The London Hotel in Ivybridge

The London Hotel

The London Hotel in Ivybridge

The London Hotel

For around 200 years from the mid-17th century, the principle mode of transport for the long-distance traveller was the stage coach or mail coach. Having to make frequent stops, a comprehensive network of coaching inns was established to support the coaches and passengers. These inns provided stabling and often fresh teams of horses to replace tired ones. Trained hostlers of “ostlers” were employed to tend to the horses and were able to change teams rapidly, enabling the Royal Mail to adhere to its demanding delivery schedules. The inns also catered for passengers with refreshments and overnight accommodation. The domestic services at the inns were overseen by a housekeeper, quite often the wife of the owner. Over time, the inns improved with the emergence of dining rooms or “coffee rooms” as they were called, making for a more pleasurable stay. The term hotel (taken from french) was rare in England before 1800. The earliest reference to hotel can be traced to an advertisement in 1770 for The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. This hotel reached the national news headlines in 2016 following a devastating fire.

A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge

With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and became the owner of Stowford Estate. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt.

 

In 1800 the inn was described as “an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge”, whilst in 1830 The Western Times carried an advertisement which read

” London Inn, Ivybridge – having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses “

With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and became the owner of Stowford Estate. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt.

A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge

In 1800 the inn was described as “an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge”, whilst in 1830 The Western Times carried an advertisement which read

” London Inn, Ivybridge – having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses “

QRM

'QUICKSILVER'

The Devonport to London

Royal Mail coach

This coach, bearing the striking Royal Mail red and black livery, became known as the fastest coach in the country as it travelled its regular route from London to Falmouth in Cornwall.

 

It was also famous for a rather unusual occurrence on 20th October 1816. While on its way to London on said evening, it drew into the Pheasant Inn on Salisbury Plain. There, quite unexpectedly the leading horses were attacked by a lioness which had escaped from a travelling menagerie. The extraordinary incident became the subject of a painting by artist James Pollard.

A pleasant evening was passed …

A true account of an incident at the London Hotel in 1830.
In the village of Ivybridge, Devonshire, on the main road from Devonport to London, close to that little trout stream, the Erme, stood Henry River’s small snug hotel, which those of you who have travelled by the Quicksilver Mail will no doubt remember. One day a gentlemanly man dressed in one of those long coats which button down almost to the feet, and which were fashionable at that time, called at this hotel and engaged a room for the night. After a capital dinner and mine host’s best wine, he sent the waiter to ask the landlord if he would join him in a cigar and a glass of grog. So a pleasant evening was passed and the two parted at bedtime well pleased with each other’s company. The traveller gave orders to be called early next morning. Punctual to his orders the boots called him, but great was his consternation when he recalled and informed by the gentleman that his breeches had been stolen during the night. Here was an embarrassing situation for an inmate of a respectable hotel to be placed in. But Mr Rivers speedily came to the rescue. In fact, the credit of his house demanded it, and a pair of the landlord’s best breeches were placed at the stranger’s service. So far all was satisfactory but Mr River’s troubles were not over and when the travelling gentleman informed him that there was a five pound note in the breeches pocket he had no other course but to replace the one lost.
And so, the man departed in peace, or rather in Mr River’s breeches with the £5 note safely in his pocket. Mr River’s again and again expressing his regret at the unfortunate occurrence. Of course, he at once set out to discover the daring thief. He never found him, but he learned that the stranger had sold his own breeches in Ashburton the day before arriving and that the reason he could not find his own that morning was because he had got none on when he arrived at the hotel, his long coat so hiding.
LH

In 1844, Pigot’s Directory stated that there were 4 inns located in Ivybridge, the Grocer’s Arms (Exeter Road), The Ivybridge Hotel (Western Road), the King’s Arms (Fore Street) and the London Hotel.

This was soon to be increased to five with the establishment of the Bridge Inn (Exeter Road).

