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.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

From Bernard Spencer, Chairman of the Lyme Regis Society

This empty hotel, standing in the main street of Lyme Regis, has been the subject of news reports recently when it was discovered that Professor Tolkien had visited the hotel several times and painted a picture of the harbour from one of its windows. Visitor, Andrew Townsend, expressed astonishment that the hotel - one of the best in its day - has been left standing empty since 1990 by its owners, Palmers Brewery of Bridport.

Andrew is far from alone in this view. There is nothing else that causes as much adverse comment from the people of Lyme Regis than the sight of the Three Cups standing empty and deteriorating daily.

The Lyme Regis Society has suggested to Palmers Brewery and to Dorset Council that the ground floor would make a perfect, and much needed, Jurassic Coast Visitors Centre.

Palmers want to convert the upper floors into flats, but, if they can't be turned to public use, they would be better used accommodating visitors to our World Heritage Coast.

What could be done with the Three Cups? Well! apart from a Jurassic Coast Visitors Centre on the ground floor, it could also be home to the Lyme Regis Tourist Office. If the whole building came into public use, there would be room for an Arts Centre, Conference Rooms, Museum Research Rooms and perhaps the Dark Skies Society could make use of the upper floor for study. Light pollution at night is low in Lyme Regis.

The Lyme Regis Society has a particular interest in bringing this fine building back into use because the Society was formed there in 1934 when townspeople were concerned at the number of old buildings being cleared away to make holiday homes for wealthy people. Miss Bridget Lutyens, niece of the famous architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, was the first Secretary of the fledgling Conservation Society.

But the present Three Cups has connections much older than that for it replaced an earlier Three Cups that was owned by Thomas Hollis, a great friend and benefactor of Lyme Regis who was also an early benefactor of Harvard University. Thomas Hollis is commemorated by Harvard with their Harvard On Line Library Information System. Perhaps one day a modern Thomas Hollis will save the Three Cups for the townspeople of Lyme Regis.

Local artist, Hugh Dunsford-Wood, describes the ex hotel as the "flower of Lyme Regis" and goes on to say "They (Palmers) are stealing the main organ of hospitality from the people."

John Palmer, of Palmers Brewery has been quoted in the press as not being prepared to discuss plans for the hotel until seafront stabilisation work is completed, but this might not be until 2006/2007; why can't the building be opened temporarily with adequate restoration work carried out to ensure its future? The Lyme Regis Society fears that if restoration work is delayed too long, Palmers may have to consider demolition.

Now that we have learnt of the importance of the Three Cups in connection with Tolkien, we are even more determined to try to bring this fine building back into public use. The day this happens there will be celebrations all over Lyme Regis and no doubt champagne corks will be popping. Certainly, it would help if members of the Tolkien Society expressed support for our aims."


Blogger Richard Bryce said…

I would like to add my support to the campaign to save The Three Cups, as a listed building with great potential.


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