History of the Royal Clarence hotel published

28 April 2017 by
History of the Royal Clarence hotel published

A history of Exeter's 250-year old Royal Clarence hotel, destroyed in a devastating fire six months ago, has been published.

Darren Marsh has spent three years researching the history of the hotel for the 166-page book Exeter's Royal Clarence Hotel. Now an author and photographer, Marsh himself spent time working in hotels as a porter and housekeeper at the Woodbury Park hotel in Devon and Swinton Park in North Yorkshire in the early 2000s.

Rebuilding of the hotel is about to start following the appointment of architectural practice Buttress to take the restoration forward.

Marsh, who has previously published Exeter Through Time and is a former trustee of the Devon and Exeter Institution, explores the social, architectural and economic history of the hotel and its place within the city and hospitality industry.

Using documents, artefacts, and photographs from private and public collections, the book tells the story of the hotel from its early use as the dwelling of Georgian clergymen, to its transformation into the four-AA-star Abode Exeter after Andrew Brownsword bought the 53-bedroom hotel in 2003 for £4.5m.

The cover shot of the Royal Clarence at night was taken by photographer Christian Schoter just days before the fire in October 2016, and the book features what is suspected to be some of the last professional photography of the hotel.

The book can be purchased for £25 from Exeter Cathedral shop, local libraries, WHSmith and Waterstones stores in the city, Exeter tourist information offices and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

Marsh said the fire was "a huge tragedy for the hotel, the industry and Exeter itself. It's been like losing a friend almost, everyone's got a story about the hotel. It's a major part of Exeter's life, it always has been. It's going to be hard to replace. It would be lovely and wonderful if they could replicate it."

Photo credit: Darren Marsh

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