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Royal Hotel, Weston
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 19/06/2020 - 14:05

The Royal Hotel was mentioned in the recent comments about South Parade but perhaps it needs a query of its own.  Who financed its building? who owned it? who ran it? and when?

The Somerset Heritage Centre has some documents DD/WY/14/85 referring to 

Memoranda, minutes of evidence in the matter of the reference between Messrs Cox and Parsley; includes draft of lease for twenty-one years by William Cox of Brockley and Richard Parsley of Weston-super-Mare to James Needham, of the Hotel, Weston-super-Mare. 

The Bristol Mirror of June 9th 1810, in an article about the Weston-super-Mare Inclosure states: 

Second Attendance Meeting, for putting the said Acts into execution, on MONDAY, the 25th day JUNE next, at the dwelling-house of James Needham, known by the name of the Hotel, situate Weston-super-Mare.

Meetings continued to be held there throughout 1810

Several Bristol Newspapers of 1810 

SEA BATHING. WESTON-SUPER-MARE, SOMERSETSHIRE  20 miles from Bristol,  30 ditto from Bath.  JAMES NEEDHAM respectfully informs the Public, that he has fitted up the HOTEL with every convenience for the accommodation of large and small parties and families. A select Boarding Table - Neat Post Chaises. good Stabling, and lock-up Coach-houses. For bathing, and the salubrity of the air, Weston has received the decisive sanction of the first Medical Characters in Bath and Bristol.

When the Hotel closed (through lack of trade) in 1811 the contents were auctioned off  - James Needham was obviously greatly in debt!

From the Bristol Mirror 27 April 1811

What was a four-motion Beer-Machine?  


It wasn't until 1818 that Richard FRY from Clifton took over the Hotel. See Bristol Mirror 25th April 1818.   What had happened there since 1811?  There are advertisements which suggest it was still open as a venue for Auctions and as a staging Post for carriages from Bristol

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Comments ..

Submitted by gricharduk on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 6:27

I think this might be the same James Needham - it's a very interesting article with patent diagrams:

The 1811 Needham And Rawlins Patent Brewing Machine

As Honey Langcaster-James mentioned in her post - A John Sawtell ran/owned the hotel from at least 1811 (see p2 - Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 25 July 1811) and he died in October 1817. Then from Honey's post onwards, becoming Fry's Hotel, then Reeve's Hotel, etc.


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Submitted by gricharduk on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 8:28

Francis Knight, Sea-Board of Mendip, pages 53 & 56, contain some hints that the earliest the hotel could have been built is after 1808. 1808 is when Parsley and Cox first buy land from the Piggot's (who owned half of North Somerset at the time!). So, Needham probably is the first tenant:

Sea-Board of Mendip - Weston-super-Mare

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 24/06/2020 - 22:44

Great to have a page dedicated to The Royal Hotel! Such a significant local building. And yes, I found an advert showing that it was a Mr John SAWTELL who ran the hotel for a number of years prior to Richard FRY (my ancestor).

I have found several history books and secondary sources that claim that COX and PARSLEY partnered with James CAPELL and Richard FRY in the original purchase, or financing of the build of the hotel. However, I have not been able to find a primary source to confirm this, so I'm not sure whether it was just Parsley and Cox, or all four of them. I suspect Cox and Parsley bought the old farmhouse and the land, and then, if they were involved at all, Capell and Fry probably contributed to the planning and financing of the new building, and as a result, probably had some sort of share in it. However, I have yet to find a specific historical document to confirm this. It seems strange that so many historical accounts and even Heritage England's own history of the building would claim that all four men were involved if no historic records exit to confirm that? 

I also recently found an interesting reference to a period when there appears to have been some legal dispute between REEVE, (the owner after Richard FRY), and a Mr George WOOKEY. I haven't figured out yet exactly what happened there, but it seems that WOOKEY occupied or ran the hotel for a time, then REEVE was re-established as the rightful owner and WOOKEY then went across to South Parade to manage and run The Bath Hotel which I believe Richard FRY had built. 

