Sympathetic rebuild promised after Exeter’s Royal Clarence Hotel destroyed in fire

ONE of the oldest hotels in the country has been devastated by a huge fire in the shadow’s of Exeter Cathedral.

The Royal Clarence hotel in Exeter city centre has been reduced to just a shell with the remains due to be demolished.

The blaze at the 18th century hotel, which was owned by boutique hotel chain Abode, was reported to the local fire brigade shortly after 5am on Friday 28th October.

150 firefighters were called upon to tackle the blaze at its height, with all hotel guests and staff safely evacuated.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Lee Howell said: “This was an intense fire affecting several historically important buildings in the heart of the city. The complex nature of the building construction, especially the roof structure, made this a very difficult incident to deal with.

“I am very proud of the efforts of our firefighting, control, officer and support staff, many of whom worked extremely hard for extended periods of time without complaining during what were very challenging circumstances.

“It was an incredible effort by firefighters to stop the fire spreading to other heritage buildings on the High Street. Due to the period in which the buildings were constructed, the gap between the back of the hotel and the adjacent properties was very narrow and the fire was threatening to bridge the gap and spread further.

“To prevent that from happening took courage and skill and they should all take credit that they did everything they could to stop the spread of the fire.”

Andrew Brownsword, owner of aBode, said in a statement “The Royal Clarence has long been a special place for us all, and to see the building now is heartbreaking.

“Looking to the future of The Royal Clarence, we have every intention to rebuild the hotel with enormous sympathy to its importance and heritage, and to make it once again a building the City of Exeter can be proud of.”

Photo: Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Services

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