Some history of the Kings Arms hotel

The Kings Arms dates from 1801 and was built by George Rose of Christchurch who was Member of Parliament for the Town between 1796 and 1818. It was built on the site of the Old Kings Arms Inn which had stood for about one hundred years. The Hotel opened in 1802 and was known as Humby’s after the first landlord, one Thomas Humby. He shared the running of the Hotel with his wife Miriam. When Thomas died in 1820 Miriam took over the business. Their son Walter William Humby also went into the hotel trade and opened the Sandford Hotel in Mudeford in 1835.

The Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch, Dorset. Photo by Andy Miller

At this time Mudeford was an exclusive resort for the rich and famous. King George 111, who was a close friend of George Rose, had visited Mudeford and his daughter Princess Caroline had stayed at Sandhills, his marine villa. With such elevated connections when Walter opened his hotel in Mudeford there was probably a strong body of opinion that wanted the name Mudeford changed to the more pleasant sounding Sandford!

Humby’s Hotel would have been the obvious venue in which to hold the social gatherings for these aristocratic visitors. The diary of Ann Smith (nee Barrow) reports that; “Near to Christchurch is a resort for sea bathing called Muddiford, here were Lords, Baronets and a host of the nobility of England. There were members of both Houses of Parliament and there were dozens of them.”

Two years after Walter Humby opened the Sandford Hotel his mother died and he returned to Christchurch to take over the family hotel. Walter Humby was made Mayor in 1847 and no doubt his establishment was the place for all official functions.

On January 24th 1856 The Kings Arms was the venue for a celebratory luncheon in honour of Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, a famous son of Christchurch. Lyons had been born in Burton and had risen to command the Black Sea fleet during the Crimean War.

Walter Humby ran The Kings Arms for 20 years but by 1857 he had decided to sell and the Hotel was bought by Nicholas Newlyn. Walter Humby did not enjoy a long retirement and he died in 1858. Not surprisingly the Hotel now became known as Newlyn’s. Nicholas Newlyn was also Mayor of Christchurch in 1873 and 1874. The Hotel continued as the premier entertainment establishment for official and social functions in the Town, a role which it enjoyed for another 100 years.