Granville House (the former Granville Hotel)
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- Granville Court, D'este Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8DD
- Statutory Address:
- Granville House, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8DF
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- Statutory Address:
- Granville Court, D'este Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8DD
- Statutory Address:
- Granville House, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 8DF
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Thanet (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TR 38797 65183
A terrace turned hotel built 1867-1869 to the designs of E W Pugin, with a series of later additions and alterations.
Reasons for Designation
The former Granville Hotel on Victoria Parade is listed for the following principal reasons:
* as a major secular building by Edward Welby Pugin, a work of great architectural ambition built in a varied and well-executed Gothic Revival style; * for the impressive surviving ensemble of grand ground-floor public rooms which served the former hotel, set out by Pugin and remodelled in an eclectic neoclassical manner by Horace Field;
* as a prestigious seafront hotel of the late 1860s, which, although converted, still stands as a prominent and evocative example of the type of grand resort establishments built in the mid-Victorian years in which mass tourism flourished;
* with memorial bust of E W Pugin, the Victoria Gardens kiosk and the Festival of Britain fountain to Victoria Parade, all listed at Grade II.
Ramsgate emerged as a popular seaside resort from the mid-C18, its growth at this time accelerated by road improvements and faster sea passage offered by hoys, packets and steamers. The town saw significant investment in the early C19 and Ramsgate’s importance into the 1820s is attested by its patronage by the British and European royal families and the creation of a separate parish by Act of Parliament. The arrival of the South Eastern Railway’s branch line in 1846 opened up Ramsgate to mass tourism and popular culture, bringing a range of inexpensive, lively resort facilities intended for the sorts of middle- and working-class holidaymakers depicted in W P Frith’s painting ‘Ramsgate Sands’ of 1854 (Royal Collection). The later arrival of the London Chatham and Dover line at East Cliff in 1863 made the suburb a prime area for expansion and development; the location, being a respectable distance from the town with fine views, came to be favoured by wealthier visitors who were accommodated at new developments, of which E W Pugin’s Granville Hotel of 1867-1869 was the most prestigious example.
The Granville development, so named after George Leverson Gower, second Earl Granville (1815-1891), was a venture undertaken by Edward Welby Pugin, together with investors Robert Sankey, George Burgess and John Barnet Hodgson on land acquired from the Mount Albion Estate in 1867. The scheme was to be an important new building in the eastward expansion of the town and the emergence of a fashionable new suburb. At the outset, the intention was to build a relatively restrained speculative terrace of large townhouses with some additional facilities. However, as the scheme progressed and it became apparent that buyers could not be secured, revised plans for an enlarged hotel complex were adopted in 1868 and brought to completion in 1869. These plans, which added a series of grand rooms including a banqueting hall, receptions rooms and an entrance hall in addition to a tunnel to connect to the railway line on the seafront, gardens, a complex of Turkish baths and a vast landmark tower (originally 170ft high, although truncated at a relatively early date), were remarkably ambitious. Ultimately, as it would transpire, the scheme was rather too ambitious on Pugin’s part; with his increasing reliance on loans eventually culminating in bankruptcy in October 1872, an event which precipitated his demise as an architect, tragically followed by his death just three years later.
Upon the completion of the Granville, the prospects for the new complex had appeared promising. An opening ball held in the Granville Hall attended by county society in December 1869 heralded the success of the impressive new building, which was celebrated as a sophisticated complex for affluent visitors. The hotel also had a wider effect on the emerging fashionable suburb on the East Cliff, bringing prosperity and glamour to the area. However, behind the scenes, the relationship between Pugin and his co-investors was turning increasing acrimonious. An indenture between Pugin and Hodgson (the contractor for the hotel) signed in 1868 became the subject of a costly and rancorous legal dispute which contributed to Pugin’s bankruptcy with liabilities of close to £200,000. This led to the loss of Pugin’s share in the Granville endeavour. The hotel was repossessed by Coutts Bank in 1872 and was subsequently sold to the developer and Liberal parliamentary candidate Edmund Davis in 1876. Without Pugin, new plans for the north-west corner of the site were advanced, providing a new assembly hall built to the designs of J T Wimperis (1873-1874). To the front of the hotel, plans were developed for the landscaping of the Victoria Gardens and construction of Granville Marina on the seafront (1876-1877). Two additional floors were added to the east range of the hotel after 1877.
Into the late C19, the Granville Hotel became established as a nationally-celebrated institution. A chartered weekend train - the ‘Granville Express’ – transported guests directly from London Victoria to the luxurious hotel and the famed baths; facilities which were claimed to be the ‘most perfect in the Kingdom’ in advertisements. In 1900 the Granville was being run by the successful hoteliers, Messrs Spiers and Pond. Responding to changing architectural tastes, Horace Field was commissioned to modify what was by this stage considered to be the rather unfashionably stern Gothic façade. This work involved the introduction of fine ironwork balconies, a classical pedimented entrance and a colonnade on slender Ionic columns to run the full width of the façade. The work was in itself quite elegant, but presented a rather stark stylistic contrast with Pugin’s original design, ‘as if someone has made rather too free with cosmetics upon an austere and elderly face’ as Catriona Blaker, writing on Pugin’s work in Kent, noted of the later work (Edward Pugin and Kent, Pugin Society, 2003). Extensive internal work was also undertaken at this time, with the grand public rooms remodelled along classical lines, and an array of Tudor, Georgian, Louis XVI, Dutch and Chippendale suites created to satisfy the apparently eclectic tastes of guests.
