Sandhurst Hotel - Edwardian splendour in Middlewich
PUBLISHED: 10:07 13 April 2012 | UPDATED: 19:39 08 October 2017
Period dramas are fascinating many of us, but why merely watch Downton Abbey when you could be living it at this Edwardian-themed hotel in Middlewich?<br/><br/>WORDS BY POLLY BERKELEY<br/><br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Hotel owner Rowena Moore knows a thing or two about behaving as the lady of the manor. Rowena, aged 49, believes that the Sandhurst Hotel in Middlewich is the only Edwardian-themed hotel and restaurant in the UK, which is surely a good enough excuse for those who want to dress up as Lord and Lady Grantham to pay a visit.
But not only is the hotel on the Upstairs Downstairs zeitgeist it has now become a star in its own right. It has recently been filmed for the latest run of the Channel 4 series Four in a Bed, though we of course have been sworn to secrecy about whether it is a hit with the other hotel owners who come to ‘review’ its facilities.
Step over the threshold and it really is like hitting the switch on a time machine. The Edwardian hat stand, the dining room with its potted plants, crystal glasses on the table and pictures of long-deceased relatives on the wall, everything here reflects the bygone days when Victorian austerity gave way to Edwardian gaiety.
And it isn’t only the decor (cleverly sourced from online auction sites and antique shops) that has been given the 1900s treatment. The menus at Hudson’s restaurant are a reflection of meals long ago. They have been carefully researched so they are more or less what people of the era would have eaten.
Rowena, whose mobile ringtone just so happens to be the tune from Fawlty Towers, fell in love with the building several years ago but never dreamed it could be hers. However, it was a place that had not only captured her imagination but one that had a mysterious air of destiny that drew her back again and again.
She takes up the story: ‘I’d been looking for licensed premises on the commercial market until one lunchtime I was walking through Holmes Chapel and saw a picture in the window of the estate agent. It had been described as a 13-bedroomed house, so it wasn’t even on the commercial market but I took the details anyway. Of course, it was far too expensive and my husband Steve assured me it would never make any money.
‘Two or three months later I received a stop press letter from the estate agents and the house had been reduced by £100,000. Well, it was still too expensive and my husband once again said no but I went to take a look at it and the minute I walked in, I knew what I would do with it. I knew where I’d put the bar and the restaurant, I also knew I’d have to start from scratch but I told my husband I was in love with it and dragged him to take a look. Then I put in the lowest offer without him knowing and in a way was dreading it being accepted – but it was!’
Raising the funds for the house was only part of the uphill struggle for Rowena and Steve but somehow she managed it and says that every time a setback occurred somehow it was sorted out. It was as if the house was controlling the sale. Then there was the lengthy process of refurbishing the house and transforming it into the hotel and restaurant it is today.
‘I knew I wanted it to be themed as a hotel from 1902 which is when the house was built,’ explains mother-of-four Rowena.
‘And everything here compliments the theme, even the staff curtsey and bow at the table – and we don’t have a proper till, ours is an old Arkwright till from the period.
‘Food from our chef Neil Jones is researched from old books like Mrs Beeton and cooked from locally sourced produce and we are going to have our own real ale very soon, Hudson’s Tipple and Lord Bellamy’s Brew in bottles.’
Special event nights and weddings are also now a staple of the hotel. The Sandhurst has a licence for civil weddings and creates bespoke packages to suit any budget. There are no brochures, couples can just sit down with Rowena and tell her the kind of food and entertainment they enjoy. For example, one couple opted for a murder mystery wedding, where one of the guests gets ‘murdered’!
Themed 70s nights are a chance for guests to dress up and enjoy retro classics like prawn cocktail and chicken Kiev and throughout the year there are Greek nights, Bollywood nights, and there’s even a five-course Olympic menu in August.
It’s clearly a place to have fun in a quirky and historic setting, and, if you wish, get into the spirit by dressing up as those Downton or Upstairs, Downstairs characters!
The Sandhurst Hotel and Hudson’s Restaurant,
69 Chester Road, Middlewich
Tel 01606 834 125