10 Historic Hotels along the English Riviera
by Adrian Mourby (February 2013)
Travel through Hampshire, Dorset and Devon and you rapidly leave behind those seaside resorts that owe their existence to day-trippers from London. Christchurch, Lyme Regis and Torquay are old coastal settlements along what has chosen to promote itself as the English Riviera. This is a seafarers’ landscape, not as wild as Cornwall but full of history. While there are still plenty of resorts that owe their existence to Victorian developers, you’ll also encounter ruined castles, ancient forests, medieval houses and priories. There are very few pubs along the coasts of Dorset and Devon that don’t claim a long association with smugglers - or the Royal Navy.
Showing below are all 9 records in "10 Historic Hotels along the English Riviera"
Christchurch Road, New Milton
Although built in the early eighteenth century, Chewton Glen wrote itself into the history books during the 1840s when Captain Frederick Marryat came to stay here. George Marryat had bought Chewton in 1837 and the house was a good place for his brother Frederick to work on his novel The Children of the New Forest, which was published in 1847. Today visitors can arrive at Chewton Glen through that very same forest.
East Street, Corfe Castle
The Isle of Purbeck is not really an island although it is surrounded by water or swamps on all sides. This idiosyncratic part of the English coastline is epitomised by Morton’s House, which was built in the 1590s by William Dacomb and extended 1666 using stone taken from the ruins of Corfe Castle. The house was originally linked by underground tunnels to the castle. Its current name comes from John Morton who inherited the house in 1712.
95 Mudeford, Christchurch
The tranquil view from this harbour hotel takes in an Anglo-Saxon trading port that was fortified as long ago as the ninth century. Originally called Twynham, the port was renamed Christchurch in 1094 after the construction of a Norman priory. The harbour was a refuge for those smuggling goods from France. Here they would congregate in The Ship Inn and Ye Olde Eight Bells, both notorious alehouses in the eighteenth century.
18 Castle Street, Christchurch
Built during a period of eighteenth century prosperity, King’s Hotel is a sturdy yellow brick building overlooking the ruins of Christchurch Castle. A stone castle was built here in the twelfth century but during the Civil War it was destroyed by the Parliamentary Army to stop it falling into Royalist hands. The house of the castle's constable contains a rare example of a Norman chimneypiece.
30 West Hill Road, West Cliff, Bournemouth
With its bay windows and turrets the Connaught Hotel was clearly built as a family home in the 1850s. As such it was part of the rapid development of Bournemouth that followed its inclusion in a book The Spas of England, by the physician Augustus Granville. Granville’s book (1841) drew visitors who hitherto had preferred Weymouth and Brighton.
Church Green, Wareham
Wareham Priory was founded in 672AD but destroyed by Viking raiders in 876. It was refounded in 915 by Elfleda, a Saxon noblewoman and became a Benedictine priory in the early twelfth century. This in turn was suppressed in 1414. Thereafter a Carthusian Priory stood on this site until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 when parts of the priory lodgings were turned into an inn.
3 Prout Bridge, Beaminster
Beaminster is an attractive stone village inland from Lyme Regis that has managed to move very little with the times. The failure of the expanding railway network to link with Beaminster saved this small town from much nineteenth-century development. Bridge House on Prout Hill is typical of the town, a low 700-year-old dwelling that was built for a medieval priest. It retains its mullioned windows, beams and inglenook fireplaces.
Sea Front, Torquay
Torquay became fashionable during the Napoleonic Wars as a resort for Royal Navy officers. Its Grand Hotel, built in 1881, is one of those quintessential British grand dames that line the south coast. Agatha Christie spent her honeymoon here after marrying her first husband in London on Christmas Eve 1914. Dame Agatha was Torquay-born and so the Grand would have seemed an obvious place to honeymoon.
Pound Street, Lyme Regis
The “Alex”, as it is known locally, overlooks Cobb Harbour in Lyme Regis, the setting for John Fowles’ novel – and the Meryl Streep film of – The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The original building was constructed in 1735 as a home for the Dowager Countess Poulett and was later the residence of the Duc du Stacpoole before becoming a hotel in 1901 with the addition of a Victorian bay window over its neo-classic portico.
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