Axminster’s historic George Hotel to reopen

PUBLISHED: 11:14 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 10:26 29 November 2018

Work is under way to restore Axminster's historic George Hotel. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Work is under way to restore Axminster's historic George Hotel. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

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The new owners are spending £550,000 restoring the former coaching inn to its former glory

The Boxing Day Meet was once a regular event at Axminster's George Hotel. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe Boxing Day Meet was once a regular event at Axminster's George Hotel. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Axminster’s historic George Hotel – England’s first coaching posthouse - is set to reopen.

The 18th century hostelry, closed for more than a decade, has been bought by South Coast Inns which is spending £550,000 restoring it to its former glory.

The company plans to open a bar and restaurant on the ground floor early in the New Year and make the hotel’s 17 bedrooms available from April.

Owners Christopher and Delia Chapman say they aim to recreate the hotel’s rich historical past, reflecting the many important people who stayed there.

The George Hotel in 1946 when a high wall surrounded its car park. Picture CONTRIBUTEDThe George Hotel in 1946 when a high wall surrounded its car park. Picture CONTRIBUTED

In Georgian times Lord Nelson slept at the hotel and King George III wined and dined there before visiting the house of Thomas Whitty, founder of the now world-famous Axminster carpets.

Over the years important decisions to shape the future of Axminster - and even the nation - have been made at the George Hotel.

The splendid Adam room, with it unique minstrel’s gallery, was used by Army commanders planning D-Day tactics.

And even before The George was built, in 1760, an inn has stood on the town centre site.

Work is under way to restore Axminster's historic George Hotel. Picture: CHRIS CARSONWork is under way to restore Axminster's historic George Hotel. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

It is said that in pre-Georgian times the Earl of Monmouth and his supporters stopped there, Judge Jefferies spent a few nights there and Oliver Cromwell had his troops and his headquarters at the old George.

In its heyday, as a post house on the route between Exeter and London, more than 16 coaches a day would stop at The George for refreshments and to change horses.

The George’s new eatery, opening in January, will feature a menu designed by one of the country’s most experienced restaurant operators – husband and wife team Alan and Mo Berry.

It will offer a full daily menu, using locally sourced ingredients, they say.

The Boxing Day Meet was once a regular event at Axminster's George Hotel. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe Boxing Day Meet was once a regular event at Axminster's George Hotel. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Axminster Mayor Jeremy Walden told The Midweek Herald: “This is an exciting time for Axminster, and I know everyone welcomes the massive investment by South Coast Inns in The George, that has been, for many years, an eyesore promises, to be once again a social centre for the town and an integral part of its development.

“It will offer, I am sure, excellent hospitality and good food, along with much needed employment in the UK’s largest industry. Good luck for the future.”

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