LEDBURY estate agents Hayes closed on Tuesday, as steps were taken to put the New Street business into liquidation.

The business employed sixteen members of staff, based in Ledbury and at the Monmouth office, and these have lost their jobs.

A former employee, who did not wish to be named, said the closure was expected, but she added: "The feeling is a bit bitter, to be honest".

She added: "We are all not getting paid for the last month. But it is onwards as upwards as far as I'm concerned."

She said she had already secured other work.

The estate agent was one of the most high profile businesses in Ledbury, having famously handled the sale of Donnington Hall to actress Liz Hurley for a reported £6m price tag, back in August 2012.

Two miles from Ledbury, the impressive property boasts a tennis court, fishing lake, housekeeper accommodation and 21 acres of woodland. It also has Edwardian stables and open fields.

The sale of what was described at the time as an "exceptional Georgian country estate, set within its own grounds of approximately 187 Acres", really set the seal on the Hayes style, with the businesses' perceived emphasis on high value rural estates, attractive to outside buyers, including from London.

Information on the Hayes website states: "Hayes Estate Agents focuses on the marketing and sale of character properties and period properties, whether bijou cottages, barn conversions, Georgian townhouses, equestrian facilities or landed estates. Whilst the bulk of Hayes' properties are rural or semi-rural, it is our specialisation and focus on period properties which is Hayes defining characteristic."

The business opened in August 2004, as Hayes Sales and Lettings, with a focus on properties in Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire and Shropshire.

Expansion for Hayes, which was run by directors Colleen Hayes and Craig Coldicott, was on the cards; and a second Hayes branch was opened around two years ago, at Agincourt Square, Monmouth.

This has now closed, alongside the Ledbury branch.

A spokesman for Hayes, who did not wish to be named, said: "Sadly, steps are being taken to put the company into liquidation. It is being marketed for sale."

The Reporter understands that the business will be handled by Harrison's Business Recovery and Insolvency Specialists, which has several branches, with one in Hereford and another in Worcester.