A pleasant evening was passed …

A true account of an incident at the London Hotel in 1830.
In the village of Ivybridge, Devonshire, on the main road from Devonport to London, close to that little trout stream, the Erme, stood Henry River’s small snug hotel, which those of you who have travelled by the Quicksilver Mail will no doubt remember. One day a gentlemanly man dressed in one of those long coats which button down almost to the feet, and which were fashionable at that time, called at this hotel and engaged a room for the night. After a capital dinner and mine host’s best wine, he sent the waiter to ask the landlord if he would join him in a cigar and a glass of grog. So a pleasant evening was passed and the two parted at bedtime well pleased with each other’s company. The traveller gave orders to be called early next morning. Punctual to his orders the boots called him, but great was his consternation when he recalled and informed by the gentleman that his breeches had been stolen during the night. Here was an embarrassing situation for an inmate of a respectable hotel to be placed in. But Mr Rivers speedily came to the rescue. In fact, the credit of his house demanded it, and a pair of the landlord’s best breeches were placed at the stranger’s service. So far all was satisfactory but Mr River’s troubles were not over and when the travelling gentleman informed him that there was a five pound note in the breeches pocket he had no other course but to replace the one lost.
And so, the man departed in peace, or rather in Mr River’s breeches with the £5 note safely in his pocket. Mr River’s again and again expressing his regret at the unfortunate occurrence. Of course, he at once set out to discover the daring thief. He never found him, but he learned that the stranger had sold his own breeches in Ashburton the day before arriving and that the reason he could not find his own that morning was because he had got none on when he arrived at the hotel, his long coat so hiding.
QRM

'QUICKSILVER'

The Devonport to London Royal Mail coach

This coach, bearing the striking Royal Mail red and black livery, became known as the fastest coach in the country as it travelled its regular route from London to Falmouth in Cornwall.
It was also famous for a rather unusual occurrence on 20th October 1816. While on its way to London on said evening, it drew into the Pheasant Inn on Salisbury Plain. There, quite unexpectedly the leading horses were attacked by a lioness which had escaped from a travelling menagerie. The extraordinary incident became the subject of a painting by artist James Pollard.

In 1844, Pigot’s Directory stated that there were 4 inns located in Ivybridge, the Grocer’s Arms (Exeter Road), The Ivybridge Hotel (Western Road), the King’s Arms (Fore Street) and the London Hotel.

This was soon to be increased to five with the establishment of the Bridge Inn (Exeter Road).

MAIL COACHES

These were originally designed for a driver who was seated outside and up to four passengers travelling inside. The guard, an employee of the Post Office meanwhile travelled on the outside at the rear next to the mail box. Later, the number of passengers increased with provision made for travellers to be seated outside next to the driver. These coaches were more expensive than private stage coaches but were faster and generally less crowded and cleaner. Travel on the mail coach was almost always at night, a time when the roads were less busy permitting the coach to make better speed.
Stops to collect mail were short. The Plymouth to Exeter coach took around 3½ hours whilst the whole journey to London took around 22 hours. There were change-over points for fresh horses located at Chudleigh, Ashburton and Ivybridge.

The Duke of Wellington visits Plymouth

In 1846 there was a well-documented visit to Plymouth by the Duke of Wellington. Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he was due to inspect the defences. The Duke was able to make use of the “iron road” for the majority of his journey, leaving London from Paddington and not Waterloo! However, the railway line at that time only extended as far south as Teignmouth, so from there he had to travel the rest of the journey by horse-drawn coach. At Ivybridge the coach stopped to change horses as was the norm but none were available. It seems likely that this happened at the London Hotel. As word travelled, Wellington not wishing to draw attention to himself, slipped away and continued his journey to Plymouth on foot, knowing his carriage would catch him up once new horses were obtained. Before long the regular “Tally Ho”, Exeter to Devonport coach pulled up alongside, the guard asked whether the Duke would do him the honour of taking a seat on his coach. The Duke, now well into his 70s, graciously declined the offer deciding to continue with his walk. He was eventually met by his carriage and taken to Plymouth before making his inspection at the Citadel the following day.

