The Belgrave Hotel, Tenby
This hotel occupies three former houses. The painter Augustus John was born here in January 1878, when his mother Augusta was lodging here (see below).
The houses, including Belgrave House, were built in the 1870s, extending the row of 1860s buildings which face the sea at South Cliff. In May 1878 a large fire in Belgrave House caused an estimated £4,000 of damage (more than £500,000 today). Rescuers found Joseph Jones, who had been fighting the fire or trying to save furniture, lying under a burning beam. He died from his injuries.
Belgrave House was quickly rebuilt and advertised for sale in November 1878. In 1880 it opened as a “temporary health resort”, complete with resident physician.
In 1883 it became the Ordnance Survey’s regional office, where 40 men were based. Their rugby team played against local clubs. Another blaze broke out in 1885, but the fire brigade’s rapid response rescued Pembrokeshire survey data and maps which had taken years to prepare.
In July 1909 the owners announced that the Belgrave Hotel was now open, “with every convenience and accommodation for visitors”. A telephone was installed the same month.
The hotel eventually expanded to include all three houses at this end of the row. One was added in a swap in the 1960s, after the owners of the Giltar Hotel had acquired the house next to the Belgrave and the Belgrave’s owners acquired the one next to the Giltar!
Augustus John (1878-1961) and his sister Gwen were two of Wales’ greatest painters. The family hailed from Haverfordwest and moved to Tenby after Augusta’s death in 1884. As a young artist, Augustus excelled in portraits. The Canadian government employed him as a war artist in the First World War. He also produced notable landscapes of North Wales and France.
You can see copies of some of his paintings in the top lounge, to the left of the entrance. Please ask at reception if you would like to view the pictures as a non-resident. Follow the link below to see copies of Augustus John paintings in the National Museum Wales collection.
Postcode: SA70 7DU View Location Map
National Museum Wales website – paintings by Augustus John