Prince of Wales Hotel Grasmere, Then and Now.
Working in Grasmere you get used to the usual questions. “Where is the gingerbread shop”, “Where are the toilets”, however over the past year a new question has joined them “What on earth has happened to the Prince of Wales?”.
Built in 1855 and occupying an enviable position with frontage to the Grasmere Lake, Browns Lake Hotel was built as a testimony to the 19th Century tourist industry that Wordsworth did so much to inspire.
The hotel was built by Levi Hodgson who was resposable for building other impressive buildings still standing in Grasmere. Cragside, The Hollins, and Woodland Crag were all built by him and if you look at the church bridge you can see his initials there as he was responsible for widening it in 1832.
Not long after the hotel was built they had a Royal visitor Edward V11, The Prince of Wales , there was great excitment and Moses Bowness the photographer photographed the young prince on his visit in 1857. Edward Brown the owner of the hotel then changed the name to The Prince of Wales Hotel.
The name Prince of Wales remained until fairly recent times when it had a brief change to the Thistle Grasmere, followed by The Waterside Hotel. The Town End area of Grasmere where the hotel is situated was made a conservation area in 1984.
And now we jump to recent times. Having been sold, plans were submitted to improve the hotel.
The original plans, doubled the existing floor space and immediately there were protests. The Waterside Action Group was set up and even Rolf Harris and Sir Melvyn Bragg got involved. Lakes Parish Council, The Victorian Society, Friends of The Lake District and Grasmere Village Society put forward their arguments against the plans, saying it would dominate Grasmere Lake in an overbearing manner.
Eventually after three attempts the plans were passed on the premise that “All the bulk of the original building will be left intact”.
Apart from knocking through the hotel and leaving this fine Victorian building to the elements work seemed to have stopped. What a couple of years ago looked like being a beautiful 5 star hotel according to the plans has been left to rot.
Recent events have seen the death of one of the owners and I am afraid that Tony Ball hit the nail on the head right at the beginning when he said “This has all the makings of a Trojan Horse”.
Now we have an eyesore as the entrance to our beautiful village as the first thing people see. Situated directly opposite Dove Cottage and the hoardings dominating the landscape. It used to be the main stop for coaches travelling through to Scotland to spend the night. We always knew at about 5pm there would be a sudden flurry of customers who had just checked into “The Prince” and usually remained open until late to serve them. Reekies weavers used to visit the hotel with their wares to sell in the evening. It has taken the buzz away and has impacted on many of the businesses. Will we ever get the coaches back? who knows. We used to always blame any mischief in the village on “the staff from the Prince” and I would give anything to have them back.
Let’s hope that some day this symbol of early tourism in the Lake District is transformed back to her former glory and a new chapter begins for The Prince of Wales, Grasmere.
Update 9th April 2011
Well work has started and to keep everyone up to date here are a few recent photos.
I do have a habit of calling the hotel the Prince of Wales, but believe the name The Waterside Hotel is what will be retained.
As you can see things are actually moving, but there is still a long way to go.
I will keep posting photos as the work progresses, let’s hope we are soon seeing a big improvement.
Watch this space….
Update 2nd August 2011
Good news. Real progress is finally being made. First the tatty hoarding round the development was spruced up with a coat of paint so that it wasn’t such an eyesore and work now seems to be progressing quickly.
You can see the shape of the old hotel appearing at the front elevation.
Apparently the opening date is being kept a secret.
Good News! 26/07/2012 The Hotel is now open under the new name of The Daffodil. See new blog post. The Daffodil Hotel Grasmere A new Beginning.