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, June 25, 2009

Local, National and International Coverage

The protest march on 20th June has really started something. Click through for some very interesting links.

There is coverage in the local press. See "Lyme schoolboy fights on to save Three Cups Hotel" and "Over 1,000 people sign protest petition", in The View From Lyme Regis of 24/06/2009.

And in The Times On-Line: "Boy fights to save J.R.R. Tolkien hotel, the Three Cups, in Lyme Regis".

And further afield: "A Boy’s Fight To Save J.R.R. Tolkien Hotel" in OneIndia on-line.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Protest March Photos

Click on "Read the full post" to see two photographs which show the excellent turnout and evident enthusiasm.

Below: The march along The Parade

Below: The queue to sign the petition

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Public Protest March - 20th June

Help to re-open The Three Cups Hotel. Come to the public protest march in Lyme Regis on Saturday 20th June. Meet on Marine Parade near the amusement arcade at 11:45. Come in costume as someone (or something) from The Lord of The Rings because Tolkien stayed at The Three Cups Hotel.

This is the march which was publicised in The Bridport & Lyme Regis News on 11th June. Many thanks to Leon Howe for organising this event. I'm sorry I will not be able to be there myself but I wish those taking part every success. If the people of Lyme Regis turn out in great numbers to make a public show of their determination to see The Three Cups re-opened, then the march will have succeeded. It will only remain for the elected district councillors to take note of the wishes of the people who they serve and act in their interests.

Leon Howe has asked that marchers appear as characters from Tolkien's books. May I suggest that anyone with suitable attire to represent the following people should do so because they are also associated with The Three Cups Hotel: Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterton, Lord Tennyson, Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep (as seen in The French Lieutenant's Woman film).

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Vote for Change?

So far the Conservative led West Dorset District Council has taken no action on compulsory purchase of The Three Cups. Things may be about to change according to a report in the Bridport and Lyme Regis News today.

The Liberal Democrat councillors on West Dorset District Council have submitted a motion for presentation to the Council meeting on 16th July calling on them to begin the process of compulsory purchase for The Three Cups Hotel in Lyme Regis and the Old Swan pub in Toller Porcorum. This will be a wonderful opportunity for West Dorset District Council to respond to the wishes of their voters and support this motion.

The people who attended the meeting in Lyme Regis about The Three Cups on 5th June gave an indication of the strength of feeling for preserving the building in its historic role as a hotel to serve the tourist business of the town: 235 to nil in favour of compulsory purchase. It may not have been a scientifically chosen sample of all residents of Lyme but it is a result which democratically elected local politicians should not ignore.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Coverage, Coverage, Coverage

They say a hotel needs location, location, location. We know that The Three Cups has got that in the centre of Lyme Regis. In its current sad derelict and decaying state, it has been lacking publicity. Thankfully, that is now being received in plenty due the hard work of The Three Cups Action group and the local press.

The Bridport and Lyme Regis News has a second article about The Three Cups on their website this week. Click here to read about "Anger over plans to revamp Lyme hotel". This, along with their previous article and the coverage in the "View From Lyme Regis", should get the message across to West Dorset District Council: the people of Lyme Regis want The Three Cups re-opened as a hotel. The current owners, Palmers, won't do it. So, West Dorset District councillors should serve the people who elected them and use the powers they have to issue a compulsory purchase order.

The council seems to keep saying that compulsory purchase would cost money, set a bad precedent and it could only be done as a last resort. The campaigners keep responding that the hotel could be sold on at a profit, it would set a good precedent and the last resort has been reached. The people of Lyme Regis don't want to wait any longer because it is costing the economy of their area at least £1,500 every day as long as it remains closed. I hope that the council gets the message.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Optimism for the Future

I think everyone who was at the meeting in Lyme Regis on 5th June regarding the future of The Three Cups will be feeling optimistic about seeing the hotel open for business. I am even more optimistic for the future of Lyme Regis to see someone as young Leon Howe joining the campaign to save the heritage of his town.

If you read the report in The Lyme Regis News, you will learn about his contribution to the meeting and his commitment to the action group formed then.

Whenever Marcus Dixon of the Lyme Regis Development Trust speaks about the future of The Three Cups Hotel, he pleads for the employment needs of the young people of the town to be taken into account. Obviously, to open The Three Cups again as a hotel would be the best way to bring more tourist business to the area and create jobs. I would say that young people like Leon Howe who are prepared to speak out for what they believe to be right and best for their community deserve a better future. Everyone who can help the campaign should be inspired by Leon to do as much as they can to Save The Three Cups - AS A HOTEL.

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Report on Meeting of 5/6/09

I was going to write my own report on the meeting of The Three Cups Action Group on 5th June but I don't think I can improve on the account provided by the The View From Lyme Regis. Click here to read their on-line report.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009


Palmers clearly felt they needed (just one day before the “Save the Three Cups” Action Meeting in Lyme) to issue a press release to take the headline of Lyme News saying they intended to appoint architects to prepare plans for a multi million pound "makeover" for The Three Cups. We wonder if they still think it was wise to have put out such a release….

