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Latitude: 51.0163 / 51°0'58"N
Longitude: -4.201 / 4°12'3"W
OS Eastings: 245713
OS Northings: 126405
OS Grid: SS457264
Mapcode National: GBR KJ.JCKY
Mapcode Global: FRA 262F.K5Q
Entry Name: The Royal Hotel
Listing Date: 8 November 1949
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1200870
English Heritage Legacy ID: 375726
Location: Bideford, Torridge, Devon, EX39
Civil Parish: Bideford
Built-Up Area: Bideford
Traditional County: Devon
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon
Church of England Parish: Bideford St Mary
Church of England Diocese: Exeter
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
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
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
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
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-:
Listing NGR: SS4571326405
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