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History of the Hotel
History of the Hotel

The original Hare and Hounds Hotel dates from the early part of the 18th century and was initially a farmhouse. The main hotel building was added in 1928 and maintains the style of the former inn. In 2008 the Hare and Hounds Hotel was purchased by Cotswold Inns and Hotels Ltd, becoming the seventh hotel in their growing portfolio.

The Hare & Hounds Hotel is set in acres of well-tended gardens and woodland, adjacent to the renowned Westonbirt Arboretum and the stunning Westonbirt House now a school for girls. Westonbirt House is the third manor on its site. An Elizabethan house was first acquired by the Holford family when Sir Richard Holford married its owner Sarah Crew in 1665. Their grandson Peter had shares in a company that supplied drinking water to London, which made him a wealthy man - and it was partly thanks to this fortune that his son, George Peter Holford, was able to demolish the Elizabethan manor and build in its place a Georgian house.

His own son, Robert Stayner Holford, in turn tore down the Georgian house to make way for another - the grand Italian Renaissance style mansion that still remains. The project took 15 years to complete and cost a grand total of £200,000.

Holford was also an ardent horticulturist who collected rare plants and shrubs from all over the world. This interest drove him to found what is today the world famous Westonbirt Arboretum on part of his estate. He also took the bold step of moving the village to its current site, to improve his view, and re-routed the public roads. He was thus the architect of the modern local landscape.

When Robert Holford died in 1892, the estate went to his son Sir George Holford. Also a keen horticulturist, he continued his father¹s work on the house and grounds. He died without issue in 1926, leaving the property to his nephew, the Fourth Earl of Morley. Already having another property in Devon, the Earl decided to sell Westonbirt House, and it was acquired by the Martyrs¹ Memorial and Church of England Trust to be transformed into a boarding school for girls, which opened on 11 May 1928.

The world famous Westonbirt Arboretum sits adjacent to the hotel. The first trees in Westonbirt Arboretum were planted in 1829 and it was continuously developed by its owners, the Holford family, until its acquisition in 1956 by the Forestry Commission. This magnificent collection of trees is now open to the public every day of the year and merits a visit at any time. It is at its best in late spring for the flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, and in the autumn when the many maples make a blaze of brilliant colours.

Next door to The Hare and Hounds is the Beaufort Polo Club. Though in it¹s present form only nineteen years old, it is really a revival of a hunt polo club which must have been one of the first if not the first, of the country polo clubs. The old Club was inaugurated in 1872 by Colonel Frank Henry, who had just returned from the ninth Lancers, which was the regiment responsible for bringing the sport of polo to England, and had, just three years previously played the historic polo match against the 10 hussars.

The present Club was formed during the Winter of 1928-1929 by a few members of the Beaufort Hunt under the presidency of the Duke of Beaufort. A suite of rooms at the hotel (since converted) was built to accommodate an Indian Maharajah when he played here.

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