A fire in the old town of Exeter started early yesterday morning (Friday 28 October 2016) and spread to the Royal Clarence Hotel. The old buildings in the heart of Medieval and Roman Exeter are obviously susceptible to fire and the 120 firefighters had to fight the flames from outside as the interiors are too complex to enter in such circumstances.
The hotel was built in 1769 as the Assembly Rooms and was probably the first residence in Britain to be known as a hotel (they were inns before that). It took on the name of Royal Clarence in 1827 after a visit by Adelaide, Duchess of Clarence, the queen consort of King William IV.
The Royal Clarence had been host to a wide range of famous guests, including Beatrix Potter in 1892 and Thomas Hardy in 1915.
I was lucky enough to stay there last summer – sadly, any return visit will be to a very different building. Whilst there was initially some hope that the exterior might survive, it has now started to collapse (Saturday 29 Oct). The only good news is that no injuroes have been reported and that the fire has not devaststed the entire area. Latest news and photos can be seen here.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 28 October 2016 (updated 29.10.2016)