I've put a page up on my personal family history blog which details and outlines everything that I've been able to gather and find out so far about The Royal Hotel, its owners and its history, and I've added several news clippings if interested. You can find that page on the link below :)

That's fascinating re the beer machine!! I did read somewhere that they had quite an issue with supplies of beer in the early day, and that probably didn't help drum up popularity for the establishment!!


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Submitted by gricharduk on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 13:37

So this confuses things a bit further (but its still an interesting article)

Page 2, Weston Mercury - Saturday 06 May 1882

These are memories of an old resident of Weston before it is developed. He states that the first tenant of the hotel is Charles Taylor and that the foundation stone was laid in 1807. However ...

1) He was a child at the time the hotel was built 2) He then states Peter Fry took over from Needham which is not correct (or perhaps it is?) 3) The foundation stone might have been laid in 1807 but this is before Cox and Parsely buy the land from Piggott.

Abstract of title of William Cox of Brockley, Esq., and Richard Parsely

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Submitted by gricharduk on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 14:05

Based, on that same article, there is a lot more here that I think you will find very interesting: Tales of Old Weston

See the section called "1810-2010: 200 Years of Tourism in Weston-super-Mare" on that page.

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Submitted by gricharduk on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 14:19

I won't allow me to edit my previous comment so ...

  1.  Foundation stone laid by Captain Parsley's son in 1807
  2. Charles Taylor of Milton built the house/hotel and was the first tenant
  3. It explains Reeve's difficulty in gaining possession

Ernest E Baker's book "The Village of Weston-super-Mare Historical Notes" published in 1883 - I was wondering if this society had a copy? Or even, if the South West Heritage Trust had a copy?

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 15:34

The plot certainly thickens! Very interesting find! I did find a reference in another history book that the Hotel had been built by Charles Taylor of Milton, I didn't know that he served beer there as this old Westonian recalls. That does suggest that he may have been the original tenant. I do suspect this gentleman was either mistaken in naming Peter FRY instead of Richard FRY, or it was a mistake by the reporter, because I have quite a lot of documentary evidence that it was Richard FRY who ran the Hotel for around 10 years, and also then The Bath Hotel, later the Imperial that he mentions. I don't know whether there were two names though (perhaps a middle name). I'll see if I can find out anything further about a Peter Fry. I do think the foundation stone was laid in 1808 too, but it sounds like he recalls the event well, even if he's perhaps mistaken about the year. Definitely intriguing stuff!

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 15:38

Thanks for this! What an interesting website and I hadn't seen this one before. That's interesting about Mrs Sawtell. If she was still there when REEVE took over, then does that suggest she lived there all the time while FRY was managing the Hotel? 

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Submitted by Pat Hase on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 10:56

I have a copy of that book - it wasn't published until 1929 although the interviews with the old inhabitants took place during 1882 and 1883.  It contains some fascinating information about life in Weston, not only the interviews but the results of many years of research by Ernest BAKER. 

It includes details of the implementation of the Enclosure Act when a James STAPLES was appointed Commissioner to see that the act was carried through. In June 1810, he started his investigations and each day he and others involved - probably including Samuel BAKER, (great grandfather of Ernest BAKER), who was clerk to the proceedings - "adjourned to the Weston Hotel, then kept by Mr James NEEDHAM, and enjoyed great dinners"   The Bills for June 22nd and June 23rd are included which amount to £29. 10s. 4d.  The bills include the cost of beds and breakfast for 2 people and hay for the horses overnight.

When they started auctioning the land designated by the Enclosure Act this advertisement appeared.

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Submitted by Honey Langcaster-James on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 21:14

Hi Pat, I'd love to get hold of a copy of that book or read a copy of it at some point. Is it a long book? Or is it possible to photocopy it or anything for research purposes? 


Also, I can't see an image above from the advertisement you mention? 

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