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The Song of the Swan

Cover  -  Introduction  -  Chapter 1  - Chapter 2  -  Chapter 3  -  Chapter 4 
Chapter 5   -   Chapter 6   -   Chapter 7   -   Pictures

Chapter 3

The last of the Shutts to own the Swan Hotel was Isaac Thomas, a man of parts. He became a founder director of the present company which bought and redeveloped the estate. Though destined for the hotel business, he had trained as an architect and surveyor and had the satisfaction of seeing his plans and design for the new Royal Pump Room (the Sulphur Well) accepted and implemented by the Improvement Commissioners in sight of the hotel at the entrance to what are now the Valley Gardens.

The original cupola was removed and now covers the Tewit Well on the Stray.

The success story of the old Swan Hotel is a story of romance and true love applied by man and wife to a hotel and of the patrons they enjoyed welcoming, making comfortable, and cosseting in a family atmosphere.

The man Isaac Thomas Shutt had married the daughter of Thackwray's successor at the Crown, Ann Staning, long remembered for her beauty and gentle nature. For nearly 25 years, with their large and growing family, they served as a model for the Victorian success story. The husband gave the town public service as a Commissioner and professional service as an architect. The Royal Pump Room (without the added waiting room) - where Betty Lupton, procuress extraordinary, dispensed the health giving waters for so many years, in bonnet and voluminous apron, saying "Sile it through your teeth ladies" to initiate taking their first doses of the medicine - serves as a fitting memorial to that era of gracious living exemplified by the Shutts of the Swan.

Isaac Thomas put his younger brother into Oakdale Farm to grow supplies for the hotel, and to manage his stock breeding interests. In 1856, a shorthorn was sold to Australia and in 1866 he sold a horse he had bred, called "Commissioner", for 2,000, a tidy sum in those days. Our hotelier / architect was also an influential estate agent, but, above all, he was a sportsman; he kept his own pack of harriers in the hotel stables, and he was Master of the Harrogate Beagles, a tradition which the new Old Swan Hotel has maintained to' this day in proud association with the Claro Beagles and the Bramham Moor Hunt who meet on the lawn on the Saturday nearest to New Year's Day every year.

The former Swan Hotel with its four acres of land in the heart of the spa area had been sold in 1878 to a company formed that year, The Harrogate Hydropathic Company, whose object was to build on the site a replica of Dr. Smedley's Hydropathic in Matlock, Derbyshire, The story of the following one hundred years is a cameo of Britain's social history and Harrogate's eminence as the country's premier inland resort and floral spa.

Author's notes :


a The old building can be identified by looking south from the back corridor, note the different windows and stone corbels, it was two storeys high.

b The Mansard roof, added later as a third storey of bedrooms, is of considerable architectural interest and caused the building as a whole to be entered as a listed building.

(2) The old cellars are sometimes used for wine tastings.

(3) The oil paintings by Dendy Sadler, "The Popular Candidate", and George Wright's two coaching scenes, hunting and driving trophies, and an old coaching board may be seen in "The Swan Inn" Tudor bar in the hotel.

(4) There is a small collection of pewter plates from Ripon Minster.

(5) The Yew tree at the north west corner of the hotel is reckoned to be more than 200 years old.

(6) The younger beautiful copper beech, which stood like a crinoline on the front lawn for many years was blown down in the gales of 1975. It had been planted in 1879 with the nearby Cedar of Lebanon.

(7) The entrance hall contains an old hooded chair for the porter, a court cupboard (1738), a refectory table (1675) and a Grandfather Clock by J R Ogden (1878).




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