Belle Vue, Aberystwyth

The Belle Vue in 2008







Notes on the History of The Belle Vue Hotel, Aberystwyth

dates are in the form day.month.year (e.g. 15.3.1819); NLW = National Library of Wales

The earliest known reference to Belle Vue hotel by name is in 1830.
It was formed by combining several lodging houses on Marine Terrace, near the corner with Terrace Road. Morgan in 1848 says that it consisted of three houses. In 1844, 1851 and 1861 it consisted of numbers 20-21. Number 21 is one of the three houses set back from the line of the prom. It seems that when Jonathan Pell  took it over (by 1864), he moved it along the prom by one house to numbers 21 and 22. It incorporated no 23 (St Anthony’s) and the southern half of Belgrave (no 24) at a later date.
However, census and other lists of occupants (rather than owners) does not support this (see below).

It was definitely the best hotel in town for the gentry and nobility who came to stay for a few days from the 1830s. If they wanted to stay longer they would rent a lodging house, often staying in the Belle Vue or one of the other main inns for the first night. The other inns were the Gogerddan Arms (corner of Great Darkgate Street and Bridge Street) which was probably occupied mostly by people on business, and the Talbot which was in Great Darkgate Street, but was demolished to make way for the new Market Street in 1830 where a new Talbot Inn was built. It is possible that the Belle Vue was created at this time, to take advantage of the hiatus between demolition and rebuilding of the Talbot.

The Belle Vue probably took trade away from the Gogerddan Arms and the Talbot in the form of large celebratory meals (more likely to have been attended by men only) which were recorded in newspapers of the time. It also hosted a number of public functions.

No old plans of the building are known to survive.

The collection of Corporation deeds in Ceredigion Archives,
box no 28 (Ceredigion Archives, ABM/SE/4/2/3, for the years 1813-1894) contain leases relating to the plot on which the Belle Vue was established.
type                       from                                      to                                            date
abstract                                                                                                                        1893-1928
lease                       Corporation                            William Henry Palmer           17.11.1893
mortgage               Palmer, W.H.,                        Mrs Jane Parry                        14.12.1893
assignment           George Edwards,                   Belle Vue Hotel Ltd.,              1928
surrender              Belle Vue Hotel (Aberystwyth) Ltd., Corporation               26.2.1946
Box 32 contains
agreement           Corporation                            Belle Vue Hotel, Aberystwyth    13.2. 1946
(7 Victoria Street, London)

Land ownership
All the flat land outside the walls of the mediaeval town, between Alexander Road, Chalybeate Street, Baker Street, Marine Terrace and North Road was owned by the Corporation. They began to lease it for building plots at the very end of the 18th century, and did so, as part of a large well-planned extension to the old town from 1808.

The land on which the Belle Vue stands built was originally leased by the Aberystwyth Corporation on the 10.10.1815 (as recorded in later leases) and re-leased by them on 5.8.1884 to W. H. Palmer with Cobourg House for 75 years. It was re-leased again on the 17th October, 1893, backdated to 12.11.1889. The new rental in 1893 was £38.16.9 plus £2 ground rent (one of the highest ground rents in the town).

The date of 10.10.1815 may represent the date of the completion of the original lodging houses which later comprised the Belle Vue. The leases were often granted on condition that the building was completed within a specified period, often three years, and it seems likely that the deed wasn’t actually signed until the conditions were met, but in this case, the properties were not an inn or hotel.
Aberystwyth Town Council Minutes, 17.10.1893. Ceredigion Archives, ABM/SE/1/2

The (incomplete) list of people known to have been living in the three buildings which appear to have formed part of the original hotel is rather confusing and suggests that they were not part of one establishment.

