The Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne provides the perfect setting for a quiet getaway, or as a base from which to venture out and explore the stunning local scenery. Scant yards from the English border and nestled amidst rolling, Powys hills and wonderful open countryside, this Grade II listed building, with its wealth of original exposed beams and timber panelled walls, exudes an atmosphere of classic Tudor elegance.
The Hotel lies at the end of the High Street (B4356) in the centre of Presteigne, former county town of Radnorshire, now part of modern day Powys. A small, private car park, suitable for a handful of cars, sits across the road, directly opposite the main entrance. A much larger car park, accessible from Joe Deakins Road (B4355), provides additional parking and access to the hotel through the upper gardens.
The Radnorshire Arms Hotel has a rich and diverse history, stretching back over four centuries. The original building dates back to the late 16th century, despite the date of 1616 which still adorns the front porch, and was owned by one Sir Christopher Hatton, a lawyer and politician, Lord Chancellor of England and, according to popular rumour, lover of Queen Elizabeth I, who also owned neighbouring property. Allegations of the affair were made public in 1584 by Mary, Queen of Scots, and in a strange twist of fate, Hatton was one of the commissioners who found her guilty of treason just three years later. He became Lord Chancellor that same year...
In a less sinister vein, he also gave his name to 'Hatton Garden', London's Jewellery Capital. The house of the Bishop of Ely was officially granted to Hatton by Queen Elizabeth I in 1581 (much to the disgust of the Bishop), and the surrounding land became known as 'Hatton's Gardens' - the name remains to this day.
There are many anomalies inside the Hotel itself, caused by the large number of changes and additions to the original structure. Doors opening onto brick walls are a common occurrence on both floors of the of the main building. Construction continued throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The earliest phase dates back to the late 1500's, with some renovations taking place in the early 1600's. The three storey rear extension is Victorian, the middle section dates to the 1790's, and the Garden Lodges weren't built until the 1970's. Such renovation work in 1875 revealed a secret chamber off of what is now the Resident's Lounge. This turned out to be a Priest Hole, and behind one of the panels was the diary of a Catholic Priest who had stayed hidden there for two years. The Priest Hole remains on show to this day, but the diary has long since gone.