Hotel on a hill with history.

It’s one of the landmark buildings on Lansdown Hill – with a Georgian past and a Grade 11* listing AND currently being sold to a new owner.

I am talking about the Lansdown Grove Hotel whose history has been explored by Bath Newseum regular, Paul Taylor.

The former Lansdown Grove Hotel – known more recently as a Country Living Hotel. It’s currently being sold.

Paul has sent me some of his research which l have set out for you all to have a look at.

Here’s what he had to say:

‘As I understand it, what is now the hotel was certainly in existence by 1770 and buildings on the site even appear on maps dated 1722 when the land was known as Sand Pits.

 

Set in its six acre of grounds, it was enlarged around 1860 to function as a hotel which first opened its doors in 1889.  Opposite, in the grounds a sanitorium was built in 1888 and extended in the early 20th century to create a hospital – now Haygarth Court. In 1913 it was altered and a dining room added, while 1942 saw it close to be used as an American Red Cross Services Club.

  It opened as a hotel again in 1947. Its guests included Lord Mountbatten and Yehudi Menuin – only to be then converted again in 1995 to function as an annexe to the Royal High School.

One previous owner of the house was a Simon Barrow 1788-1862, a Sephardic Jew who married Tryphena Esther Lyon de Symons (probably his 2nd cousin) who was an Ashkenazi Jew as were Simon’s grandparents. She had 8 boys and 5 girls and it is thought she died in childbirth. 

After her death Simon converted to Christianity which aided his rise in Bath society which had a relatively small Jewish community.  Thanks to their father’s efforts, his boys secured the most senior positions in the military.  This was where Simon spent most of his money and used his growing influence. 

At the tender age of 24, he was already Diplomatic Envoy to the Prince Regent and the Austrian Court between 1811-1814 – just before defeat of Napoleon 1815.  He was also a governor of a hospital for Portuguese and Spanish Jews in London.

Like William Beckford – who from 1822 lived nearby at 20, Lansdown Crescent – he inherited both money and the ownership of slaves in Jamaica and Barbados on the death of  his father in 1798. 

In 1834 he was awarded over £2,500 – about £328,000 in today’s money – as compensation for his loss of earnings from the St Ann 447 plantation in Jamaica.

He made other compensation claims, unsuccessfully, for slaves he had in Barbados, from where most of his relatives came, though to his credit he freed many of his slaves much before this date.  In 1837 he became Mayor of Bath.’

Chris also included some photographs showing the original impressive entrance.

‘Whilst we wait for the new owners of Lansdown Grove Hotel (Axcel Hospitality Limited who also operate Henrietta House in Bath) to fling open its doors once again, I took the liberty of removing ivy and other dead wood from this rather splendid pillar on the other side of the road.  

These pillars and the adjoining neat railings stood proud in this Francis Frith photograph
dating from the early 20th century but sadly only the one on the right now remains.

On this neglected patch of land where Lansdown Road meets Lansdown Grove, self- seeded trees have taken over and sadly, the ivy has damaged the masonry. 

This greenery totally obscured the only pillar which remains and a short section of wall which flanked a private grand entrance to the hotel before Lansdown Grove was adopted by the local authority.’

3 Comments

  1. Really interesting – thanks Richard!

    The hotel owner Aubrey Jackman was a larger-than-life character who was prominent in the hotel scene in Bath and (I think) did a stint as a travelling showman. He’s almost certain to be on the net somewhere. His wife, Tessa Jackman, was Chair of the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s.

    Regards
    Stephen

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  2. I’m not sure about the travelling showman – I worked at the LGH for Aubrey Jackman (Major Retd OBE) for many years organised military tattoo around the world. He ran a tight ship – I remember being called (summoned) to his office whilst I was in the middle of running a wedding to be told that a light bulb had gone on the corridor, why hadn’t it been replaced! . Fond memories but hard work – back in the days when you’d get a call from a room to say there was no hot water so you had to get into the boiler room and fire up the boiler then call the guest to advise that they wait half an hour… these days you’d be after a refund!
    He was brought up in a hotel environment as his family also owned The Empire Hotel which is now luxury apartments above Garfunkles by Bath Abbey.
    You should look into him more as he was a real gent with amazing life stories.

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