Nineteenth Century Hotels In The British Isles
( Originally Published 1927 )
Not only did the word hotel become more frequently applied to the larger hostelries in England in the early years of the nineteenth century, but the period saw the primitive inn transformed into a more complete type of shelter for the traveller. The inn and its tap-room were gradually being replaced, but the rapid extension of railroads after they were introduced in England, which made obsolete the stage coach, also had the effect of modernizing the hotel business in the United Kingdom. The old inn refused to pass out of existence, and, indeed, there was no demand for its elimination, certainly not on the part of American travellers, who were quite as much charmed by the ancient inns of the Mother Country as they were with the beauty of the landscape and the quaintness of the many ancient structures to be found there. These travellers felt that it would not be England without the atmosphere of hospitality which the very sight of an inn sign board seemed to convey; and they were right.
However, the ancient inn, especially in the provinces, was not able to offer the conveniences and comforts and luxuries which the hotel, especially the London hotel, could and did furnish. Neither were the old houses so commodious or capacious enough to take care of the immense in-crease in the number of travellers which the railroads made possible. The last quarter of the same century witnessed a decided improvement in the design, capacity and speed of the trans-atlantic steamships, and in the great number of voyagers from the United States to the Old World. British hotels not only increased in number but were provided with many attractions which were not lost on the tourists. Travellers there have always been, but the tourist may be defined as a traveller who seeks pleasure and recreation if they may be obtained comfortably. Consequently, the tourist as a type followed the steam railway and the steam-ship; and the modern hotel is the accompaniment of convenient transportation systems.
When the stage coach lines were at the zenith of their importance in England, the coaching houses or inns represented the best accommodation a traveller in that country could expect. At the termini of the coach lines and at the important posting houses along the roads where horses were changed were to be found the coaching inns. This system has been transferred to the railroads which followed the stage coaches, and all of the railroads in England have hotels attached to their important stations, a method which is found in only a very few instances in the United States.
One of the London hotels which was transformed from a coaching house to a more modern hotel was The Bull and Mouth, which stood in St. Martin's-le-Grand. While the old house and its successor are no longer visible, there are some contemporary views of both houses, and several descriptions, the liveliest of the latter appearing in "Real Life in London," a book now sought after for its colored plates and consequently scarce, which had a vogue among the smart young Londoners in 1821.
Bob Tallyho and his friends, Charles Sparkle and the Hon. Tom Dashall, find themselves near Bull and Mouth Street. On entering this narrow thoroughfare Bob cried:
"Bless me, this is a very confined street for such an inn."
The little street had derived its name from the inn sign, usually corrupted into the "Bull and Mouth," but originally it was the Boulogne Mouth, or harbor. The inn was a very old one in 1821.
`Hoy,' cried a coachman, rattling along the street in double quick time.
" `By your leave,' bawled a porter with a heavy chest on his back.
" `We shall certainly either be knocked down, or run over,' exclaimed Tallyho.
" `Never fear,' said Tom, `do but keep your ogles in action, all's right enough, and we shall soon be safely housed out of the bustle; but before we enter the house we will just cast our eyes about us. On the right, after passing the gate, is the coach-offices for receiving, booking and delivering parcels, and taking places for the passengers by the various vehicles which start from this place. On the left is the hotel and coffee-house, where every refreshment and accommodation may be obtained. The remaining part of the building, together with several others adjoining, which almost occupy the whole of this side of the street, are de-voted to stables, wagon and coach-houses, and out-offices.'
" `It is a very extensive concern then,' said Tallyho, `though it stands in such an out of the way obscure situation.'
" `Why you are already aware that the situation is not absolutely necessary to success in all cases in London,' was the reply. `The extensive circulation of a name or a sign are sometimes sufficient to obtain business;—and who has not heard of the Bull and Mouth, or the name of Willan-from the former is a considerable number of long stages and mail coaches, daily and nightly, the proprietor being a contractor with Government; and upon one occasion it is said, he was in treaty to supply an immense quantity of horses to convey troops to the coast, on the threatened invasion of Bonaparte, so that the epithet patriotic, might properly be applied to him. He, however, is lately deceased, and supposed to have left a considerable fortune.' "
In 1829 the old Bull and Mouth Inn, which stood at the corner of Bull and Mouth Street and St. Martin's-le-Grand, was pulled down and a modern Bull and Mouth erected on the site. In 1835 only the main building and one wing were completed. Over a large window which rose above the main entrance there was placed a huge stone cornice on which, to paraphrase the language of a writer of the period, "was placed a massy carving in stone, representing a bull in an immense mouth, with other distended portions of a human face; on each side and above it were festoons and wreaths of flowers, being a ludicrous emblem of the corrupted title of the inn. However, in those days, railways were coming into use and the stage coaches were rapidly approaching their end, so the new Bull and Mouth became a commonplace hostelry of the period, with its history and its picturesqueness gone with the walls of its predecessor.
