Category Archives: Hotel History

East Close Hotel – A Wartime Snapshot

1941 In Search of Rest - East Close Hotel Find My Past - Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 14 March 1941

Described in the 1930s and 40s as a “Luxurious Country House Hotel“, the East Close Hotel was thought by hotel reviewer Ashley Courtenay to be “particularly well-furnished and run”. He believed that, “for anyone wanting a restful type of leave, it would be hard to visualise a more peaceful spot”. In 1940, the East Close Hotel was advertised as being “in a particularly beautiful and safe position.” Eighty years on, the building is no longer a hotel; however, it is still a beautiful place and now has a new incarnation as The Retreat.


On 29th September 1939, when the National Register was taken at the start of World War Two, there were five people living at the East Close Hotel.

The first two names on the Register were those of the Proprietor and Proprietress, Frederick B. Fowler, aged 55 and his second wife Evelyn Pleasance Fowler (formerly Oswald), aged 38. Frederick was originally from Sussex and, in his twenties, had worked as a Consulting Engineer. He was a Major in the RAF in World War One.  Frederick married Evelyn in Bath in 1928. In 1929 the couple were living in Winterbourne Monkton and in the early 1930s they lived in Dorchester. In September 1939, Frederick was a Special Constable in the Hampshire Constabulary.

East Close Hotel - Night Time Shot
East Close Hotel – Night Time Shot

Also resident at the East Close Hotel on 29th September 1939 were Miss Lily Agnes Borrow, Mr Eustace O. Hallifax and Mrs Victoria Ethel Grace Colthurst.

Lily Borrow, aged 56, was from Stockton-on-Tees and worked in the hotel as a Bookkeeper-Receptionist. Eustace Hallifax, aged 48  was a guest at the hotel. His occupation was Managing Director in the “Motor Trade”. In 1922, the Hampshire Advertiser named him as the owner the Reliance Motor Garage, St. Cross Road, Winchester. The garage was still in business in 1939 and Mr Hallifax was probably still the owner. Victoria E. G. Colthurst, aged 40, was also staying as a guest at the hotel. Her occupation was “Beauty Specialist”. She and Eustace Hallifax appear, at first glance, to be unattached but they were in fact a couple. They were married in 1945.

Contact Steph Woods to commission a History of your House or Family: fully researched and referenced, written in story-form and illustrated. Read Steph’s other blog posts at Woods for the Trees Blog

East Close Hotel Bedroom

The Chine Hotel, Boscombe – Sun, Sea & the Stage in the late 1930s

Stars of Boscombe Pier & Hippodrome

During the late 1930s, The Chine Hotel was marketed very positively by the “Resident Proprietor”, Mr James Millar, especially in theatrical newspapers, such as The Sphere, The Era and The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. The hotel was much favoured by actors and theatre companies, who dined and stayed at the hotel when they were performing at Boscombe Pier or The Boscombe Hippodrome (now the O2 Academy).

A Culinary Virtuoso

The Sphere 21st March 1936

Many of the ads themselves were theatrical. In 1936, The Sphere carried an advertisement headed “Good Living”, which painted a very romantic and appealing pen picture of the hotel’s ambience: “A glass of sherry and a cigarette before dinner…good company and conversation…colourful, comfortable surroundings and then dinner prepared by a culinary virtuoso. Such is a sample of life at the Chine Hotel.”

One of the Sunniest Hotels...

The Sphere 26th June 1937

The hotel advertised in two very different publications in the summer of 1937: The Sphere (on 26th June) and The Yorkshire Post (on 2nd July). The words are the same. Both describe The Chine Hotel as “one of the sunniest hotels on the South Coast…” but the layout changes the message. The long, lazy style and wavy lines in The Sphere give a much more “laid-back” feel that was presumably more appealing to the less traditional, more artistic set!

A Hotel for Every Season

The Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer 15th October 1937

The Chine Hotel was promoted as the ideal place to stay in every season, especially to people who lived in the colder climes of Scotland and the North East of England: “The Chine maintains at all times of the year a reputation for good food…”. On 3rd September 1937, The Scotsman encouraged readers to take an “Autumn Holiday” at The Chine Hotel with its “four acres of terraced gardens which lead direct to the water’s edge and the Undercliff Drive“. The “Winter?” advertisement in The Yorkshire Post of 15th October  1937 used single-word sentences to confidently extol the luxuries and pleasures to be found at The Chine Hotel and to sell it as the perfect antidote to winter.

Bournemouth’s 1,001 Entertainments

The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News 2nd December 1938

The more dignified ad and article in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of 2nd December 1938 seem to echo the less carefree national mood at a time when increasingly sinister events were taking place on the continent. The hotel is described by Mr Ashley Courtenay as “A Home from Home…” and the emphasis is on the consistency and quality of its food and wine, the long service of the staff, the splendid situation and its accessibility. The ad highlights “Bournemouth’s 1,001 entertainments”.

The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News 2nd December 1938

A more upbeat style is back in February and March of 1939, when a repeated advertisement in The Scotsman is eager to persuade those north of the border that “It will be nice to get into a warm and sunny climate again”.

Visit The Chine Hotel to experience a gorgeous piece of Boscombe’s history first-hand.

Contact Steph Woods to commission a History of your House or Hotel: fully researched and referenced, written and illustrated and leather-bound. Read Steph’s other blog posts at Woods for the Trees Blog