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.


Blogger Greg & Jenn Wright said…

This is a great effort, Andrew -- and a nice job designing this blog, too. We'd never know you weren't an HTML coder...

I'll post up a link on Hollywood Jesus pronto.

Blogger Robb Swenson said…

I picture Gandalf and Bilbo sitting off to the side in the lobby, in full costume. They are listening patiently as Andrew comments on the 3 cups Hotel. They, of course, know J.R.R.Tolkien and Andrew Townsend, but are not quite sure they should comment. Merry and Pippin are giggling in the background, but there is a serious tone to this gathering...
I think Andrew has made a worthy comment on making an effort to open the facility to the public. To secure an investor or group of interested people to open it up. It seems that the warehouse districts that were cast off, do eventually become rediscovered at a later time. It sounds like there is still some time to act.
Please keep me informed on this exciting issue.

Anonymous Anonymous said…

Being 22 years of age, and moving to Lyme Regis 3 years ago, the sight of the Three Cups is something that saddens me deeply.
I am ecstatic that you are starting to campaign to save the hotel, but without being cynical, can anything be done when Palmers Brewery refuse to budge? In my opinion,they are leaving the hotel empty and derelict because they refuse to spend money, depriving a town and a beautiful building of its full potential.

If they dont want to spend money they should sell it - but it may put other pubs of theirs out of business if it was reinstated to its true purpose.

I will keep looking at the website and supporting any campaigns avaliable. I would prefer for the building to become back in use as a hotel however, in it's present state, any use would be welcomed.

Keep up the work!! Good luck

Anonymous Anonymous said…

I'm an American and Tolkien devotee who recently heard about this issue. I have no idea where Lyme Regis is, but I think it would be a shame to lose a great cultural icon such as the Three Cups Hotel. Tolkien, Austen, and Fowles are world-famous and the history of the hotel shouldn't just be thrown aside. I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

Anonymous Anonymous said…

Today to see such a wonderful artifact in such good condition, just to go to waste will be very saddening indeed...I think, and hope that you will save and preserve this wonderful hotel, that Tolkien stayed in, so some people today can go in and see the old and wonderful views in life. Also, if that doesn't work I hope that someone at least turns this wonderful looking hotel as a museum(a small one)and to have some of the characters like Samwise in his little garden, or Frodo smoking his pipe, or something like that. But I sincerely hope that this hotel does not go straight to do dumps, and keep getting vandalized, but put into good use.
concerned American

Blogger Ben C said…

This matter illustrates a startling short-sightedness on the part of the current owners of the hotel. While sympathy alone may not be sufficient to save the hotel, the depth of feeling towards this building surely is.

If the owners are concerned about cost, have they considered ways to generate money? How many people would like to spend a weekend where his pictures for The Silmarillion " how clearly he visualised the landscapes in which his legends were set, for in several of the drawings the scenery of Lyme itself is absorbed into the stories and invested with mystery" (Carpenter, Humphrey: JRR Tolkien: A Biography. Harper Collins, London p. 166).

If authors are also connected with this hotel, then surely there is an undoubted case to be made for the hotel's restoration.

Save the Three Cups.

Ben Colley

Anonymous Anonymous said…

Come on Palmers, apart from anything else this is bad publicity for you. Think.... this could be a money spinner. Spend to speculate, market the Tolkien and other literary links, you can't go wrong and we Tolkien fans will be eternally grateful.

Anonymous Jo Saxon said…

I love the Three Cups. I remember it as a child. I'm fortunate to be from Lyme and have always thought about why nothing has been done with the hotel. I remember it as a child (i'm 28) and it was outstanding! I didn't know this society existed...i would be so interested in seeing/helping it get back up and running. I've always thought it would make a fantastic YHA but back as a hotel would also be fantastic :-)
I knew that Palmers owned it but didn't know what was happening with it.I'm really over the moon that you have formed this Save the Three Cups...

Anonymous Dave Sampson said…

Hi I have added a Link to your website on My little BOOZER dot Com The online guide to Pubs,Clubs,Inns, Hotels and Restaurants. As someone who went to Lyme Regis Grammar School I remember the 3 Cups when it was still a successful business. I remember attending a school reunion event there in 1969. It would be nice to see it open again. Good Luck
Dave Sampson

Anonymous Sophie said…

Great website!

Just wondered - have English Heritage or the Georgian Group been notified about this issue, if so what have they said? I would imagine the Georgian Group might take it on as case work.

Has it been put up for submission on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register (where the Literary and Scientific Institute in Bridport appears)?

What about the local politicians?

Anonymous Mike Round said…

Having visited Lyme Regis periodically for over twenty years, it has remained a sadness that such a historical building has been allowed to stand empty and unused for so long. Shame on Palmers Brewery for allowing this to occur and well done to those trying to save the building; I wish you every success.

Blogger Andrew Townsend said…

Many thanks, Mark, for your supportive comments. If you would like to help some more, the things you wrote would have even more impact if you were to send them as a letter to The Bridport & Lyme Regis Newspaper( Or you could write to West Dorset District Council (, asking them to explain why they have let the hotel become derelict. They are duty bound to reply.

Anonymous Anonymous said…

It seems to me that the Local authority and hence our elected representatives are somehow beholden to Palmers brewery as there are many ways of resolving this issue without demolition,such as compulsory repair orders or even compulsory purchase. I would suggest the society consider putting a representative to stand in the next local election under a resident banner if our local political representatives are unable to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion. We did this in Surrey when planning issues seemed to be determined by big buisnesses rather than Local opinion, and removed the deputy mayor at our first attempt.The borough of Elmbribge is now run by the resident associations.It is a good time to play the political card and hopefully our representatives will learn from this experience and represent us more actively, and certainly listen to the potential electoral threat.Good luck and I will try to stir up more widespread interest if I can.


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