                                           no 20 Marine Terrace    no 21 Marine Terrace    no 22 Marine Terrace
1841 census                           Charles Marshall
1848                                       Charles Marshall
1849                                       Charles Marshall               Charles Marshall               Daniel Lewis
1854                                       Charles Marshall               Charles Marshall               David Lewis
1858                                       Charles Marshall               Charles Marshall               Mary Jones
1861 Census                          Belle Vue                             Belle Vue                             Mary Jones
1871 directory                       Ann Nichols
1871 census                           Jonathan Pell                     Anne Nicholls                    Anne Jenkins
1875                                        Margaret & Mary Watkins
1880                                       Margaret & Mary Watkins
1881 census                          Margaret Watkins            Edward Hames                  Edward Hames
1884                                       Margaret Watkins
1891 census                          Elizabeth Roberts             Edward Dabbs                   Edward Dabbs

Drawings and photographs
The façade of the Belle Vue appears in many drawings, paintings and photographs of Aberystwyth as a small part of Marine Terrace. It is easily identified by the two gables that face the sea.

Royal Belle Vue
The Belle Vue was sometimes prefaced by the word ‘Royal’. It is likely that this was added because it was the inn at which the Royal Mail coaches arrived and left. There is no evidence that any member of the Royal family stayed there (if they had it would have been copiously reported in local and national papers).
In 1844 the King of Saxony came to Aberystwyth. One of his staff kept a diary of the trip, in which he recorded the following:

It was, however, nearly dark when we reached this watering place, where unfortunately the inn was nearly all occupied by tourists, so that it was not till after some trouble we could obtain lodgings, which we did at last in one of the neighbouring houses. As a sort of compensation for this, a serenade was given to the illustrious guest, who was soon recognised – [in] spite of his incognito, and at a late hour of the night, ‘God Save the Queen’ was sung.
Other evidence in the diary suggests that the inn that was full was the Belle Vue.
Carus, Carl Gustav, The King of Saxony’s journey through England and Scotland in the year 1844, (London, 1846)
[This contrasts somewhat with a newspaper account of the visit]
ABERYSTWYTH.- His Majesty the King of Saxony arrived here on Wednesday evening, the 10th instant, and proceeded to the Belle Vue “Royal” Hotel, where his majesty was received, and conveyed to a splendidly furnished set of apartments prepared for his reception at the Brunswick House, No. 40, on the Terrace. He supped early, and retired to bed. On Thursday morning, at 7 o’clock, himself and suite were parading the Terrace, and at eight o’clock his  majesty was waited on by the mayor, and aldermen, of the borough, who were graciously and courteously received, and to whom he expressed himself much pleased and gratified by the cleanly and romantic appearance of the town on which his majesty was pleased to pass many encomiums of justly deserved praise. At 9 o’clock he sat down to breakfast at the Belie Vue Royal Hotel, when the Italian and German bands struck up one of the Anglo-Saxon national airs, and continued playing till the king and his suite were prepared to set off. As soon as the horses were put to the carriages, the authorities of the town, and the representatives of the different clubs and societies formed themselves into two lines, whose greetings were reciprocally returned the king. The streets through which his majesty was to pass were densely lined with people. The carriages slowly moved on, amidst the hearty cheering of the warm hearted Britons, the waving of banners, and the firing of cannon the bands were playing a German version of “God save the King.” His majesty appeared in good spirits, and departed from Aberystwyth, returning an acknowledgment for the kind manner in which the people had received him.
Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 19 July 1844

The Belle Vue is not mentioned in the 1824 Guide, which lists only the Talbot, the Gogerddan Arms and the Old Black Lion.
Prichard, T.J. Ll., (1824), The new Aberystwyth Guide, p. 4

The landlord of the Talbot possesses several houses – the new built one [Belle Vue?], fronting the sea, is his as an appendage; to which he sends his company when the Talbot is full, and I hear that it answers well to him.
Diary of Mrs and Miss Beecroft, Cardiff Central Library, 2.325, Wednesday June 20th 1827

Belle Vue run by Edward Evans
Pigot, (1830), Directory, p. 819

The Belle Vue mentioned in the diary of an anonymous visitor in 1830
Cardiff Central Library, MS 1.675, p. 37

