The History of Bovey Castle

In 1890, William Henry Smith (WH Smith, later to become Viscount Hambleden) purchased 5,000 acres of land from the Earl of Devon for £103,000. The estate consisted of several large ancient manors, including Moretonhampstead and North Bovey; almost thirty farms, extensive woodland and fishing rights on the rivers Bovey and Teign. It was his son, Frederick, who built the Manor House in a lavish neo-Elizabethan style as one of the family's numerous country retreats.

The interior boasted a Jacobean style staircase, plaster ceilings, an oak panelled dining room, open fireplace with a carved stone chimney and an Adam drawing room. Frederick became involved in Devon life and was a subaltern in the Devonshire Yeomanry, leading the regiment in Gallipoli and Egypt in the First World War. During the First World War, the Manor House became a convalescent home for officers and as a military hospital when war broke out again in 1939.

The Hambleden family rarely visited the Manor House during the 1920s, but when they did venture down to Devon the villages of Moretonhampstead and North Bovey would turn out to watch the spectacle. Lord Hambleden died in June 1928. His estate, consisting largely of the entire ordinary shareholding of WH Smith and his properties, were valued at £3,500,000 but was liable for death duty of £1,000,000. North Bovey Manor House and its estate were almost immediately put on the market to pay the death duty, which was eventually auctioned to the Great Western Railway for conversion to a golfing hotel for reputedly only £15,000.

The hotel and golf course opened in 1930 and the hotel entertained many celebrities. Following several successful years, another 17 bedrooms, a cocktail bar, dining room and squash and badminton courts were added between1935-1936. From 1946 to 1983, it was returned to the Great Western Railway and re-opened as a hotel. It then changed owners again in 1991 when considerable expansion took place and the golf course became a top priority. The 18 hole championship course is now one of England's finest.

The Manor House became Bovey Castle in 2003 and 22 estate lodges, a second restaurant, spa and pool were added, with further refurbishment of the bedrooms undertaken in 2008 by Annabel Elliot and her team.

Bovey Castle became part of the award-winning Eden Hotel Collection in June 2014, joining seven other sister hotels across five counties from Warwickshire down to Devon. Eden Hotel Collection completed a multi million pound refurbishment of the public areas, spa and restaurants in 2015, and relaunched Bovey's new look in June 2015.

In August 2016 Bovey Castle was awarded 5 stars by the AA. View our press release and find out more about our five stars!

The group will continue to invest in Bovey Castle, and aim to make this glorious property the leading resort hotel in the UK.