Stay Original pumps £5m into historic pub

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Portfolio addition: the King’s Arms in Dorchester was acquired by Stay Original in 2016
Portfolio addition: the King’s Arms in Dorchester was acquired by Stay Original in 2016
Multiple operator Stay Original has invested £5m into the refurbishment of a pub that is famed for its literary links to novelist Thomas Hardy.

Work has started on the renovation of the King’s Arms in Dorchester and is set to open its doors in early 2020.

The iconic Dorset hotel is part of the expanding collection of properties owned and run by the boutique hotel and pub group, which was founded in 2011.

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The Somerset-based business specialises in putting new life into historic coaching inns and has already transformed four other venues into award-winning inns.

Long history

These are the Swan in Wedmore and the White Hart in Somerton, both in Somerset; Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire; and the Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Stay Original acquired the King’s Arms in 2016 after the former owners had closed it. Situated on Dorchester’s high street, the venue featured in Hardy’s novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge​ as well as in Far From The Madding Crowd​.

During the site’s 300-year history, the Grade II-listed building has played host to monarchs and musicians alike including Queen Victoria, King George IV, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as well as Thomas Hardy.

Following a £5m investment, phase one of the refurbishment of the pub will see the ground floor with bar, reception, restaurant and 20 bedrooms open in the early part of next year. Phase two – with an additional 14 bedrooms – will roll out a few months later.

Pub legacy

Stay Original Co managing director Rob Greacen said: “You can’t fail to be impressed by the drive among the people of Dorchester to invest in the town and actively promote its strong historic and literary heritage.

“The King’s Arms is a lovely and important part of that legacy and we really hope we can do our part to improve things further.

“Nothing gives us more pleasure than reviving beautiful old buildings and making them busy and exciting places to visit.

“We are expecting to open early in 2020 but if the project goes well, we may be able to bring that forward to just before Christmas 2019.

“It all depends on how smoothly the refurbishment goes. But when the doors do reopen, visitors can expect a rejuvenated King’s Arms, offering first-class hospitality again – back to its best. Maybe even better!”

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