Ten luxury Hotels visited by royals
by Adrian Mourby (June 2013)
Wherever you go in Britain you'll find plaques commemorating visits by our numerous kings and queens. These days a royal visit can be a fleeting thing bookended by car, train or helicopter arrivals and departures, but in the days before the railways, kings and queens used to take several weeks or even months to travel round the country. Quite a few buildings can claim a royal person as an overnight guest and some of these are now hotels. It's rare that any souvenir of the royal visitor remains, but the story of how he or she came to be there is often fascinating. Elizabeth I toured the country to keep down costs, Charles II did most of his travelling while on the run from Oliver Cromwell's troops, and Queen Victoria often holidayed in Scotland to avoid the demands of her prime ministers. Not all these stories can be verified. It's impossible that Charles II stayed in every pub known as the King's Head or Royal Oak, but wherever you find the royal connection there's bound to be a good tale attached.
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Elizabeth I saved on the upkeep of the court by lengthy progresses round the country that required her nobles to foot the bill for feeding her household. The queen stayed at the fifteenth-century manor house of Fawsley in 1575 as a guest of the MP, Sir Richard Knightley. Sir Richard later fell from royal favour for secretly printing Puritan tracts at Fawsley Hall. The bedroom Elizabeth is thought to have used – overlooking the Great Hall - is now very popular with brides who book their weddings there.
East Street, Corfe Castle
When the Dacomb family built this manor house in 1590 an extra wing was added to give the building an “E” shape in honour of Elizabeth I who eventually came to stay. The aged queen was still short of money and in need of free lodgings. Controversially she had just got herself in trouble with Parliament for bypassing them and raising revenue from selling patronages. The manor was enlarged after the Civil War using stones from nearby Corfe Castle which had been blown up by Parliamentarians.
High Street, Chipping Campden
In 1651 after Charles I was defeated at the Battle of Worcester his son, the future Charles II, went on the run. Disguised as a servant, Prince Charles passed through Stratford and Wooton Warren and may have spent the night at the Noel Arms in Chipping Camden before it too fell to the Parliamentarian Army. So many English inns and hotels claim Charles I OR II that it would have taken him a year to get out of Britain if he’d stopped at all of them, but the Noel Arms was certainly on his route to the sea. The hotel today retains many original seventeenth-century features.
In The Hills Above Contin, Strathpeffer
Coul House with its remarkable octagonal core was built for Sir George Steuart Mackenzie, Seventh Baronet of Coul in 1821. His descendant, Robert Ramsay Mackenzie, the Tenth Baronet, was for many years Governor General of Queensland but returned to live in the house from 1868 until his death in 1873. The Mackenzies then abandoned Coul, but the house was used in 1888 to entertain Queen Victoria, a great enthusiast for Scotland, who had been visiting the nearby spa town of Strathpeffer. In her honour there was a Highland gathering at Coul House and a painting of that occasion is in the possession of Stuart and Susannah Macpherson, the current owners.
King Edward´s Parade, Eastbourne
In May 1901 Edward VII had only been king four months when he came to Eastbourne for a royal house party at Compton Place in the company of the Marquis of Abergavenny. By this stage Compton Place had been made into a golf course by its owner, the Seventh Duke of Devonshire. The Duke had also turned half the Compton estate into the seaside town of Eastbourne and The Grand Hotel (built in 1875 by William Earp) was its undoubted showpiece. Before leaving Eastbourne, the king inspected the hotel. To this day the Dukes of Devonshire have a suite reserved for them in The Imperial.
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