Save The Three Cups Hotel

The Three Cups Hotel

Campaigning for preservation of the hotel where J.R.R. Tolkien stayed and gained inspiration for his mythology. Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, Tennyson and H.W. Longfellow were also guests. The hotel featured in the film, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”. Please send articles to me, Andrew Townsend, at or add a comment. Thanks to David Moss for all his work. Comments are closed at WDDC for the plans to redevelop the site but you can still write to the papers.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Save The Three Cups Hotel

J.R.R. Tolkien stayed at the Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis several times during his holidays. He may have done some of his myth making and writing while he was there. The hotel also has connections with John Fowles' French Lieutenant's Woman and Jane Austen.

In view of the fascinating history of this building, you may surprised to know that it has been standing empty for 14 years and its future is far from certain. The structure is "Listed" which means that it would be illegal to demolish it, and a change of use would require planning permission. However, there are several areas of concern.
1) The building will deteriorate while not in use and is in danger of vandalism .
2) The owners seem to be delaying its return to use because of pending coastal defence works.
3) The owners may seek a change of use which would deny access to the general public.
4) In its current state the public cannot enjoy visiting a site of great historical and cultural interest.

I would really like to see the Three Cups retuned to its traditional use as a hotel so that anyone could visit it and take in the atmosphere and history of the place. However, it's not a simple conservation issue. What can be done?

The Civic Trust is represented locally by the Lyme Regis Society and it is one of their concerns to see the Three Cups open to the public again. They would very much appreciate and benefit from any messages of support which are sent to this site.

So, please post your views on the need to conserve this building. You could also help by sending ideas for alternative uses of the building and how to run a hotel with high local staff costs and no en suite rooms. There is a useful car park at the rear but should it be used by the public while the hotel is empty or by contractors working on the sea defences.

I'd like to thank Greg Wright, Bob Speers, Sarah Thompson, Hugh Dunford-Wood, Quentin Pickard, Matthew Slocombe (SPAB), Bernard Spencer and Mary Bohane (LRS) for their encouragement in all this.

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Friday, October 08, 2004

“Tolkien Hotel is Worldwide News” by Sarah Thompson

Bridport & Lyme Regis News, Friday 8th October 2004

The derelict state of the Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis has become international news thanks to an American website devoted to Hollywood films. A message about the historic town centre hotel, which has stood empty for 14 years, is the email of the month on - a popular US website that reviews movies and explores the deeper meanings behind contemporary pop culture. The email is from Andrew Townsend, a civil engineer from Manchester and member of the Tolkien Society who visited Lyme Regis recently. It registers his disgust at the abandonment of the building, and talks about the fact that JRR Tolkien (who wrote the Lord of the Rings – now a blockbuster movie trilogy) stayed at the Three Cups on a number of occasions. (Tolkien even painted a picture, dated 1906, entitled Lyme Regis Harbour from the Drawing Room Window of the Cups Hotel).

In his email Mr Townsend says: “There are several areas of concern to Tolkien fans. The building will deteriorate while not in use and is in danger of vandalism, the owner may seek a change of use which would deny access to the general public and in its current state the public cannot enjoy visiting a site of great historical and cultural interest.

(Notwithstanding all that, for the people of Lyme Regis the building looks very sad in its current state and detracts from the beauty of the town, rather like one of the empty houses in the winding streets of Minas Tirith.)”

Mr Townsend said research had shown that it was likely Tolkien had used the countryside near Lyme for inspiration when writing about the Shire- where the hobbits live – in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He said that the author Humphrey Carpenter suggests in his biography of Tolkien that the Dorset countryside provided at least some of the landscape for middle-earth, where much of the trilogy is set. Editor of HollwoodJesus, Greg Wright, who is a leading author and reference on Tolkien, said the Three Cups was important to lovers of Tolkien because it enabled people to further understand Tolkien’s own imagination. He said Mr Townsend’s message had been highlighted because it dealt with an issue Tolkien himself would have cared about - that of caring properly for our links with the past.

Mr Townsend said he had contacted the Tolkien Society, who would be discussing the Three Cups at their next committee meeting and urged anyone concerned about the future of the hotel to write to the district council’s listed buildings officer.

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