History

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 Viscount Hambleden’s son, Frederick, who built the manor house in a lavish neo-Elizabethan style to serve 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 (a junior officer in the British army) 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, was 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. The property and estate were 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, designed by J F Abercromby, 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 and underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment of the public areas, spa and restaurants in 2015.

In August 2016, Bovey Castle was awarded 5 stars by the AA and in April 2017 all 59 bedrooms underwent refurbishment by award-winning interior design practice NH Interiors, alongside the Eden Hotel Collection’s Design Director, Marian Cartter.

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