The old Elephant and Castle Tavern, which antedated the nineteenth century, but which may be said to have reached the zenith of its fame in that cycle, is a name still kept alive in London, having been applied to a neighbor-hood which, according to the signs affixed to them, is the terminus for some of the buses. Its name has also been given to a station of the Underground Railway. The Tavern stood at the junction of seven roads, although now there are only six main avenues centering there, on the south side of the Thames in Newington. The sign was a very old one and probably derived from the arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, the "castle" being a popular name bestowed upon the howdah shown on the elephant's back. A description of the tavern in 1835 gives the information that many stage coaches stopped at the house to take on or discharge passengers. It is also believed that the original tavern of the name was in Newington in Shakespeare's day, and that it was the "Elephant" recommended as a lodging place in "Twelfth Night." In coaching days it really was a stage house, and was the first stage on the road from LeBelle Sauvage in London to parts of Surrey.
Another historic London tavern whose history concerns the nineteenth century, although its predecessor dated from the early eighteenth century, was The Crown and Anchor, in the Strand, opposite St. Clement's Church. Three taverns stood on this site, between Arundel Street and Mil-ford Lane. The first of these had the sign of The Crown, and within its walls was instituted the Academy of Music in the year 1710. Strype, in 1729, described it as a large and curious house, with good rooms and other conveniences fit for entertainments. After the Royal Society left The Mitre, in Fleet Street, in 1780, their dinners henceforth, until 1847, were held in The Crown and Anchor. In 1790 the second tavern of the name was erected and Timbs relates that its first landlord, Thomas Simkin, was so corpulent that, while superintending a large dinner in his tavern, he leaned against a balustrade which gave way with his great weight, and he fell to the floor below and was killed.
This second building had a ball-room eighty-four feet long and thirty-five feet six inches wide. In 1798, on the birthday of Charles James Fox, the great English statesman and orator, who was a \bitter opponent of Pitt, a banquet was given here in his honor. Two thousand persons at-tended and the Duke of Norfolk presided. During the first half of the nineteenth century the Crown and Anchor was the scene of many important political meetings and banquets, which it was able to accommodate by reason of a very spacious banquet hall. Daniel O'Connell, a great Irish orator and statesman, addressed a large meeting there not a great while before the building was destroyed by fire, in 1854. There was a third tavern built upon the spot, but modern improvements have effaced it.
In the first Crown and Anchor, Johnson and Boswell occasionally supped, and here it was that the great lexicographer quarrelled with Bishop Percy. An interesting and characteristically animated picture of a "Political Dinner" at the Crown and Anchor is given in "Real Life in London." This view gives an admirable idea of the great banqueting room of the second tavern, which in its later years was the scene of many gatherings of what one writer denominates as "modern reformers," among them Sir Francis Burdett.
Highbury Barn is another London institution which has not been permitted to sink into oblivion even if its history is not at the finger-tips of every Londoner, native or visitor. He sees the sign hung on certain busses notifying the passenger that is the terminus of that transportation line. Yet the old Highbury Barn, which was not a barn at all but originally a manor house on a farm, has had a rather eventful history, entirely encompassed by the nineteenth century. There is no call to delve into the ancient history of High-bury, which is about three miles in an air line from Charing Cross, but a word or two about one of the old tavern's distinguished patrons of the eighteenth century should not be omitted.
Not a great distance from the old Highbury Barn, as the tavern then there was called in 1762-64, still stands that part of Canonbury House called Canonbury Tower, where Oliver Goldsmith, under the guidance of Newberry, the publisher, was in hiding from creditors and writing that beautiful little classic, "The Vicar of Wakefield." Occasionally he would take a walk to Highbury, where he always dined at the Barn. His friend, Cooke, describing the incident, wrote that there was then "a very good ordinary, of two dishes, and a pastry, kept at Highbury Barn, at tenpence per head, including a penny to the waiter; and the company consisted of literary characters, a few Templars and some citizens who had left off trade; the whole expenses of the day's fete never exceeding a crown."
