Restoring Former Glory
The Grosvenor Hotel is an iconic landmark in the centre of Stockbridge, with its distinctive curved port-cochère clearly visible from both ends of the High Street. Built in an age before cars and football, when horse racing was the national sport, it played its part in the transformation of a sleepy small town in Hampshire into a lively and fashionable horse racing venue.
For much of the 19th century the horse racing cognoscenti descended on Stockbridge in the last week of June to do battle on the turf at Danebury racecourse, the Ascot of its day, and to wine and dine in the Grosvenor Hotel. The Bibury Club, based at Danebury, and for whom the club room in the hotel’s port-cochère was built, was the most exclusive horse racing club of its day with select members including some of the most powerful and influential royals, aristocrats, and statesmen of the time. Tom Cannon, Danebury’s most successful trainer and jockey, bought the Grosvenor Hotel in 1877 to house guests attending race meetings, and to display racing memorabilia. Anyone dining in the hotel’s Danebury Room today can admire the beautiful etchings of his winners in the oak panelling. The racecourse closed in 1898 due to a land dispute, causing the Bibury Club to move to Salisbury, temporarily depriving a flourishing town of its livelihood.
This livelihood has certainly been revived since that time thanks to Stockbridge’s enviable location on the River Test, world-renowned for fly fishing and just yards from the hotel. The Bibury club room is now home to the equally exclusive Houghton Club, a secretive fishing club with select invitation only membership. The local area is populated with partridge and pheasant shoots, attracting visitors throughout the year. And what better way to spend time than by wandering the High Street with its eclectic mix of shops and eateries?
The Grosvenor Hotel is now under the management of Lucy Townsend and Simon Henderson who are delighted to have the opportunity of restoring this historic hotel to its former glory. Nothing will remain untouched in an ambitious programme of planned alterations, including the careful restoration of the hotel’s street frontage, ensuring The Grosvenor is once again the beacon of Stockbridge High Street.
In the bedrooms, new crisp white bedlinen is already on the beds, and the rooms are sparkling clean, ready for their full refurbishment under the guidance of Alex Lewis, Lucy’s husband, whose interior design skills have already transformed a neglected corner of the hotel. Accommodation to the rear of the hotel is to become luxury rooms complete with private outdoor space and a view over the gardens, soon to be undergoing their own metamorphosis under the expert eye of local interior and garden designer Lottie Keith.
The adjoining listed Fairway’s Cottage will be entirely restored providing separate accommodation ideal for a bride and her entourage before, and the happy couple after a wedding, or a comfortable space for sporting groups and family parties to enjoy time together.
Guests with dogs and children can rest assured that their every need will be met, dog bowls and comfy beds await any four-legged friends visiting the hotel with their owners, and the bar is well stocked with canine friendly treats. Dogs and their owners can delight in the numerous scenic walks in the area, on Stockbridge Down, at Danebury, or on Stockbridge marshes, right on the doorstep.
A crucial phase of restoration will include the reconfiguration of the bar area, Hatch and Market rooms, including the installation of a baby grand piano, live entertainment will soon be on the menu! Lord Grosvenor added the market room to the hotel in 1835 for the sheep fairs held in the grounds of the hotel at the time, it was subsequently used as a venue for many a social gathering and will continue to serve as such for a long time to come. Any occasion can be catered for whether it be a wedding, a private party, a shooting or fishing party, no event is ever too big or too small.
Some restaurant goers will have already had the opportunity to sample the delicious modern British menu created by new chef Neil Cooper, happily the restaurant will remain open to customers for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea throughout the renovations which, once complete, will ensure that the Grosvenor Hotel is firmly back on the map.
Tel: 01264 810606
Grosvenor Hotel, High St, Stockbridge SO20 6EU