The Royal Hotel

13 Sep 1999
The Royal Hotel, Barnstaple Street, Bideford, Torridge, Devon, EX39 4AE
Photograph (Digital)
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.


SS4526 BARNSTAPLE STREET, East-The-Water 842-1/7/269 (East side) 08/11/49 The Royal Hotel


House, now hotel. Late C17 (believed to be 1688); enlarged and converted to an hotel in 1889. Solid rendered walls. Slate roof. Old red-brick chimney with upper courses projecting to from an entablature, on ridge of C17 range to left. Several late C19 red-brick chimneys in similar style. Plan: late C17 range is one room deep and 3 rooms wide, the middle room forming the stair compartment and original main entrance; on the first floor 2 original closets are taken out of the left side of the left-hand room. Wood's map of 1842 shows a left wing and rear block. In 1889 the New London Inn to the right was joined to the house, rebuilt or enlarged, and the whole converted to a high-class hotel. This added range is 2 rooms wide and 3 rooms deep, the middle room containing entrance-hall and main staircase. The rear block of 1842 was also rebuilt or converted into a domestic range with direct access to the railway platform behind. The courtyard between it and the C17 house is now occupied by a single-storeyed dining-room with covered-in well. C17 house 2-storeyed with garret; remainder 3-storeyed. C17 part is of 8-window range with original entrance in place of fourth ground-storey window from left. Horizontallly-channelled ground storey with moulded plinth; late C19 keystones with eagles projecting from them. Entablature above, the frieze decorated with circular panels. Upper-storey windows have bolection-moulded architraves and bracketed sills. Parapet designed as a simple entablature. Original entrance has double-doors; each leaf with a flush lower panel built out in shallow pyramidal form; above it a taller enriched panel with round head. In place of third window from right are mid/late C20 double-doors and canopy, possibly replacing an earlier entrance. Windows in both storeys have 2-paned sashes with margin-panes. One mid/late C20 dormer-window. Right-hand half of building is closely similar in style: 4 windows wide with 1 window on the splayed corner and 4 on the return front to right. Entablature above second storey with prominent cornice. In the third storey the corner window and the adjoining window on each front are developed into a quasi-octagonal turret with genuinely octagonal steeple. Adjoining windows finished with triangular pediments containing incised royal arms and surmounted by ball-finials on pedestals. One of the Barnstaple Street ground-storey windows is a former doorway, the first-floor entablature built out as a bracketed hood and surmounted by a scrolled ball-finial. Main entrance on return front has pilasters and a low segmental hood on massive brackets. Windows have plain sashes throughout, except in canted bay to right of ground storey in return front; this has barred sashes and top entablature. Rear elevation to former railway platform (now a public path) is 2-storeyed in similar style to the front. Single-storeyed porch with panelled piers. Gable with ball-finial at either end. Large canted bay window to left. Simple C19 iron railings in front; steps to left have more elaborate baluster-rails inscribed TARDREW & CO. BIDEFORD. INTERIOR: C17 range has wooden open-well staircase rising to garret; very heavily-built balustrades with pulvinated closed strings, turned balusters, square newels with flat moulded caps and flower-pendants, flat moulded handrail. Bolection-moulded plaster panels on undersides of flights and landings. Dado with raised bolection-moulded panels, rising to 2 heights on 1st-floor landing; upper panels elsewhere are probably C19 or C20. At 1st floor double-doors to each adjacent room: bolection-moulded panels, pulvinated friezes and broken triangular pediments. Kingsley Room to right has raised bolection-moulded panelling of 2 heights in varnished deal with boxed cornice: bolection-moulded wood chimneypiece has overmantel with bolection-moulded panel containing original oil painting of rural scene, hearth with black and white diamond paving-stones and C19 interior with coloured patterned tiles; bolection-moulded double-doors to right. Kingsley Room also has original moulded plaster ceiling with enriched ribs and hight-relief wired ornaments (birds, serpents, cherubs, masks, cartouches, fruit and foliage); quatrefoil centre panel. Bolection-moulded panelled shutters. Kingsley Bedroom to left is closely similar, but with painted panelling and plain shutters: chimneypiece has no oil painting, but inset is a smaller mid C19 white marble chimneypiece with contemporary keyhole-shaped iron grate; ceiling has simpler-shaped panels with less enrichments and a smaller range of wired ornaments. Front closet to left also has raised bolection-moulded panelling. 1889 extension has wooden stair in a roughly late C17 manner; ground-floor public rooms finished in the same style. At rear of ground-floor to left, 3 cells with studded wooden doors and inspection hatches, probably mid C19; Wood's map of 1842 calls the C17 building 'Old Work House'. The original house is reputed to have been built for John Davie, merchant, mayor in 1688. Its workmanship is of even higher quality than that of the contemporary houses in Bridgeland Street; it contains the best urban plasterwork of its date in Devon, rivalled only by that of the Exeter Customs House. In 1937 Lilian Sheldon described the front as carrying the inscription COLONIAL 1688 HOUSE; a more recent metal plaque reads 'Formerly Colonial Buildings Erected 1698'. Charles Kingsley is traditionally said to have written 'Westward Ho!' in the Kingsley Room, although the local historian, WH Rogers, pours scorn on the idea. (The Buildings of England: Cherry B: Devon (2nd edition): London: 1989-: P.86-87, 180; Rogers WH: Notes on Bideford (typescript): P.77-78; Transactions of Devonshire Association: Sheldon Lilian: Devon Inns: 1937-: P.376; Blankart GP: The Art of the Plasterer: 1908-: P.273, 278; Devon Building: 1990-: P.84, 146).

Listing NGR: SS4571326405


This is part of the Series: IOE01/1773 IOE Records taken by Tim Sanders; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Mr Tim Sanders. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Sanders, Tim

Rights Holder: Sanders, Tim


Iron, Render, Slate, Tudor House, Elizabethan Monument <By Form>, Stuart Domestic, Jacobean Dwelling, Railings, Barrier, Inn, Commercial, Residential Building, Hostel, Service Wing, Steps, Transport, Pedestrian Transport Site, Courtyard, Gardens Parks And Urban Spaces, Well, Water Supply And Drainage, Water Storage Site, Workhouse, Health And Welfare