In 1939, Freddie Hook & his wife Violet bought the Faulkner Hotel. Freddie, the son of a Thames lighter-man, had apprenticed in the kitchens of Sidmouth's Victoria Hotel, moving on to become Chef at the Fortfield Hotel, where he cooked for the Duke of Connaught. Violet (nee Hucker) was from an old Sidmouth family who ran the nearby Huckers' Luncheon Room.
After acquiring the Faulkner, with war imminent, visitors were scarce and for the first few months almost no one came! On the outbreak of hostilities Freddie joined the R.A.F, (although extraordinarily he was posted back to the nearby Riviera Hotel, taking charge of catering for the Sergeants Mess) leaving Violet to run the guesthouse while bringing up three small children.
After the war together they turned the Faulkner into a thriving hotel expanding into two more of the houses on York Terrace.
Their youngest son Peter had by then joined them in the family business.
In 1800, the area of the eastern promenade was still un-developed rough land where in the 18th Century ships had been built for coastal trades. It was here on the corner site of Fore Street, that construction of Sidmouth's first purpose built hotel began in 1807.
The concept of a hotel where people went to stay for extended periods was a new one in Regency times. Until then, those who travelled stayed at an inn and those who wished to reside for a time, either rented a house or took rooms according to their means.
The York Hotel, as it was then called, quickly became popular remaining for over 90 years the town's premier establishment.
Lord Charles Wellesley, second son of the 1st Duke of Wellington, stayed at the York Hotel in the summer of 1854. However, the most celebrated visitor was Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, who stayed in September, 1856, hence the Royal addition to the name.
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