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History of The Kings Arms, Christchurch

Written by Mike Andrews.

There can be few hotels in the country whose front windows overlook so much English history. Just across the road are the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle which was started just after the Norman invasion in 1066.  Beyond that is the beautiful Christchurch Priory built on the site of a Saxon Minster, which itself was constructed on a Bronze Age religious site.  The stone Constables House on the Millstream was built in the 1160s by the Earls of Devon, the De Redvers Family and entertained Royal visitors that included King John on more than seven occasions, Edward 1 visited with his son the future Edward 11 in 1297, Edward 111 in 1332, Richard Neville The Earl of Warwick (the King Maker during the Wars of the Roses) spent a lot of his childhood here, Henry V11 visited in 1499 Henry V111 in 1509 and 1539 and his son Edward V1 came here in 1552. The castle was involved in a battle during the Civil War.  Christchurch had been captured by Parliamentary troops in June 1644 and in January 1645 a Royalist force subjected the garrison to a three day siege. 

Later Royal visitors included the Duke of Edinburgh in 1955 and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1966.

The Kings Hotel itself was built in 1801 by George Rose and opened in 1802, Member of Parliament for Christchurch from 1796-1818. It was built on the site of the Old Kings Arms Inn which dated from 1670. When the hotel opened it was known as Humbys (Thomas Humby was the first landlord). The reason for its construction was to cater for the numerous members of the aristocracy who were visiting Mudeford to enjoy the pleasures of sea bathing and who wished for a high quality establishment where they could socialise in the evenings.

George Rose was one of the most influential men of his time he was close Friend of William Pitt and George 111.  As Secretary to the Navy George Rose was closely associated with the first Fleet to Australia, Rose Bay and Rosemount are named after him.  His Friendship with Lord Nelson was such that he dined on board the Victory the night before she sailed for Trafalgar and Nelson was writing to George Rose just before the battle.

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