The Granville continued to serve as a prestigious hotel into the C20, save for a brief stint as a hospital for Canadian soldiers when it was requisitioned during the First World War. The 1920s brought a period of further investment, with a scheme of further internal modernisation costing over £60,000. The fortunes of the building turned in the mid-C20, when the Granville suffered a series of unfortunate events. The western corner of the hotel was significantly damaged by enemy action on 12 November 1940. The site was subsequently cleared and the building was again remodelled in 1947 to convert the hotel suites to private apartments, whilst the banqueting rooms, dining rooms, the bar and Turkish baths were retained for public use. However, by 1980, the baths and the Wimperis grand hall on the north-west side of the site had fallen out of use: consent was granted for demolition in 1980 and 1982 respectively and this part of the plot remains vacant in 2019. Shortly after these losses, in April 1985, a major fire destroyed the grand central staircase, but, owing to the timely installation of fire doors shortly before, this did not spread to other parts of the building. The stairs were subsequently faithfully rebuilt as part of a £1.5 million restoration programme. In 2002, a development scheme to create a block of new apartments on the west side of site (which involved rebuilding a slightly modified replica of the destroyed wing) was granted consent. This was completed in 2004 by Clagues of Canterbury for Oakleigh Developments Ltd.
A terrace turned hotel built 1867-1869 to the designs of E W Pugin (1834-1875), with a series of later additions and alterations from the late C19 and C20. The west end was built in 2004, occupying the site of the previous wing of the hotel destroyed in 1940.
MATERIALS: stock brick and slate roof with stone dressings and balconies, additional cast-iron balconies and grilles were added in 1900.
PLAN: four storeys, with attic and basement. Raised and colonnaded ground floor to Victoria Parade. The east range, built 1868-69 with two additional floors built in the late C19 (after 1877), contains the Granville Bar (south side) with access to the Prince Albert room (to the east) and an anteroom and the banqueting hall on the north side of this range. The upper floors have apartments set-off central corridors (as they were configured in 1947 when converted from a hotel). The main open-well central staircase and lift is set to the rear of the main range, with further staircases to the east and west. The basement contains vaulted wine cellars, stores and workshop/service rooms. In the centre of the south side of the basement is a narrow tunnel excavated from the chalk cliff, which once connected the hotel to the railway station on the seafront.
EXTERIOR: dense and robust Gothic Revival principal façade, with lighter, more ornate classical embellishments of 1900. The façade, which can still be read as a series of distinct grand townhouses as initially intended in 1867, is of four storeys with an attic and basement, divided by canted, projecting window bays to the first and second floors. Bookending the façade are a pair of gable-fronted bays with buttresses, pierced stone balconies (to the third storey) and pointed-arch gable windows comprised of a traceried ocular window over a wider casement window (the east end is original and the west was rebuilt in 2004 in a similar style, albeit with an additional floor integrated). Pugin’s original window arrangement, which remains on the first floor and above, is principally of single and tripartite sashes set under rebated segmental heads. Tripartite full-height sashes and French windows set in moulded and keyed surrounds were introduced in 1900 on the ground floor by Horace Field. A variety of dormer windows feature above; the original part of the mansard roof has two brick gabled half dormers (a third was destroyed in 1940). Flanking these are five Queen Anne style dormers (added 1900; a sixth window to the west was also destroyed in 1940). The three remaining ridge stacks divide these dormers. The west end has a modern pair of dormers.
The classical colonnade, the most significant of Horace Field's additions of 1900, spans the full width of the Victoria Parade façade. At first-floor level this forms a continuous balcony, which features ornate ironwork balustrades to either side of a central pediment (decorated with a garlanded cartouche) over the main entrance. This central entrance has six steps leading to double panelled doors, set beneath a lunette fanlight with leaded glazing. The colonnade is raised slightly above street level, with cast-iron grilles between the brick piers giving light to the covered service run beneath.
The eastern return range fronting Victoria Road has a pair of window bays continuing the arrangement of the principal façade and then progresses into an equally dense, muscular Lombardi Gothic range added in 1868-1869 (with two extra storeys added to the central part after 1877, these largely replicating the original form). This elevation is composed of a central trio of buttress-stacks interspersed between four bays of rebated and segmentally-headed sashes, strung together by continuous plat and cill bands at each level and set beneath a Lombard frieze parapet. Flanking this central arrangement is a pair of projecting bays with tripartite sash windows, also with rebated segmental arches. At the northern end of the range is a bay that steps out from the range and continues the tripartite sash arrangement whilst introducing two pierced stone balconies (to the first and second storeys) and an additional fifth storey with crenelated turrets. The grand terminal tower at the end of the range features substantial battered buttresses and brick balconies at second-floor level (to the north and east elevations), both with a rendered arched area above (the design echoing Pugin’s almost contemporary tower at Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire; listed Grade II). The tower’s original form has been truncated and a battlemented stage rebuilt.
