The Bedford Hotel

September 8, 2015 TPC-ADMIN

The Bedford Hotel features strongly in Tavistock’s history and it was a delight to hear this month’s Probus Club talk detailing the history of the hotel. Alex Mettler has spent many years researching this history and he provided members with a life story of one of Tavistock’s architectural centerpieces.

Abbey House, part of the Tavistock Abbey complex, was converted into the Bedford Hotel in 1822. Five years later, a stable block was added to the east and in the early 1830s a new ballroom, designed by John Foulston, was built to provide Tavistock with an elegant venue for social events. Around 1900, a third floor was added and over the following 100 years, the fortunes of the hotel varied greatly.

In 1910, the hotel was taken over by William Lake who added the veranda and a billiards room and subsequently converted the ballroom into bedrooms, losing Tavistock its historic public meeting place. During the following war years, Lake, who was a rather stern gentleman, suffered the indignity of a £2 fine for allowing lights of the hotel to be shown in the blackout.

In 1986 the hotel became part of Trust House Forte whose notable achievement was the closing of the Bedford Bar to the anger of many locals. THF was later taken over by Granada and a period of decline ensued until the Bedford was rescued by its current owner Philip Davies, heralding a new and promising future for the hotel.

Our talk included many anecdotes and old photographs of the hotel taken throughout the 1900s to the present day and gave members an insight into the history, the ownership and the development of this much-loved building.

Mike Edmonds thanked Alex for his fascinating story.  The subject of the October meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “Developing Ethiopia”.  

If you are interested in joining Tavistock Probus Club, please contact the secretary on 01822 615669.


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