At the opening of the nineteenth century the business of the tavern increased in importance. The Highbury Society had held meetings there as early as 1740, and now various organizations began to hold their annual feasts in the old house. In 1801 it is recorded that one society gave a dinner there at which eight hundred persons sat down to hot dishes. In 1811 the increasing prosperity of the tavern was commented upon in Nelson's "History of Islington," where it was asserted that the business done there in the summer months was not surpassed by that of any similar place in the metropolis. Half a century later, however, the tavern began to decline. A panorama was shown there, and a tea garden added. In the fifties annual dinners were given there by some London organizations. Carnival balls were held and in 1862 a music hall erected. Later this was transformed into a theatre, but even this had to close its doors in the early seventies of the nineteenth century.
England always has been a land of feasting by means of great public dinners. It obviously would be impracticable to even give a list of all the taverns, inns and hotels which have been the scenes of these ceremonial functions. The London Tavern, in Fleet Street, now no more, was famed for the number and character of these dinners. Willis's Rooms, London, was the scene of many regimental and other dinners at which great personages were guests, among them King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales. The Freemasons' Tavern, in the same capital, was another house which prided itself on its menus on these occasions, and then there is the Langham Hotel, Portland Place, which was favored by prominent Americans visiting London.
The Hotel Metropole, which has been the temporary home of many eminent Americans visiting London during the last forty years and frequented by British royalty, has a history which is intimately connected with the improvements following the construction of the Victoria Embankment. Although this most interesting feature of the scheme for beautifying and modernizing the English capital was opened in 1870, it was not until three years later that Northumberland House, which faced the Strand and had gardens extending to the Thames, was acquired from the Duke of Northumberland, so that a new approach to the Embankment might be cut through, and in 1876 this thoroughfare, called Northumberland Avenue, was finished. Part of the gardens of Northumberland House and part of Old Scotland Yard, a locality which has given a romantic background to so many tales of fiction, were purchased in 1882 by a company which proceeded to erect the Metropole Hotel, which was opened in 1885, having required three years to build. The hotel thus stands not only on a historic site, but in the environment of Old Whitehall, which, with its famed banqueting hall, was the scene of many royal feastings in a former age.
Old Whitehall's traditions were revived by the hotel which contains on its ground floor level a famed suite of banqueting apartments known as the Whitehall Rooms. Whitehall Place, on which one side of the hostelry opens, also keeps alive the name of this locality. These apartments have frequently had as guests at great dinners King Edward, King George (while Prince of Wales), the late Duke of Cambridge, and the Duke of Connaught. One of the most notable of these historic dinners was that given by the United Service Club on November 4, 1887, for the Duke of Cambridge. The mere list of guests at that function seemed to include the most eminent names in England.
On September 18, 1903, King Edward, who was represented by the Duke of Connaught, gave a banquet in the Whitehall Rooms in honor of the foreign officers who had been attending the army maneuvers. The dinner was a "command" one, which meant that all the officers present wore full-dress uniform, and the scene was one of splendor. The Whitehall Rooms have become noted for regimental dinners which are held there annually in the season. These are usually attended by royal personages, and a list would look like a page of the "Almanach de Gotha." Many of the great city companies of London give, their annual dinners at the Metropole. The passing of the old year is another custom which is celebrated there with the proper amount of noise and gaiety the occasion is usually believed to demand. In 1921 the Metropole began to give the "Midnight Follies," a style of entertainment which was then new in London. It was explained to be "a fight for brighter London," and as the London County Council seemed to be properly horrified at the innovation, when it recovered its composure it ordered that costumes should not be worn by the per-formers and that there should be no more than six persons in the cast. But the press and the public sided with the hotel, and the L. C. C. "slowly but surely weakened," so within a few months many artists who had been familiar to American and Paris review audiences were introduced to London. By degrees the performance was directed away from the cabaret idea, playlets were introduced and the Midnight Follies became the vogue, especially as members of the Royal family were frequent visitors.
When Daniel Webster went to the British Isles, in 1839, he stopped in London at the Brunswick; in Liverpool at the Adelphi, and in Edinburgh at the Douglas. All of these houses have passed away, but in Liverpool is a new Adelphi Hotel which is very modern, having been built only a few years ago, and the equal of American hotels in its conveniences.
