The Duke of Richmond has been a long-standing landmark in Guernsey’s St Peter Port for over a century. A part of Guernsey’s heritage, the hotel occupies the site of what was once Grover’s Hotel, believed to be Guernsey’s oldest hotel, which is mentioned in Berry’s History of Guernsey in 1815. An important trading port since ancient times, Guernsey was a thriving centre of shipbuilding during the 1800s and, for the majority of the 19th century, this petite island was home to an impressive 20 ship building yards. This growing industry, combined with the island’s prime location for smuggling, meant that Guernsey would have had plenty of visitors during that period and the original hotel wouldn’t have struggled for custom.
By the early 1900s Grover’s Hotel had made way for the Richmond Boarding House which, with 60 rooms and a dining room large enough to seat 80, was the Channel Island’s foremost boarding house. Conveniently located in St. Peter Port and equipped with a large garden, balcony and great views of the port, it became known as the Richmond Hotel and by the 1930s, it had established itself as one of the island’s most popular places to stay. The arrival of World War II put a halt to proceedings at the hotel when German troops arrived on the island in June 1940. Locals faced strict rationing and a severe lack of food during the occupation, a period which has been documented in the recently released film, The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society. After almost five years, the occupation came to an end on 9th May 1945, when British troops liberated the island. Known as Liberation Day in Guernsey, this day in May is still commemorated every year with fireworks, parades and celebratory events.
Following the aftermath of the war, the hotel was back in operation by the 1960s, with plans for significant enlargement. Improvements and alterations were made to the existing building throughout the decade until it was bought by Delrich Hotels in 1969. The company carried out extensive rebuilding and refurbishment on the property, paving the way for the hotel as it appears today, and also officially changing its name to The Duke of Richmond Hotel in 1970. The name was inspired by the third Duke of Richmond, who was responsible for commissioning the first ever map of Guernsey in 1769. By the end of the 1970s, new sea-facing rooms had been added to The Duke of Richmond and additional refurbishments were carried out over the next 30 or so years.
Red Carnation Hotels took over The Duke of Richmond in 2011, overhauling it to the brand’s exacting standards whilst still respecting the history of the St Peter Port building. An important part of island history since the 1800s, the hotel regularly organises events that pay tribute to Guernsey’s heritage, such as the traditional heritage menu that will be served in the Leopard Bar and Restaurant throughout the Heritage Festival and a celebratory Liberation Day Afternoon Tea.
Explore Guernsey’s intriguing history from the comfort of The Duke of Richmond Hotel.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.