In its 90 years as a leading resort hotel, the Palace in Babbacombe has seen its fair share of famous names, front page politicians and sports personalities over the years.
Princess Anne, the late Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and TV’s Sue Barker whose professional tennis career blossomed on its courts, have stayed at or visited the hotel which hosted many top flight events and conferences as well as being a holiday venue.
Since the 1920s its gilded ballroom and dining salon has thronged with summer visitors while waiters in dinner jackets have hurried politely between tables.
It started life as seaside home of a controversial bishop. It was built in 1841 by Henry Philpotts, Lord Bishop of Exeter, in 25 acres of grounds.
Bishopstowe was built in the Italianate style comprising nine main bedrooms, 11 servants’ bedrooms and a large shed for washing carriages. The bishop was a powerful figure.
The hotel’s darkest hour was during the war when it was requisitioned as an RAF hospital. In 1942, it was bombed and many killed and injured. It was targeted again in January, 1943. It was not able to open as a hotel again until 1948.
It was not long before the Palace was back on its feet benefiting from the surge of tourism to Torbay in the 1960s and 1970s. It has changed hands many times.
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