 

Whilst there are no memorials commemorating the visit, there are several reminders in and around Plymouth, Devonport and Torpoint, with street names of Wellington and indeed Waterloo.

Rogers Arms
The Ivybridge Hotel, formerly the Rogers Arms (now Grosvenor Court on Western Road) was the first post office in Ivybridge with four coaches calling each day. It was an important inn on the Plymouth to London road.

MAIL COACHES

These were originally designed for a driver who was seated outside and up to four passengers travelling inside. The guard, an employee of the Post Office meanwhile travelled on the outside at the rear next to the mail box. Later, the number of passengers increased with provision made for travellers to be seated outside next to the driver. These coaches were more expensive than private stage coaches but were faster and generally less crowded and cleaner. Travel on the mail coach was almost always at night, a time when the roads were less busy permitting the coach to make better speed.
Stops to collect mail were short. The Plymouth to Exeter coach took around 3½ hours whilst the whole journey to London took around 22 hours. There were change-over points for fresh horses located at Chudleigh, Ashburton and Ivybridge.

The Duke of Wellington visits Plymouth

In 1846 there was a well-documented visit to Plymouth by the Duke of Wellington. Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he was due to inspect the defences. The Duke was able to make use of the “iron road” for the majority of his journey, leaving London from Paddington and not Waterloo! However, the railway line at that time only extended as far south as Teignmouth, so from there he had to travel the rest of the journey by horse-drawn coach. At Ivybridge the coach stopped to change horses as was the norm but none were available. It seems likely that this happened at the London Hotel. As word travelled, Wellington not wishing to draw attention to himself, slipped away and continued his journey to Plymouth on foot, knowing his carriage would catch him up once new horses were obtained. Before long the regular “Tally Ho”, Exeter to Devonport coach pulled up alongside, the guard asked whether the Duke would do him the honour of taking a seat on his coach. The Duke, now well into his 70s, graciously declined the offer deciding to continue with his walk. He was eventually met by his carriage and taken to Plymouth before making his inspection at the Citadel the following day.

 

Whilst there are no memorials commemorating the visit, there are several reminders in and around Plymouth, Devonport and Torpoint, with street names of Wellington and indeed Waterloo.

The London Hotel continued to thrive, described as having a large concert room, private gardens and being a favourite resort of visitors and tourists. Between 1861 and 1878 the proprietor was William Mallett. He ran the business with his family and the inn was often referred to as simply Mallett’s Hotel. In 1891 the census records a Frank Edward Bohm as the Hotel Manager who received favourable reviews in publications of the time.

 

When the hotel was sold in the early 20th-century (known then as Millbourn’s London Hotel, after the proprietor Elizabeth Millbourn) it was described as having “coffee and commercial rooms, 5 sitting rooms, 15 bedrooms, spacious hall and assembly rooms and a well-accustomed public bar known as the London Tap”.

 

The London Hotel at the turn of the twentieth-century was the venue for Petty Sessions in the area. Handling lesser legal cases both criminal and civil, they were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. They were normally prominent landowners or gentlemen. Henry John Fice Lee and members of Allen family, owners of the paper mill, served as Justices of the Peace in Ivybridge.

The Dartmoor Hunt meeting outside the London Hotel

In more recent times the London Hotel was a very popular venue for countless social gatherings and will be recalled with fond memories by many within Ivybridge.

The ballroom was the venue for the 1st Ivybridge Scout Gang Shows in the 1940s to 50s and was also used by the Ivybridge Garden & Allotment Association for their Autumn Shows.

Stowford Paper Mill was a regular patron of the hotel. It was the meeting place for the The Dartmoor Hunt as well as the venue for their hunt balls. Ivybridge Young Farmers regularly used the hotel for gatherings and events as did Ivybridge Badminton Club from time to time.

