Nestled off the serpentine coastline of England’s South West Peninsula, the Burgh Island Hotel stands as a living testament to centuries of history, glamour, and cultural metamorphosis. From its notorious days of being a haven for smugglers to its transformation into a glamorous retreat for film stars and writers, this iconic hotel has seen it all. As the Christmas season approaches, let’s delve into the rich tapestry of the Burgh Island Hotel, exploring its captivating history and the enchanting festivities planned for this year.
A Smuggler’s retreat: 1336 Pilchard Inn and Tom Crocker’s Ghost
Centuries ago, the rugged cliffs and hidden coves of Devon made it a haven for pirates and smugglers, and Burgh Island was no exception. The island’s 1336 Pilchard Inn stands as a mischievous nod to this illicit past, with a resident smuggler, Tom Crocker, who, even in death, hasn’t left the island for nearly 700 years. Legends of Tom’s ghost searching for his missing cargo come to life every year on Tom Crocker Day, a local community celebration on August 14th.
The Roaring 1920s: Archibald Nettlefold and the birth of Burgh Island Hotel
In the 1920s, the island witnessed a shift from rugged smuggling to the glitz and glamour of the Art Deco era. Film director Archibald Nettlefold purchased the island in 1927, envisioning it as a venue for lavish parties. The resulting Grade II listed Burgh Island Hotel, with its playful Art Deco architecture and a ship-shaped design on the south side, became a hub for the social elite, hosting extravagant events that lasted for weeks. Sounds like our kind of parties…
Agatha Christie’s secret haven: The 1930s-40s
The 1930s brought another layer of intrigue to Burgh Island as famed detective writer Agatha Christie found solace on its shores. Using the island as a secret writing retreat, Christie penned two of her iconic novels, “And Then There Were None” and “Evil Under the Sun,” drawing inspiration from the juxtaposition of the island’s picturesque beauty and its rugged cliffs. Guests can now follow in Christie’s footsteps with a stay at Agatha’s Beach House and experience the author’s influence throughout the hotel.
From political meetings to The Beatles: 1940s-60s
During the mid-20th century, Burgh Island played host to a diverse array of guests, from political figures like Edward VIII and Winston Churchill to cultural icons like The Beatles. Requisitioned as a medical facility during the war, the hotel witnessed historic meetings between Churchill and American President Dwight Eisenhower, adding another layer to its storied past.
The Great White Palace: 1980s-2000s
By the 1980s, Burgh Island faced disrepair until it was rescued by Tony and Beatrice Porter. Through meticulous restoration, the Porters revived the hotel’s former glory, transforming it into a beacon of Art Deco elegance. Recent owner Giles Fuchs, a serial entrepreneur, has continued the legacy, overseeing a multi-million pound restoration that balances classical aesthetics with modern sustainability initiatives.
Christmas at Burgh Island: A festive extravaganza of pleasing Art Deco-themed pomp
As the yuletide season approaches, Burgh Island prepares to enchant visitors with a three-day Christmas break from December 24th to 27th. The festivities kick off with a magical welcome in the Palm Court bar on Christmas Eve, featuring live Christmas music and a choice of a la carte menus in the Grand Ballroom, Nettlefold, and the Pilchard Inn.
Christmas Day promises cocktails, canapes, and an extravagant lunch served in the Grand Ballroom in true black-tie fashion. Boxing Day brings a Christmas quiz and an evening filled with aperitifs, magic, and live entertainment by Isobel Pierce and her Quartet.
The grand finale, “A Night at the Oscars” on Boxing Day, transports guests to the golden era of jazz, featuring Isobel Pearce’s Quartet performing timeless classics. Accompanied by fabulous dancers and the chance to try out Charleston, Foxtrot, and Swing dancing, it’s an immersive experience that echoes the glamour of a bygone era.
In the heart of Cornwall, Burgh Island Hotel beckons you to step into a world where history, elegance, and festive cheer converge. As the tree is adorned and the welcome extended, the Burgh Island Hotel invites you to be part of its century-long legacy and create timeless memories this Christmas, instead of staying home and enduring stressful family dramas around the dining table. Don’t miss the chance to revel in the magic of Burgh Island – where history meets luxury, and every corner whispers tales of a captivating past.