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Dorset Hotels - The Avonmouth Hotel

The Avonmouth Hotel was previously known as Mudeford House. It probably owes its existence to the popularity of sea bathing which made Mudeford a fashionable resort during the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was built as an elegant seaside residence during the Regency Period. We do not know who built the house but at some time between 1818 and 1830 the building was occupied by Sir George Shee, Baronet. Lady Shee was a great character who was responsible for laying out the grounds in straight walks and ponds. Sometime later the house become the home of Colonel de la Tour, who was a 'French Royalist'. Lady Waterford's memoir recalls Mrs de la Tour 'driving through Mudeford in a yellow coach and four'. The house was sold in 1844 to a Mr Betteley. It was then occupied by a Mr Moses before being purchased by Colonel Maberley in 1871. Shortly after buying the property Col. Maberley changed the name from Mudeford House to the Avonmouth.

The property was described as 'a commodious family abode containing every accommodation for a family of distinction. Comprising an excellent suite of reception rooms consisting of drawing room, dining room, morning room and library, the whole of which opened onto an elegantly designed covered balcony' (the balcony/conservatory was demolished in 1960). It had 16 bedrooms and dressing rooms with a coach house and stabling for 7 horses with saddle rooms, men's rooms and a gardener's cottage.

Whilst living at Avonmouth Col. Maberly was posted to India with the Royal Horse Artillery. General Maberly died suddenly on 16th November 1899 aged 84. At some time between 1900 and 1915 the property was sold. From 1915 to approximately 1924, Mrs Downes-Martin occupied the Avonmouth. Her husband Captain Downes-Martin owned a boat building business in Christchurch.

In 1926 Rear Admiral Reeves was living at the Avonmouth. He continued living there until the mid nineteen thirties, when the building was converted into a private hotel by Mrs Lack. By the beginning of the Second World War, Trust Houses Ltd had taken over the Avonmouth and it had become part of that Hotel chain. For the next sixty five years it has been passed from one hotel chain to another during which time a lot of original features of the building have been covered up or removed and the general condition of the buildings has been allowed to deteriate.

A few years ago, the Hotel was purchased by three local businessmen who have refurbished the ground floor, built a new bedroom wing adding 47 new luxury rooms and added a deluxe Spa and indoor swimming pool to the hotel. They restored the original features like the conservatory and brought the dilapidated building back to life. The grounds were landscaped with a terrace and a new modern restaurant run by Michelin Starred Chef Alex Aitken.

Such is the commitment to recreating the regency style of the building the owners removed all the modern upvc windows and replace them with ones more suited to a building of the early nineteenth century. The Hotel has been a feature of Mudeford landscape for nearly two hundred years, the investment outlay has assured the long term future of the hotel, but also the elegance of those buildings that made Mudeford such a fashionable resort in the past has been recaptured.

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