The Royal Hotel

The hotel was built around the middle of the 17th century, in the Jacobean style, comprising a Coaching Inn with stabling, some of which still exists and was on two levels. It was originally called the White Hart Inn.

In 1835 a young junior reporter for the Morning Chronicle stayed at the hotel whilst visiting Kettering to cover the 1835 by-election, called after the sudden death of Northamptonshire North Whig MP Viscount Milton. The candidates were Conservative Thomas Maunsell and Whig William Hanbury. The fight was a dirty one, with both parties claiming certain success and throwing around accusations of voter intimidation and encouraging inebriation among the electorate. On the morning of the poll, he wrote: “the noise and confusion here … is so great that my head is splitting … the voters … are drinking and guzzling and howling and roaring in every house of entertainment there is”. Journalists were forced to retreat to his room at the White Hart, and they later hired a carriage to take them to Boughton House, where they enjoyed an evening of hospitality before escaping to Northampton. That reporter was none other than Charles Dickens.

In 1884, following a visit by Queen Victoria who happened to stop off at the hotel on her way to and from Burghley house in Stamford, the hotel changed its name to the Royal Hotel, celebrating the visit by the Queen.

In 1878 the hotel was rebuilt by its owner, the Duke of Buccleuch who retained it until he sold it to brewers Pickering, Phipps and Co in 1896. In the 70s and 80s the hotel also was home to Bertie’s nightclub in the space underneath the hotel, becoming The Vaults in the 90s.

Researched by David Brown

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