Royal Clarence Hotel fire: Exeter site put up for sale

Royal Clarence Hotel
Image caption The Royal Clarence Hotel was left gutted by the fire

Owners of an 18th Century hotel which was destroyed by a large fire in 2016 have put the site up for sale.

The Royal Clarence Hotel, which was built in 1769 and is one of England's oldest hotels, was left gutted.

Andrew Brownsword Hotels said selling the site in Exeter was a "heartbreaking decision".

But the firm said it could not afford to rebuild the hotel and selling was "the only way to make the rebuild happen quickly and viably".

Fire crews "were faced with a wall of raging fire" according to a report on the blaze which tore through the hotel on 28 October 2016.

The fire service said evidence of how it started was lost when the building next door - where the fire started - collapsed.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Andrew Brownsword Hotels said selling the site was a "heartbreaking decision"

Owner Andrew Brownsword said he was "deeply saddened" to put it up for sale.

But the cost of the demolition, historic restoration and enabling works had been "significant and this has meant that it is regretfully unviable for us to develop the level of hotel that we had envisaged".

"We have explored every avenue and have come to the conclusion that our group is unable to deliver a new hotel, as we had so hoped to do," he added.

Mr Brownsword said it was "now time to seek new owners for the site, in order that the rebuild can progress".

"We thank all the people of Exeter for the patience and support that we have been shown since the night of the fire".

The hotel's landlord in its early days was a Frenchman, Pierre Berlon, who is said to have been the first to apply the word "hotel" to an inn in England.

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