Lodged at the Belle Vue, and excellent house
Forbes, J.D., Tour of Wales, 1830, University of St Andrews Library, Deposit M, Box no 1.9, p. 65

1830 (about)
Belle Vue hotel commands a charming view of the bathing machines and consequently the belles using them and I suppose is the reason why it is so called.
Foley, Edward, Captain of Ridgeway, Pembrokeshire, Tours of Cheshire, Caernarfon, Denbigh, Merioneth, Flint and Cardigan and Liverpool about 1830, NLW R.K.Lucas Papers nos 1951-4

Recommended to the Belle Vue Hotel, facing the sea. We drove there, and were with some little difficulty accommodated, the house being all in a … from the races.
NLW MSS 6685C (Anon, p. 39)

The Belle Vue Hotel where I now write this deserves to be noticed for its superior accommodations besides it eligible situation on the grand parade, facing the wide world of waters.
Marsh, John Henry, (Cicestra), ‘Tour through south and north Wales; in 1831’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 3.589              

We dined early at three o’clock and at half past four we left Aberystwyth perfectly satisfied with the excellent entertainment we had met with at the Belle Vue. The charges were higher than at Tenby, but the accommodations here were vastly superior in every respect.
Anon, A Journal of a Tour in Wales, &c., NLW MSS 6685C

The Collegian. New coach from the Belle Vue hotel, Aberystwyth to Brecon via Llandovery.
The Cambrian (Newspaper) : 09.6.1832

The ruinous old castle of Aberystwyth flanks the crescent at one end, and a splendid new hotel terminates it at the other [presumably the Belle Vue], the intermediate houses being handsome lodgings, all apparently occupied, and every window peopled with gay parties, who seemed as if they were enjoying a perpetual jubilee. The inn being crowded, we had no immediate prospect of dinner, for landlords have unluckily not yet adopted the Irishman’s expeditious plan, who wished to be so rapid in feeding his guests, that he planted potatoes ready boiled, hoping that they might come up hot and ready for eating.
Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864) Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1833
1st edition, New York, 1838
2nd  Edition, Whyte and Co,  Edinburgh, 1839, 462 pp

From the Belle Vue and the Gogerddan Arms two or three coaches run weekly to Worcester, Hereford and Shrewsbury during the summer, but in the winter to the latter place only.
Leigh , Guide to Wales and Monmouthshire, 3rd Edition, 1835, p. 51

Sunday 27th August.
Arrived at 11.30; went to the Belle Vue, which is charmingly situated opposite the sea. They are so full that they could not take me in to sleep, but billeted me on a lodging house called Cambridge House [15 Marine Terrace].
Monday 28th August.
At the Belle Vue the harper came every day at 1 and played incessantly till 10 at night.
Rev Joseph Romilly’s Tour of Wales, 1837, Edited by Rev M.G.R. Morris, Llandysul, 1998

In 1835 Edward Evans ran the Belle Vue, but by 1840, Charles Marshall, (formerly from Devon) and his wife Elizabeth took it over. Charles ran it until his death in November 1858, after which Elizabeth continued to run it until about 1864. She died in July 1876 aged 80.
Benjamin, E. A., (1985), Footprints on the Sands of Time, p. 19

Paid Edward Evans, Belle Vue Hotel for luncheons, post horses, parcels etc for 1837 and 1838
NLW Nanteos Rentals, R71

Almost immediately on our arrival at Aberystwyth we were gratified for the first time since our arrival in Wales by hearing the Welsh harp so celebrated for the beauty of its tomes and so appropriated to the wild and mountainous district in which it prevails.
The harp was played at our Hotel by a round faced hearty looking Welsh man and it certainly made a very favourable impression on my mind.’
Horace, Francis, Journal of a tour 1837, NLW MSS 11596B, p. 229 – 235

Charles Marshall of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel begs to inform his friends and those who have so kindly bestowed their patronage on him during the present season, that he has fixed his house-warming dinner on Wednesday 28th October at 4.0 p.m. Tickets including wine and desert £1.1.0.
An advert for September 26th, 1840

