The history of The Norfolk Hotel is a fascinating story.
In 1870, two large villas on Richmond Hill in Bournemouth, built by the town’s founders Sir George Ivison Tapps and his son Sir George William Tapps-Gervis, were amalgamated to make Stewarts Hotel.
During the 19th century the Stewarts Hotel was a firm favourite with Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847 – 1917), the 15th Duke of Norfolk and became first choice for the Duke & Duchesses’ Summer retreat.
No one really knows why the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk chose the Stewarts Hotel above other Bournemouth hotels, but the most plausible explanation is the hotel’s location – opposite the Roman Catholic, Sacred Heart Church.
Henry Fitzalan-Howard was a major supporter of the Catholic Church in the years following Catholic Emancipation, and founded the Catholic cathedrals at Arundel and Norwich. He was also a significant contributor to funds for the building of Westminster Cathedral.
The only record of the Duke & Duchesses visits appears in the 1883 Bournemouth Guardian And Visitors Guide under the heading of “Fashionable Visitors” where the publication announced that, “The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk are staying at Stewarts Hotel”.
In honour of its regular VIP guests and in tribute to the major role that The Dukes of Norfolk have played in English life over the years, the Stewarts Hotel changed its name to The Norfolk Royale Hotel in 1910.
It’s not only the Hotel itself that takes its name from the Duke of Norfolk. The hotels conference and event suites the Arundel suite, Beaumont Suite, Maltravers Suite and Surrey Suite, are also named after titles inherited by various Dukes of Norfolk through out history.
In 1139 an ancestor became the first Earl of Arundel. Gradually individuals were given further titles – in 1309 Baron Beaumont, 1330 Baron Maltravers and 1483 the Earl of Surrey. The present Duke of Norfolk has inherited these titles.
The remaining conference facilities, The Alum, Durley, Branksome and Studland, take their names from Bournemouth chines (the word chine is used in Dorset, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for wooded paths down to the sea) and beaches.
In 1974, the Norfolk Hotel qualified for listed building status in 1974, including the art nouveau veranda, which was added to the front of The Norfolk Hotel in 1903.
The Norfolk Hotel Bournemouth was completely updated in 1988 when an extra block was built along St Stephen’s Road. The 17th Duke of Norfolk, Miles, was at the reopening of the hotel where he unveiled a commemorative blue plaque attached to the building.
In more recent times the Norfolk Hotel has had a multi million pound refurbishment programme. The entire 2nd floor of the hotel was fully refurbished to a luxury 4 star standard where, in total, 38 rooms were transformed into a new high-class category known as ‘Club Rooms’, providing now what is arguably the finest in Bournemouth.
The refurbishment also included 4 specially designed disabled rooms, specifically adapted for people with physical mobility problems, providing some of the best disabled accommodation Bournemouth has to offer.