On the north elevation, adjoining the tower, are three additional bays of contemporary date. Each bay has a trio of sash windows under segmental arches; that to the east of five storeys with one remaining stone Granville lion finial to its parapet (two other examples were apparently removed from the building and are situated around 100m metres further east along Victoria Parade; both listed Grade II, National Heritage List for England 1281639). The western pair of bays both have double-storey oriel windows on stepped brick brackets above large pointed-arch windows at street level. The western gable end of this north range is plain, but does bear the gable marks of the previous adjoining Turkish bath range (for which demolition was consented in 1980).
INTERIOR: the main Victoria Parade entrance hall is reached via a fine revolving door set into a part-glazed screen. The Tuscan columned entrance hall has fielded panelling with a bead moulded cornice, a marble tile floor and a pair of grand fireplaces with swagged overmantles; the whole scheme is executed in an Adamesque classical style (presumably the work of Field in 1900). This room opens to a grand staircase with a turned baluster open-well stair, entirely rebuilt after a fire in 1985. A series of leaded stained-glass windows feature here, including the heraldic crests of Kent, Ramsgate, Dover and Broadstairs along with shell and conch motifs. Individual apartments were not inspected, but some original four-panelled doors and part of a staircase with chamfered leading edges and newel posts redolent of Pugin’s ecclesiastical fittings of the period are retained on the upper floor of the easternmost bay of the Victoria Parade range. The interior of the tower was not inspected (2018). The western Granville Court addition of 2004 contains a series of residential apartments* which are all designed to standard specifications and do not contribute to the special interest of the wider site. These are excluded from this listing.
The ground floor of the eastern range is comprised of a series of grand rooms and halls. From the south, these are:
The Granville Bar: a broad undivided room with full-height fielded panelling, a bead moulded cornice, engaged fluted pilasters with gilt Corinthian capitals paired with matching columns to the north and south walls and two exceptionally wide fireplaces with overmantles (centrally positioned on west and east walls). Small cast-iron fireplaces are set within marble architraves and flanked by mottled yellow glazed cheek tiles. The fire surrounds are keyed and lobed with elaborate swag detailing marking out a central cartouche bearing the letter ‘G’ (this feature being repeated above the double doors to the north). The room is served by an inserted octagonal island bar counter and bar back.
Prince Albert Room: originally a ballroom/concert room, with a central maple sprung floor. The room is decorated in a lavish Louis XVI style, giving some sense of the High-Victorian eclecticism of the 1900 design scheme commissioned by Spiers and Pond. Ornate plaster work border to the ceiling, with deep coving beneath the cornice. A series of panels with elaborate scrolled surrounds are interspersed between windows and doors above a dado rail. Above the panelled, part-glazed double doors there is further intricate scroll and swag ornamentation. A fireplace with an overmantle (west wall) has been stripped out, leaving exposed brick.
Anteroom: a small square room set-off the Prince Albert Room and Granville Bar. Each wall has keyed arches recessed within a broader arch; the corners between the arches forming spandrels which rise to a circular plaster ceiling panel (which presumably originally possessed a chandelier as a centrepiece).
Banqueting Hall: this is the largest room within the east range and the only space where Pugin’s initial phase of work at the Granville can be seen clearly; his hand being most evident in the elaborate Baronial style fireplace (west wall). This has engaged granite columns and finely carved stone capitals, foliage details and an arched overmantle with a central heraldic crest. Exemplifying the Pugins’ inclination towards including aphorisms and quotations in their work, the lintel of the fireplace caries the cheerful inscription “pile on the logs to make this fire great” in painted Gothic script. The ceiling of the hall is coffered with central plaster rosettes picked out in gold. The east wall has five full-height windows, the central one recessed. The opposing west wall has two further full-height windows to either side of the central fireplace. The north end retains a moulded proscenium arch for a stage which has since been blocked.
* Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Blaker, C, Edward Pugin and Kent: his life and work within the county, (2003), 37-49; 51
Busson, C , Book of Ramsgate107
Newman, J, The Buildings of England. Kent: North-East and East, (2013), 506
'E W Pugin Obituary' in The Builder, (1875), 522-23
Documents and archive photographs held at Granville House
E W Pugin Obituary, Thanet Advertiser, 12 June 1875
East Kent Times, 13 June 1900
Granville Restoration Scheme, The Adscene, 28 March 1986
Kent Coast Times, 12 November 1874
Thanet Advertiser, 27 November 1869
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.
End of official listing