England has a host of historic hotels outside of those in London. They are to be found in almost every town, but a few of them may be said to be historic without fear of contradiction. There is The George, at Portsmouth; The Red Horse, at Stratford-on-Avon; and The King's Arms and Castle, at Kenilworth, to mention only three, which have the best of claims to be regarded as historic hotels, and while all of them began their career earlier than the nineteenth century, it was in that period that they made history, or were the scenes of historic events. There are others whose claim seems to rest upon a sentimental rather than a historic interest, and still others whose history seems to be a little more intangible.
The George, on High Street, Portsmouth, rejoices in a history that extends over two and a half centuries, or, as one picturesque writer has put it, "from the days of Blake to Beatty." That sentence gives the clue to the fact that, being in a naval port, the old hotel has been the temporary home of British naval officers so long that it is properly regarded as a navy house. While Blake, who defeated the Dutch fleet in 1653, Rodney, Howe, and other British admirals may have stopped at The George, certainly Nelson did, and we are not compelled to rely upon other testimony than his own diary. That last night he spent in England was partly passed at The George.
"At half-past ten drove from dear, dear Merton, where I left all that I hold dear in this world, to go to serve my King and Country," he wrote as he was driven in a chaise to The George. Indeed, the night was virtually over when he arrived, for it was near six o'clock in the morning, but he went to his room for a few hours' rest.
His biographer, Southey, has described the scene which followed. Crowds gathered in front of the inn—for it was not termed a hotel in 1805—and called for the hero to appear. They became so insistent that Nelson finally appeared at the big bay window of the drawing room and spoke a few words as the enthusiastic throng cheered. His flag-ship, the Victory, was lying at anchor at Southsea Beach, and in order to reach his ship without encountering the loyal but clamorous throng of admirers the hero of Trafalgar was spirited through the back door and across the inn yard. The ruse was quickly discerned by the crowd, and they ran after him calling, "Save us, Lord Nelson," for it should be remembered that in those days the name of Napoleon was feared in England as well as on the continent, and the Little Corporal had threatened to invade Britain. Only Nelson and the British fleet could prevent the conquest, and as the world knows, it was prevented, although the Admiral died at the moment of victory.
Nelson occupied room number 15 on his last visit to The George, and the apartment with its furnishings have been left as far as possible as it was when the hero occupied it. Opposite is room 14, which is now known as the Hamilton Room, having been made famous from associations with Nelson's dearest friend. The Duke of Wellington, another, and final opponent of Napoleon, stopped at the hotel in 1814, when the Allied Sovereigns, after the Peace of Paris, visited Portsmouth. Captain Marryat, once a British naval officer, but best known as a writer of entrancing sea tales, also stayed at The George.
Americans who go to Stratford-on-Avon usually seek out The Red Horse Hotel, on the Market Square, after they have absorbed all of Shakespearean interest in this picturesque Warwickshire town, for the inn that dates its beginning from the days of Charles I is better known for its assodations with Washington Irving, the American author.
That a man who subsequently was President of the United States also had been a guest at the inn seems to have been overlooked, and yet, under the guidance of Irving, who was then, 1831, Secretary of the United States Legation at London, Martin Van Buren, at that time United States Minister to the Court of St. James, toured the interior of England and visited Stratford.
Irving was a guest at The Red Horse at least twice: the first time when he had been engaged on the papers published under the general title of "The Sketch Book, of Geoffrey Crayon." The paper on "Stratford-on-Avon" was issued in September, 1820, and it is probable that the paper was written in the month of March that year, and the greater part of it was penned in the Red Horse. There can be no doubt that he was charmed with the old inn, which was in those days more picturesque externally than it now is. This charm with his surroundings is very infectiously put in the opening paragraph of his paper on Stratford.
"To a homeless man, who has no spot on this wide world which he can truly call his own," he begins, "there is a momentary feeling of something like independence and territorial consequence, when, after a weary day's travel, he kicks off his boots, thrusts his feet into slippers, and stretches himself before an inn fire. Let the world without go as it may; let kingdoms rise or fall, so long as he has the where-withal to pay his bill, he is, for the time being, the very monarch of all he surveys. The arm-chair is his throne; the poker his sceptre, and the little parlor of some twelve feet square, his undisputed empire. It is a morsel of certainty, snatched from the midst of the uncertainties of life; it is a sunny moment gleaming out kindly on a cloudy day; and he who has advanced some way on the pilgrimage of existence knows the importance of husbanding even morsels and moments of enjoyment. `Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?' thought I, as I gave the fire a stir, lolled back in my elbow chair, and cast a complaisant look about the little parlor of the Red Horse, at Stratford-on-Avon."
