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TOP TEN HISTORIC HOTELS IN THE MIDLANDS

Adrian Mourby

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Britain is full of old manor houses and monasteries that have been turned into hotels, as well as coaching inns that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Some historic hotels – like the Randolph in Oxford – were purpose-built but the majority are conversions, and are often a composite of many building styles as medieval church properties were converted first into homes and then into hotels. Some claim to have ghosts, and I'm forever being told that Charles II or Elizabeth I slept in my room but the best simply recall the calm and comfort of an English country house weekend in the Edwardian era.
The Noel Arms

Chipping Camden is famous for its 17th-century High Street on which stand several buildings dating from before the English Civil War. It is believed that the future King Charles II stayed at the Noel Arms before Chipping Camden fell to the Parliamentarians. Today the 17th century connection is celebrated with a four-poster room with a carved bed from the 1600s.

Ettington Park

The Shirley family have been lords of the manor since the Domesday Book and Ettington Park was their neo-Gothic home in the 19th-century. Before being turned into a hotel, Ettington featured in the 1963 horror movie The Haunting. Its variegated stonework, ogee windows, panelled library and tall roofline make it a perfect – if slightly sinister - example of Victorian domestic architecture.

The Speech House Hotel

In 1668 the Speech House was constructed as a parliament and administrative building for all the free-miners and crown employees working in the Royal Forest of Dean. It was damaged in the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 and in 1840 converted into a coaching inn. By the end of the 19th century it was a hotel with, as today, four-poster beds.

Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa

The original 15th-century manor house of Fawsley is at the centre of this hotel with its vaulted great hall and bedroom in which Queen Elizabeth I probably slept. Interestingly the hall was developed in both the Georgian and Victorian periods so today it's a treasure trove of architectural styles. The oldest part is the kitchen fireplace, removed from a medieval monastery.

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Most hotels acquire history as the years go by, but Oxfordshire's Manoir has actually made history by turning a 15th-century Chiltern manor house into one of England's top restaurants. In 1984 the self-taught chef, Raymond Blanc opened the Manoir. Ever since it has held two Michelin stars and five AA Rosettes, a unique achievement for a hotel restaurant.

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