The Dartmoor Hunt meeting outside the London Hotel

In more recent times the London Hotel was a very popular venue for countless social gatherings and will be recalled with fond memories by many within Ivybridge.

The ballroom was the venue for the 1st Ivybridge Scout Gang Shows in the 1940s to 50s and was also used by the Ivybridge Garden & Allotment Association for their Autumn Shows.

Stowford Paper Mill was a regular patron of the hotel. It was the meeting place for the The Dartmoor Hunt as well as the venue for their hunt balls. Ivybridge Young Farmers regularly used the hotel for gatherings and events as did Ivybridge Badminton Club from time to time.

In 1991 the site was sold for re-development, to provide a boost to Ivybridge’s housing stock at that time. The project retained the front façade of the hotel but everything else was completely demolished.

A project to improve the riverside area to the front shortly followed. A scheme, assisted by a European grant, transformed the former hotel car park and overgrown garden area into an attractive open space with new trees, riverside walk with viewing points and picnic area. The old Pelton wheel water turbine, which had been saved from the provender mill (Lee & Son) in Fore Street, was placed on permanent display here.

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This riverside area is also the location for a Dartmoor granite memorial commemorating the American servicemen of the 116th Infantry Regiment. In 2001, a memorial was erected as a tribute to the US forces who stayed in the area. The monument has an American combat helmet carved on the top and is inscribed with the words “Dedicated to all the American Servicemen based in Ivybridge 1943-1944 particularly the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment who made many friends with local residents. Sadly many of these men were to die on, or after, D-Day the 6th June 1944”.

References : Articles from the Ivor Martin archive collection kindly donated by Lesley Martin

THE LONDON HOTEL

For around 200 years from the mid-17th century, the principle mode of transport for the long-distance traveller was the stage coach or mail coach. Having to make frequent stops, a comprehensive network of coaching inns was established to support the coaches and passengers. These inns provided stabling and often fresh teams of horses to replace tired ones. Trained hostlers of “ostlers” were employed to tend to the horses and were able to change teams rapidly, enabling the Royal Mail to adhere to its demanding delivery schedules. The inns also catered for passengers with refreshments and overnight accommodation. The domestic services at the inns were overseen by a housekeeper, quite often the wife of the owner. Over time, the inns improved with the emergence of dining rooms or “coffee rooms” as they were called, making for a more pleasurable stay. The term hotel (taken from french) was rare in England before 1800. The earliest reference to hotel can be traced to an advertisement in 1770 for The Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. This hotel reached the national news headlines in 2016 following a devastating fire.
A painting entitled Ivy Bridge London Inn dating from the 1780s clearly depicts the inn alongside the bridge
With the improvements to the road between Exeter and Plymouth, a new inn called the “London Inn” was established sometime during the 1780s in Ivybridge, located conveniently on the coach road at the bridge. The owner was Henry Rivers, an inn-keeper from Modbury. He was a shrewd businessman and became the owner of Stowford Estate. However, his business activities were curtailed in 1816 when he was declared bankrupt.
In 1800 the inn was described as “an excellent good house … cool and pleasant with a romantic walk on the other side of the river above the bridge”, whilst in 1830 The Western Times carried an advertisement which read

“ London Inn, Ivybridge – having succeeded to the above Inn, W. Rivers avails himself of this opportunity of soliciting the patronage of the Nobility, his Friends, Commercial Gentlemen, and the Public generally. The Premises being replete with every comfort for families, he trusts his endeavours will ensure him success. Good stabling, Lock-up Coach Houses”.
By 1844 Pigot’s Directory stated that there were 4 inns located in Ivybridge, the Grocer’s Arms (Exeter Road), The Ivybridge Hotel (Western Road), the King’s Arms (Fore Street) and the London Hotel. This was soon to be increased to five with the establishment of the Bridge Inn (Exeter Road).