Just before Christmas in the year 1831 Irving left London, where he was Secretary of the Legation, "with Mr. Van Buren and his son, on a tour to show them some interesting places in the interior, and to give them an idea of English country life, and the festivities of an old-fashioned Christmas." After seeing Oxford and Blenheim, they passed a night and part of the following day at Stratford.
"We were quartered at the little inn of the Red Horse," Irving wrote in a letter to his sister, Mrs. Daniel Paris, "where I found the same obliging little landlady that kept it at the time of the visit recorded in the Sketch Book. You cannot imagine what a fuss the little woman made when she found out who I was. She showed me the room I had occupied, in which she had hung up my engraved likeness, and she produced a poker which was locked up in the archives of her house, on which she had caused to be en-graved `Geoffrey Crayon's Sceptre.'
Irving's immortalized "little parlor" is the front room on the left on entering the gateway of the inn, and his "throne" and "sceptre" are not only treasured but exhibited to every American visitor.
Fanny Kemble spent two months there in 1877, and William Winter, the American critic of the theatres, visited Stratford in 1885. In his paper on "The Shrines of Warwickshire," which forms a paper in his little book, "Shakespeare's England," he tells of his stay at the ancient inn. He found it "in new hands, and seems to be fresher and brighter than of old—without, however, having parted with either its antique furniture or its delightful antique ways. The old mahogany and wax-candle period has not ended yet in this happy place, and you sink to sleep on a snow-white pillow, soft as down and fragrant as lavender."
"They have made," he adds, "a niche in the right hand corner of Washington Irving's parlor, and in it have placed his arm-chair, recushioned and polished, and sequestered from touch by a large sheet of plate glass. The relic may still be seen, but the pilgrim can sit upon it no more."
The various landlords of the old hotel have kept alive a tradition that in July, 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, escorted by a body of troops, arrived at Stratford-on-Avon where she met Prince Rupert, and stayed at the Red Horse and Golden Lion Inn; for that, it seems, is the full name of the house; but its story really belongs to the nineteenth century.
At Kenilworth, not very many miles from Stratford-on-Avon, is King's Arms and Castle Hotel, which received its fame from having had Sir Walter Scott as a guest in 1820, when he was writing his novel, "Kenilworth." This house, too, has a decidedly nineteenth century appearance, and certainly its fame is intimately connected with that period.
While there are persons who assert that the great novelist wrote "Kenilworth" in the hotel, the facts are that, being the prince of historical novelists, Scott was a great student of history as well as local traditions. He planned "Kenilworth" in his Scotch home, but went to visit the ancient ruins of the great Norman castle in order to absorb the atmosphere, and study at first hand the actual structure or so much of it as is left. He lived, while in the village, at the King's Arms and Castle, and there wrote some of the novel which was to be published the following year.
The room in the inn which he is said to have occupied is shown with much reverence, and the furniture of the apartment, including a great four-post bedstead, visitors are assured were used by Sir Walter during his stay.
Clovelly, on the Devonshire coast of England, is one of those places which had been on the map for ages without anybody having discovered it, and then, as out of a clear sky, somebody writes a novel and gives Clovelly a prominent place in its pages, and ever since the tiny town, whose single street seems to cling to the rocks, has been overrun each summer with holiday visitors and tourists. Equally strange is the name given to the hostelry, the sign board of which calls it New Inn, and yet everybody in the village will tell you it is so old that no one knows its age.
Charles Kingsley may be said to have opened up Clovelly to the world in his novel, "Westward Ho!" in which the quaint town is pictured in several chapters—Westward Hoe itself is on the coast about eleven miles from Clovelly. "Westward Ho!" the novel, was published in 1855, and among the first tourists to be attracted to the romantic little place was Charles Dickens. In the Christmas number of All the Year Round, 1860, appeared "A Message from the Sea," a tale by Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The scene of this was laid in Clovelly, and an admirable description of the little village was written by Dickens, and comprises the first chapter of the tale. A later author, Lucas Malet, who was a daughter of Charles Kingsley and the wife of the Rev. William Harrison, rector of Clovelly, but chose that name for her literary works, wrote a novel entitled "The Wages of Sin," which refers to the quaint little village on the cliff. All of these writers had rested themselves in New Inn, which in its rambling architectural way seems to be climbing Clovelly's eight-feet-wide street. Transportation on this main thoroughfare is carried on by means of donkeys which are provided with quaintly designed pack saddles. There also are sledges on which luggage is drawn up or down over the polished cobble paving of this street on the side of a Devonshire Cliff.
