The Royal Clarence was of historical significance with the main building dating back to 1769.The building also contains several structures which date back to medieval times and have had many different uses.
The site is made up of five individual buildings – the Well House, Royal Clarence, Exeter Bank, Lambs Alley and 10 Martins Lane, all of which were consolidated into a hotel, though the exterior remained relatively unchanged for 150 years.
The hotel achieved Listed status in 1953 as part of a group of Listed buildings in Cathedral Yard, the most significant of which is Exeter Cathedral.
Much of the Royal Clarence building was lost after a fire started in neighbouring premises on 28th October 2016 and spread to the hotel, gutting much of the interior and leaving a substantial amount of the remainder needing to be demolished.
Even more was left unstable because of weathering over the last five years.
The fire caused the façade to partially collapse and very little of the interior remains today, with the medieval spine walls the most significant building fabric still standing.
The previous owners obtained planning permission in 2017 to create a new 74-bed hotel, including an additional upper storey, but work did not progress and in August 2020, the site was sold to South West Lifestyle Brands.
The consented hotel development was significantly unviable, with a forecast loss of c.£17million, and has been further impacted by the recent introduction of a new 5 star hotel a few hundred yards away.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced this position, and the historic nature of the building, coupled with the considerable damage caused by the fire, means its restoration will be an especially complex project, architecturally, technically and commercially.