The Duke of Wellington visits Plymouth

In 1846 there was a well-documented visit to Plymouth by the Duke of Wellington. Serving as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces he was due to inspect the defences. The Duke was able to make use of the “iron road” for the majority of his journey, leaving London from Paddington and not Waterloo! However, the railway line at that time only extended as far south as Teignmouth, so from there he had to travel the rest of the journey by horse-drawn coach. At Ivybridge the coach stopped to change horses as was the norm but none were available. It seems likely that this happened at the London Hotel. As word travelled, Wellington not wishing to draw attention to himself, slipped away and continued his journey to Plymouth on foot, knowing his carriage would catch him up once new horses were obtained. Before long the regular “Tally Ho”, Exeter to Devonport coach pulled up alongside, the guard asked whether the Duke would do him the honour of taking a seat on his coach. The Duke, now well into his 70s, graciously declined the offer deciding to continue with his walk. He was eventually met by his carriage and taken to Plymouth before making his inspection at the Citadel the following day.
Whilst there are no memorials commemorating the visit, there are several reminders in and around Plymouth, Devonport and Torpoint, with street names of Wellington and indeed Waterloo.
The London Hotel continued to thrive, described as having a large concert room, private gardens and being a favourite resort of visitors and tourists. Between 1861 and 1878 the proprietor was William Mallett. He ran the business with his family and the inn was often referred to as simply Mallett’s Hotel. In 1891 the census records a Frank Edward Bohm as the Hotel Manager who received favourable reviews in publications of the time.
When the hotel was sold in the early 20th-century (known then as Millbourn’s London Hotel, after the proprietor Elizabeth Millbourn) it was described as having “coffee and commercial rooms, 5 sitting rooms, 15 bedrooms, spacious hall and assembly rooms and a well-accustomed public bar known as the London Tap”. The latter will no doubt be remembered by locals today!
The London Hotel at the turn of the twentieth-century was the venue for Petty Sessions in the area. Handling lesser legal cases both criminal and civil, they were presided over by Justices of the Peace, who were unpaid and often without any formal legal training. They were normally prominent landowners or gentlemen. Henry John Fice Lee and members of Allen family, owners of the paper mill, served as Justices of the Peace in Ivybridge.
In more recent times the London Hotel was a very popular venue for countless social gatherings and will be recalled with fond memories by many within Ivybridge.
The ballroom was the venue for the 1st Ivybridge Scout Gang Shows in the 1940s to 50s and was also used by the Ivybridge Garden & Allotment Association for their Autumn Shows.
Stowford Paper Mill was a regular patron of the hotel. It was the meeting place for the The Dartmoor Hunt as well as the venue for their hunt balls. Ivybridge Young Farmers regularly used the hotel for gatherings and events as did Ivybridge Badminton Club from time to time.
London Hotel front facade and scaffolding
In 1991 the site was sold for re-development, to provide a boost to Ivybridge’s housing stock at that time. The project retained the front façade of the hotel but everything else was completely demolished.
A project to improve the riverside area to the front shortly followed. A scheme, assisted by a European grant, transformed the former hotel car park and overgrown garden area into an attractive open space with new trees, riverside walk with viewing points and picnic area. The old Pelton wheel water turbine, which had been saved from the provender mill (Lee & Son) in Fore Street, was placed on permanent display here.
This riverside area is also the location for a Dartmoor granite memorial commemorating the American servicemen of the 116th Infantry Regiment. In 2001, a memorial was erected as a tribute to the US forces who stayed in the area. The monument has an American combat helmet carved on the top and is inscribed with the words “Dedicated to all the American Servicemen based in Ivybridge 1943-1944 particularly the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment who made many friends with local residents. Sadly many of these men were to die on, or after, D-Day the 6th June 1944”.
References : Articles from the Ivor Martin archive collection kindly donated by Lesley Martin