Many people visit Langtry Manor purely as a boutique hotel or a fine dining restaurant. Not everyone knows the history behind the ornate Edwardian decadence and the ambience which hits you when you walk into the hotel. Proud of our rich history and Royal connections, we like to commemorate our colourful past with a weekly monologue on the life of Lillie which takes place during the Edwardian banquet.
For those of you who aren’t entirely familiar with the story of how it all began…
Emily Charlotte Le Breton was born in October of 1853 on the Isle of Jersey, she was said to be as outgoing and outspoken as her five brothers. As a girl she had many admirers and married Edward Langtry with whom she moved to London. Soon after, Lillie met the artist Millais at a social engagement where he asked her to sit for a portrait. The painting launched Lillie’s career as a professional beauty and actress. Lillie was soon keeping the company of prominent figures such as Oscar Wilde, and Prime Ministers Disraeli and Gladstone. The Prince of Wales requested a meeting with her. The attraction was instant and although the Prince was already married to Alexandra, their affair blossomed and Edward offered to build her a house away from London and the glare of society. He bought a plot of land in a secluded area of Bournemouth’s East Cliff and let her design a home for them. The house was then named The Red House, and is now known as Langtry Manor.
The house has little pieces of Lillie all over it, and these features were restored and preserved by The Howard Family who have owned the hotel for the past 35 years. Mrs Howard bought the hotel and made it her labour of love, along with her children Denham, John, Miles and Tara. She carefully transformed the house back to its original splendour and it became Langtry Manor Hotel as we know it today. Over the past 35 years the family have run the business as a team. Tara Howard is now the Managing Director, Miles hosts the weekend packages, and Tara’s children work in the restaurant.
The house retains many items of interest, such as the inglenook fireplace in the Kings Room, surrounded by tiles depicting scenes of Shakespeare. The tapestries in the restaurant, and the swan themed stained glass window all remain on display. There is a miniature museum showcasing a collection of artefacts from the life of Lillie Langtry, and even an etching in a glass window, scratched by Lillie’s own diamond ring. There are so many reasons this little slice of history is known locally as Bournemouth’s “hidden gem.” Not only do we offer exquisite service, we like guests to have an experience unlike any other. Pay us a visit; we guarantee you’ll be glad you did.