Belle Vue – House warming dinner for new Proprietor, C Marshall.
Demetian Mirror, 17.10.1840

In the evening a grand dinner was given in the Belle Vue Hotel – a magnificent building with indifferent fare, worse attendance and high charges.
Anon, ‘Welsh Journal, 1841’ NLW MS 748B, p. 89-90

22 servants

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle arrived at the Belle Vue Hotel on Monday evening, and proceeded on to the Devil’s Bridge and Hafod on Tuesday morning. The Earl and Countess Amherst are at present staying at the Belle Vue Hotel.  Mr and Mrs Hobson, after a sojourn of six weeks, left the Belle Vue Hotel for Syston Court, near Bristol, on Wednesday.
Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 20 September 1844

ABERYSTWYTH.—In consequence of St. David’s Day falling on Saturday, that being the market day in Aberystwyth, the members of the St. David’s Tradesmen’s Club adjourned their annual meeting until Tuesday, the 4th inst., when they met in the Belle Vue Royal Hotel. About fifty, including guests, sat down to a most sumptuous dinner, provided for them by the worthy host and hostess, Mr and Mrs Marshall.
Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 7 March 1845

ABERYSTWITH. H Bold Houghton, Esq., owner of the Hafod estate, (eldest son of Sir H Bold Houghton, Bart., of Lancashire), and his youthful bride, who were married on Thursday last, arrived at the Belle Vue Hotel, which is now quite full.
Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser, 22 August 1845

The Belle Vue is situate on the Marine terrace, and is conducted by Mr Charles Marshal, late of Cheltenham; it consists of three houses thrown into one, connected in suits of apartments adapted for large or small families, and enjoying all the advantages of an uninterrupted sea view. Attached is a spacious and commodious coffee-room; like-wise a commercial room. The Offices close at hand comprise lock-up coach houses, and excellent stabling. [Also] attached is a well conducted posting department, and also a coach office.
Morgan, T.O., (1848), New Guide to Aberystwyth and its Environs, p. 18-19

Death announcement
On 21.11.1858, at Aberystwith, Charles Marshall, aged 65, Belle Vue Royal hotel.
The Cambrian (Newspaper) : 03.12.1858
A daughter of Charles Marshall married Jonathan Pell of the Queen’s Hotel, who later acquired the Belle Vue

Company number : 250C
Public Record Office, BT31/751/250C

The official opening of the Railway Station. A dinner was held at the Belle Vue in the evening to mark the event.
Aberystwyth Observer, 23.7.1864, 30.7.1864

By 1864, Jonathan Pell had taken it over and he ran it until between 1875 and 1880. It seems likely that he extended it immediately, in the year the railway arrived in Aberystwyth.
Will o Wispers, Cambrian News

A clock was presented to David Davies, who built the Manchester and Milford Railway to Aberystwyth at a dinner for his navvies in the Belle Vue, Aberystwyth. ‘Beer was supplied in abundance but not a man disgraced himself’ and one of the workmen made the presentation of the clock for which they had collected £40.
The Welshman, 16.August, 1867
The clock is in Ceredigion Museum

Indenture, being a surrender from Jonathan Pell of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel, Aberystwyth, innkeeper (by the direction of Elizabeth Marshall of the same town, widow) to the Rt Hon. Ernest Augustus, Earl of Lisburne, of a lease for 21 years (granted on 1 Sept. 1848 by the said Earl to Charles Marshall of Aberystwyth, innkeeper) of a farm called Glanystwith Farm, in the parish of Llanfihangel-y-Croyddin, Cardiganshire.  It recites that the said Charles Marshall deceased 21 Nov. 1858 and by his Will appointed Thomas Jones and Charles Maitland Thomson, esq., executors, who renounced the executorship, and administration was granted to the said Elizabeth Marshall, who relinquished her interest in the said lease to the said Jonathan Pell. Ser. II, No. 1,277.

