AXMINSTER’S historic George Hotel building has been sold and will be returned to its former glory by new owner South Coast Inns Ltd.
After years of standing empty and earning a growing reputation as an eyesore, a new owner has eventually been found for the building.
South Coast Inns Ltd confirmed last Friday to Pulman’s Weekly News that it had bought the building.
They also issued a statement over the weekend, saying: “Axminster’s historic George Hotel has been purchased by the hotel, pub and restaurant operator South Coast Inns Ltd, based in Sussex.
“With a range of properties within their portfolio, and years of experience operating and refurbishing landmark historic buildings, the company is confident The George represents an exciting project to refurbish and operate.
“Husband and wife team Christopher and Delia Chapman aim to recreate its rich historical past, bringing back to life a building that so many in the area have memories of, whilst not forgetting many of the historical figures that have stayed there.
“It is said that in pre-Georgian times such grandees as the Earl of Monmouth and his supporters were there.
“Judge Jefferies spent a few nights there and Oliver Cromwell also had his troops and his headquarters at the old George when he was suppressing the Monmouth rebellion.
“In Georgian times Lord Nelson slept there and King George III wined and dined in the Adam Room before visiting the house of Thomas Whitty, founder of the now world famous Axminster Carpets.
“Plans include the reinstatement of the hotel bedrooms, ground floor bar and dining areas designed around the rich historical past that the George has.
“The company operates the Green Dragon in Wellington, the George Hotel in Crewkerne (which is undergoing extensive refurbishment) and hotels such as Angmering Manor in Sussex, Roundabout Hotel in West Chiltington and the Angel Hotel Coleford.
“Work is scheduled to start subject to planning and licensing consents being granted.”
The Mayor of Axminster Cllr Jeremy Walden said: “I welcome the fact that it has been sold.
“I hope it will be an asset to the town, both in the way how it looks and the way it will become part of the community of the town.
“Any assistance that the town council or I can give to bring their [the buyers’] plans to fruition, we will gladly give.”
District councillor Andrew Moulding, who has been nominated to sit on an East Devon District Council-led regeneration board for Axminster, said: “I’m overjoyed that someone has taken it over and will bring it back to use is great news for the town. I very much welcome the news.”
The George Hotel’s most recent tenant left in late 2008, and there has been no commercial activity since.
The building was sold in 2010 but the new owner put it on the market some time ago.
At one stage, Axminster Property, a division of Axminster Tool and Machinery Ltd, revealed it had looked at the site with a particular client in mind, and shared an architect’s impression online.
This was followed by an alternative design with a different scheme in mind.