In fact their plan was discussed at the Public Meeting in Lyme Regis, next day, on 5th June and an extraordinary number of attenders (235) voted unanimously by 235 people to 0 to completely reject Palmers’ newly announced plan for commercial units, restaurant and high quality flats. Instead the 235 people present all voted unanimously in favour of re-opening the Three Cups as a hotel, and retaining the nature of its grade II–listing, all the more so as the current Lyme Regis hotels just can not cope with demand for hotel beds and urge that the Three Cups re-open as fast as possible as a hotel. (See ‘Hotel Shortage’ below.)

The Three Cups is not just a building or a façade. Its value to the economy of the town is as a hotel. To turn it into flats, doubtless in the end, for weekenders would be to destroy it. It would not be the national treasure that it should be. The meeting saw the hotel’s shape from the map of 1841 – exactly as it is today.

I made copious notes in the meeting but don't have time just now to write up a lengthy report. However, I would say that the mood in Lyme Regis about the dereliction and danger of The Three Cups seems to have changed from quiet desperation to rising anger. And since the last meeting the Westminster Expenses Scandal has created an expectation that politicians even at the local level should be seen to be serving the interests of the people who elected them and not the rich elite. It was very good of Oliver Letwin and Sue Farrant to make the effort to attend.

In view of the above, the legal opinion given without fee, out of public service, by Michael Turner QC was music to my ears and was obviously well received by the meeting. The Cups ticks all the boxes for compulsory purchase and there is no reason why West Dorset District Council should not buy The Cups and sell it on, (by a back-to-back arrangement so that tax-payers money is not used at all), possibly at a profit for the people, to one of the THREE hoteliers who have already expressed interest in buying ALL the building and running it as a hotel. What a pity that Mr David Clarke, CEO, Dr David Evans, Director of Planning and Environment, and Councillor Robert Gould, Leader of WDDC, all turned down the invitations to be there and also failed to provide even one deputy for this very important Public occasion, to hear and debate the wishes of the people. One attender caught the mood of the meeting saying we should run a meeting at a time which - by prior agreement - would ensure the relevant WDDC personnel would be able to be present.

Bridport News completely failed to publicise the meeting and I didn't meet any reporters from the Lyme Regis News. Perhaps they could confirm whether they were interested enough in the will of the people or the legal situation to send a reporter.

On Friday 5th June the Public Meeting in Lyme Regis heard that the two main hotels in Lyme Regis can not nearly cope with the demand for hotel beds. Lesley Stone, proprietor of the Royal Lion said “We have a very heavy demand for our bedrooms. A re-opening of the Three Cups as a Hotel will definitely succeed, and the sooner it opens the better”. Kathryn Haskins, owner of the Alexandra Hotel says its return as a hotel would be “a fantastic success”, and it would “make a great boutique hotel” and would be “a stunning asset” to the town. “We could fill our rooms two or three times over, and even in winter Lyme’s massive pull as a prime weekend-break location ensures high occupancy rates.” David Parker, Chairman of the Lyme Regis and District Hotels and Restaurants Association says “Tourism is our most important industry. We urgently need more hotel rooms across the board. A re-opened Three Cups will be a big step forward, create employment and bring new spending power to the community.”

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Saturday, June 06, 2009

Another Unanimous Resolution

A meeting of The Three Cups Action group was held in Lyme Regis tonight (5th June). It was more strongly supported than the Community Action on Pubs meeting on 24th April. 235 people were present this time. As with the previous meeting, a vote was taken and all 235 people were for immediate Compulsory Purchase of The Three Cups to be sold on as a hotel to avoid the building being converted to flats by the currrent owner (Palmers). It looks like something is really going to happen this time. More details later.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Prove Him Wrong

"Politicians don't care about heritage", said Griff Rhys Jones in a recent Daily Telegraph article. I hope that politicians will show that they do care about The Three Cups after the meeting about the hotel's future on Friday 5th June. (See details below.)

After all, what is at stake is not just the limited hotel accommodation in Lyme Regis but part of our national heritage. In these uncertain times, we need every artifact of our history accessible to remind us of our culture and maintain social cohesion.

Many writers are associated with Lyme Regis. Tolkien wrote myths which work through his knowledge of words and the history of languages. Chesterton wove together myth and history and theology. Jane Austen charms readers with novels of her contemporary society. In The Three Cups Hotel, we have a work of architecture, associated with all these writers, which is the central feature of Broad Street which is the main thoroughfare of Lyme Regis which should be the most famous Georgian resort town in Britain for its cultural connections.

However, as long as this famous building stands empty and derelict, life is draining from Lyme Regis and our culture. And the answer is not a block of flats to turn Lyme Regis into a Costa Geriatrica. Lyme Regis needs jobs and young people.

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