The Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel is one of the most prominent buildings in Llangollen, backing directly onto the river Dee immediately east of the river bridge. The oldest parts of the building are thought to date from the mid-18th century. The hotel is listed in a commercial directory of 1752, when it was called the King’s Head.
The hotel was enlarged in the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, as more and more people visited Llangollen or used it as a resting place on long coach journeys. Evidence of the building’s organic growth is visible today in the varying architectural styles of different sections.
In 1832 Princess Victoria, the future queen, stayed at the King’s Head with her mother, the Duchess of Kent. Consequently it was renamed the King’s Head and Royal Hotel.
The hotel, and others in Llangollen, used to employ harpists to play Welsh airs in the reception area. When the German composer Felix Mendelssohn- Bartholdy (creator of the ubiquitous wedding march) paid a visit to Llangollen in 1829, he was none too complimentary about the local music. He wrote to his family: “A harpist sits in the hall of every reputed inn, playing so-called national melodies incessantly – that is to say, the most infamous, vulgar, out-of-tune rubbish with a hurdy-gurdy going at the same time. It is distracting and has given me a toothache already.”
The First World War was a difficult time for Samuel Richard Johnson, proprietor of the Royal Hotel. Two sons were away on service, as were nine of the hotel’s 17 staff by December 1916, when he applied for the hotel manager, his son Samuel, to be exempted from service. This was refused. In 1917, Samuel suffered a serious illness and was operated on by military surgeons.
With three sons away, Mr Johnson applied in 1917 for hotel servant Evan David Edwards to be exempted from military service, but this was also refused. His son Private Phillip Johnson died of pneumonia at Bedford Military Hospital on 7 November 1918, aged 27, and is named on the town's war memorial, close to the hotel.
Postcode: LL20 8PG