Andrew Brownsword, owner of the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter has spoken about his ‘great sadness’ at witnessing the property fall victim to a devastating fire that broke out in the early hours of Friday morning, but says that they have every intention to rebuild the property.
Brownsword, who bought the 53-bed hotel in 2003 for £4.5m, said that the Royal Clarence had ‘long been a special place for all’ and looking at the building now was ‘heart-breaking’.
However Brownsword has promised that the group will rebuild the hotel with enormous sympathy to its importance and heritage, and make it a building that the city of Exeter will be proud of once again.
A fire started at 5am on October 28 an art gallery next door to the hotel and quickly spread to what is thought to be the oldest hotel in England, dating back to 1769. All guests and staff were evacuated and as the fire took hold, 20 fire engines were on site trying to extinguish the flames.
According to the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, the blaze was able to spread quickly through the Grade-II timber frame building via many concealed voids and passageways. Today, the facade of the building has partially collapsed and its interior walls have been reduced to rubble.
Andrew Brownsword CBE DL commented today: “My family and I have witnessed the events that unfolded since Friday with great sadness. The Royal Clarence Hotel has long been a special place for us all, and to see the building now is heart-breaking. Alongside many of Exeter’s residents and visitors, we share a huge sense of loss of such an iconic building, and remember fondly our memories of happy times there.
“Amidst the tragedy, I have been reminded of the commitment, professionalism and dedication of so many people, and I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support. Hotel general manager John Badley and his team not only fulfilled the most important function they could have done by ensuring all guests and staff were evacuated safely, but have since continued to offer help and support to all guests in a positive and extraordinarily professional manner.
“Looking to the future of The Royal Clarence, we have every intention to rebuild the hotel with enormous sympathy to its importance and heritage, and to make it once again a building that the city of Exeter will be proud of. We have always said we believe we are merely custodians of the buildings our hotels operate within, and we pledge to do our very best to return The Royal Clarence to the city of Exeter and its people.”