Lease (counterpart) for 21 years from the Rt. Hon. Ernest Augustus, Earl of Lisburne, to Jonathan Pell of the Belle Vue Royal Hotel, Aberystwyth, innkeeper, of the farm called Glanystwyth Farm (305 a., 2 r., 35 p.), p. Llanfihangel-y-Croyddin, co. Card. Yearly rent, £225.

..The Hotel has been enlarged and a Billiard, Smoking and Chess Room added to the establishment… An omnibus meets every train.
Morgan, T. O., (1869), New Guide to Aberystwyth and its Environs, advert, p. 167

The Belle Vue Royal Hotel occupies a position on the Marine Terrace, midway between the Promenade Pier and the Bath’s House. It commands by its position, a full view of Cardigan Bay, the sight starting from the Carnarvon Hills…This hotel, which enjoys a deservedly general reputation for elegance and comfort, is managed by the proprietor, Mr Jonathan Pell. It contains elegantly fitted ladies and gentleman’s Coffee Rooms, Commercial Room, Billiard Room, and 60 Bed-rooms. An extensive Posting Establishment is attached to the Hotel.
Morgan, T. O., (1869), New Guide to Aberystwyth and its Environs, p. 16

Owner Jonathan Bell, 70 bedrooms
Anon, (1874), Morgan’s New Guide to Aberystwyth and Neighbourhood, p. 10

Leased by Edward Hamer, the Managing director of the Manchester and Milford Railway for £300 per annum. He was told that it would make a profit of between £700-800 but he only made £153 in 1882. He sold the business in 1884 and sold the furniture for much less than it have been valued at by the previous vendor of the hotel, so he took him to court and was awarded compensation.
Will o Wispers, Cambrian News

Under New Management
This old established County House possesses comfort not to be surpassed at any Hotel on the Welsh Coast. It embraces spacious and elegant COFFEE and DINING ROOMS for Ladies and Gentlemen, Drawing and Private Sitting Rooms, also a large and well-appointed COMMERCIAL ROOM, all of which face the Sea. Elegant Billiard Room, (2 Tables). Smoking and Chess Rooms.
The Wines and Spirits are of the best and oldest Vintages and Brands.
Hot and Cold Luncheons Daily on Shortest Notice.
Agent for ALLSOPP & SONS’ Fine Burton Ales.
Casks at Brewer s prices delivered.
Cambrian News 7.10.1881

Thomas Hicking was described as its manager in 1880; Edward Hamer ran it from 1881 and in June, 1883, it appears that he was given dispensation for paying his rates for which he had a good reason. This implies that he owned it or at least sub leased it.
In 1884 W. H. Palmer leased the Belle Vue from the Council with Cobourg House for 75 years. Does this suggest that Hamer was in some financial trouble and it was taken over by Palmer who wanted to renegotiate the lease?
By 1891, Edward Dabbs was running it. (He may have been the manager).
Will o Wispers, Cambrian News

H. Palmer managed the Queen’s Hotel and the Belle Vue. He was a Town Councillor and was elected mayor in 1891.

The Captain of the Fire Brigade (Robert Peake) reported that there had been three fires in the town – Edwards (Terrace Road), Brunswick House (Portland Street), and the Belle Vue.
Aberystwyth Town Council Minutes, 2.4.1889 Ceredigion Archives

In 1934, it seems to have become a Limited Company known as the Belle Vue Hotels Ltd, which was also responsible for the Ivy Bush, Carmarthen and Lion Hotel, Machynlleth and had a managing director – Marion Edwards. By 1947 it had been taken over by Hancocks brewers and during the 1950s it was run by D. C. James and R. C. Edmonds.
Will o Wispers, Cambrian News

For some time during the Second World War, the Belle Vue was occupied by RAF pilots, some of whom drew on the wall pictures of aircraft, cartoons of pilots and astronomical maps and a chart showing the wingspans of aircraft.
Photos in Ceredigion Museum

Sold to Hotel Metropole, Llandrindod Wells
Will o Wispers, Cambrian News