with the Barristers Restaurant and Bar now open serving lunch, afternoon tea and an evening menu.

The 90-cover restaurant, open from 11am every day, makes use of the former courtroom – part of the Sessions House which closed in 2010 when judicial proceedings were moved to Crewe.

Dominic Heywood, co-founder of Flat Cap Hotels, said: “It’s fantastic that the building is now open to the public for the first time in seven years.

“We have been through quite a thorough and sympathetic restoration process, rather than a refurbishment. It’s been a complete restoration and it’s now a building that can be used for a variety of events.

“It’s a quirky and fluid social space.

“We are open and trading, and people can come in and try out the menu. We are training the team over the next few weeks, and then we will have our launch night.”

Executive Chef Stephen Tuke has put together a British seasonal menu, while Flat Cap Hotels commissioned Knutsford-based Vermillion Studios to produce eight pieces of artwork for the restaurant.

Artist James Blankhorn has created portraits of famous past convicts, and diners will be watched by such faces as Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Sirius Black and Elvis Presley.

A launch event takes place at the venue on Saturday, July 1, while later in July will see the opening of the 100-capacity Rooftop Gardens champagne and cocktail bar.

Continuing the staggered opening of the Georgian building, 10 bedrooms will be available before the end of the year, with a further 40 being added to the rear of the site in 2018.

The main Court Room, with original and restored features, will have a reception capacity of 400.

The project will be complete in the 200th anniversary year of the building’s initial opening, when it was designed by renowned architect George Moneypenny.

Flat Cap Hotels was founded in 2015 by brothers Dominic and Oliver Heywood, and took on The Vicarage in Holmes Chapel before acquiring the Sessions House.