Topic: Clarendon Hotel, 78 Worcester Street, Christchurch

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Built in 1903, the Clarendon Hotel on the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace hosted many important international visitors. Its facade was retained during the construction of Clarendon Tower in 1986-87.

The Clarendon Hotel was situated on the corner of Worcester Street and Oxford Terrace. Originally a two storey wooden building, the home of William Guise Brittan, stood on this site. This was sold to Rowland Davis in the 1850s. This building became Davis’s Hotel, then the Lyttelton Hotel, before being renamed the Clarendon Hotel in 1870.Outside the Clarendon Hotel at the time of the Royal Visit, 1953

By the 1880s this building was in disrepair and in 1901 the police had reported that the building although comfortable, was “a very old house; the bedrooms were small” and that it should be replaced.

Tenders for the rebuilding of the new hotel, a brick and stone building designed in the Renaissance revival style, were advertised by architect, Joseph Clarkson Maddison, in March 1902. To make room for the new building, trees on the footpath corner of both Oxford Terrace and Worcester Street were cut down.

The new Clarendon Hotel opened on 3 May 1903.

The building was three storeys in height, with iron balcony fire escapes on the upper floors. There were two main entrances, the public entrance was via Worcester Street while the private entrance was off Oxford Terrace.

Upon entering the public entrance, the guest found themselves in a hall with a commercial room that faced on to Worcester Street. Next to this, further along the hall, was a large writing room. Halfway down the hall was a private bar and an office, next to which was the stairway to the second floor. There was a dining room at the end of the hall, and a kitchen. The first floor featured 11 bedrooms, a ladies drawing room which looked out over the park, a sitting room and a landing which acted as a vestibule. The second floor featured 17 bedrooms.

In the 1920s, further extensions were made to the building along Oxford Terrace and a verandah was added to the Worcester Street entrance.

In 1940s the intermediary sections of the parapet were removed.

The hotel was famous for hosting notable guests including The Beatles, the Shah of Persia, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1981 it was suggested that the building be demolished. However, it was later decided to retain the façade of the original building while building a new, modern tower building within. The construction of the new building, Clarendon Towers, was carried out 1986-1987.

The entire complex suffered damage during the Canterbury Earthquakes and was demolished in 2012.

Related

Quake Studies, Register Records for the Clarendon Hotel Facade, 78 Worcester Street, Christchurch.

Police objections to present buildings, Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 10984, 6 June 1901.

City improvements, Press, Volume LX, Issue 11583, 14 May 1903.

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