Weymouth, at the mouth of the River Wey, on the south coast of England, has been a resort for a century and a half. George III was charmed with it and occupied Gloucester Lodge there. With Queen Charlotte he passed his summers at Weymouth for many years, and it is said that it was in Gloucester Lodge that he placed his signature to the Treaty of Peace which acknowledged the independence of the United States. It was while summering there that the King received more welcome news of the victory of the British fleet over that of the French at Trafalgar, in 1805. Unfortunately, the same message contained the information that the brave Nelson had been killed in the engagement. Gloucester Lodge was enlarged and turned into a hotel some years ago, and on March 3, 1927, was partly destroyed by a fire which gutted the wing which formerly had contained the Royal apartments.
Dublin, the capital of the Irish Free State, has a hotel that is closely linked up with modern Irish history, and also with literature and art. This is the Shelbourne, which stands on one of the borders of the picturesque St. Stephen's Green Park.
Part of the present building dates from the first half of the nineteenth century, when it was the town house of the Lansdowne family, and was then known as Kerry House, for the Fitzmaurices came from County Kerry, and as some of them wore the coronets of Earls of Shelbourne, the hotel rather naturally derived its name from this title. It was while the original mansion was occupied by a Marquis of Lansdowne as a town house that the ceiling of the great drawing room, now the ballroom of the hotel, was deco-rated by Angelica Kaufmann, the Swiss historical and portrait painter. These decorations have been admirably preserved.
During the middle nineteenth century, or about the time Thackeray was writing "Vanity Fair," Kerry House was transformed into a private hotel. The place is mentioned in Thackeray's novel. In 1863 the hotel was taken over by the company which still operates it. The house had been enlarged by the addition of other mansions adjoining it on Merrion Road, and completely modernized. While the hotel's history has the Lansdowne, Kaufmann, and Thackeray connections, its part in the national development is not inconsiderable, for in Room No. 60 the Constitution of the Irish Free State was framed. As the house has for many years been the centre for those who visit Dublin for the great social and sporting events of the year, such as the Royal Dublin Society's Horse Show in August, and Spring Show in May, or the famed Punchestown Races, its register naturally contains many noted names, both of residents of the British Isles and travelling Americans. The great families of Ireland have made it their headquarters while in the capital city of the Free State.
In the ancient settlement, for it is no longer a town, of Glendalough, which is nestled very attractively in the mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland, stands the Royal Hotel, which is nearly nine miles from the nearest railroad station. It has been a hotel for almost, or quite, a century, having been called Jordan's Hotel until the year 1871, when it was renamed in honor of a visit from royalty.
On August 5, 1871, the late King Edward, then Prince of Wales, accompanied by his brother, the Duke of Connaught, and his sister, the Duchess of Argyle (Princess Louise), visited Glendalough. In the party also were Lord Spencer, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; Lady Spencer, Duke and Duchess of Manchester, Duke and Duchess of Hamilton, Earl and Countess of Listowel, Duke of Leinster, Marquis of Waterford, and Edward Cavendish. The modest little hostelry never had before entertained so distinguished a company, although some eminent personages before and since that occasion have registered at the Royal Hotel.
Sir Walter Scott, Thackeray, and the poet Thomas Moore have stopped there, and it is recorded that during the last twenty-five years, at least, all the prime ministers and ministers for the colonies who have visited Ireland have been guests at the Royal. Artists, writers and other distinguished persons have written their names in the register. Sir John Lavery; George Bernard Shaw, who, of course, is a native Irishman; the late Michael Collins, and Eamon DeValera, who was President of the short-lived Irish Re-public, are among the number, to say nothing of many eminent Americans.
During the Irish Civil War, in 1922, the hotel was the scene of a skirmish, whose marks are still plainly discernible on its bullet-nicked walls. The Irish Irregulars attacked the place from the neighboring hills, but were finally driven off by the Free State troops. Since 1895 the hotel has been operated by a company.
The explanation of the attraction that this lonely spot in the Wicklow Mountains has for notables is found in the fact that at Glendalough are the ruins of the oldest cathedral in Ireland, and some other structures, including a round tower, all of which date from the sixth century. The cathedral probably is the oldest in Europe, although it is smaller than many a modern chapel.