MEM23841 - Exmoor Forest Hotel (Building)


The hotel is shown on historic mapping and was previously known as the William Rufus Hotel and Refreshment House. In the early 20th Century, it also contained the Temperance Hotel.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A large building is depicted on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey map at SS 7733 3928 and labelled William Rufus Hotel. [1] The building is again shown on the 2nd Edition map, although it had been extended (although subdivided off) somewhat to the rear (northeast). At that time, it was labelled the Exmoor Forest Hotel. [2] The hotel is depicted on modern mapping and is still known as the Exmoor Forest Hotel. [3] The hotel was originally known as the Refreshment House before becoming the William Rufus in 1887. In 1901, it was named the Exmoor Forest Hotel. For a time it was split into two, with the part nearest the road being the Temperence Hotel, until reunited in 1909. [4] Simonsbath Farm was licenced and frequented as an inn in 1814 but this appears to have lapsed when John Knight occupied the house himself. The village seems to have been without an inn until 1855, when an existing house was licenced, possibly to cater for the new miners in the community. Robert Smith had apparently drawn up plans for "a Splended Hotell from the Premeses now used as workshops", while the inn would revert to a shop but this never happened. The first tenant was troublesome and so on Lady Day 1856 the tenancy was transferred to Samuel Gifford, who hoped to have an oven installed and to bake there. Henry Scale applied for leave to erect a shop in July 1856 and as a result, a bakery built of wood and felt was constructed adjoining the inn and let to Gifford for £10 a year. There was, however, a disagreement shortly after and Gifford left. Scale was released from the responsibility of the shop in 1858 and the bakehouse was since run with the inn. Gifford resumed possession until 1860, followed by John Hosking, then Robert Holcombe in 1862 and James Fry in 1866, who was both grocer and landlord of the Simonsbath Inn. The sale of beer and spirits was stopped by Frederic Knight in around 1873, when the inn became a "refreshment house" (licenced for wine only). Beer was, however, brewed in more than one of the Forest farmhouses for home consumption. James Fry "helped when the additions were made, by hauling the materials in the year 1878" and became prosperous by the end of the century. The inn became The William Rufus Hotel in 1895; there was a legend that Exmoor had been afforested by William Rufus seven hundred years before. After further improvements became The Exmoor Forest Hotel in 1903 and in 1933 the tenant (Mrs Mary H Elworthy) was granted a full licence. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap.
  • <4> Monograph: Binding, H., Pearce, B. and Pugsley, S.. 2001. Exmoor Century: A century of change through fascinating historic and contemporary photographs of Exmoor. Exmoor Books. 146.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Unknown. Unknown. "Exmoor Forest Hotel", Simonsbath, Devon.
  • <6> Monograph: Orwin, C.S. + Sellick, R.J.. 1970. The Reclamation of Exmoor Forest. David and Charles Limited. 2nd Edition. 233-4,298.



Grid reference Centred SS 7733 3929 (32m by 28m) (MasterMap)
Map sheet SS73NE

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Other Statuses/References

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Record last edited

Nov 7 2018 9:35AM


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