The rest of the story is wrapped in mystery, including details about the life of famous architect Sir Christopher Wren in Windsor. Here is what we have managed to find out from Windsor’s historical records and our own research – a fascinating story of barge masters, baronesses and even ghosts. If you have more information, please do contact us.
Sir Christopher Wren in Windsor
Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723) was a hugely successful architect renowned for his work on St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Observatory and over 50 churches. Wren’s father was Dean of Windsor from 1635 to 1658, so the young Christopher grew up in the town.
In Windsor, Sir Christopher Wren is said to have completed the building of the Guildhall after the death of the original architect, Sir Thomas Fitz, in 1689.
Home of high society
According to historical records, what is now the Main House of the Sir Christopher Wren Hotel was owned by the Cheshire family in the 18th century and was the centre of a lively social scene. The family’s eldest daughter married Lord Fauconberg, who died from a fit of apoplexy, and in 1788 the house passed to the Jervoise family who had a son at Eton College.
Coal merchant to the King
It later belonged to Mr More, a local barge master and coal merchant to the King. More opened a gateway to a wharf by the river and erected stables for his many horses needed to tow the barges. The family kept the house’s suite of rooms beautifully maintained.
A ghost in Wren’s bedroom
In the late 19th century it was purchased by Baroness de Vaux. Her son was amused by an alleged ghost in the room known as ‘Sir Christopher Wren’s bedroom’ and the Baroness refused to sleep there. Around 1918, the house fell empty for some years and was known as The Haunted House.
From guest house to hotel
In the 1920s two sisters, the Misses Outlaw, ran the House as the Riverholme Restaurant and Guest House. Mr Ian Black, an Old Etonian, then bought the House and built the present restaurant. He also extended the building by one floor of bedrooms at the rear of the hotel.
From 1946 to 1950, the Potters owned the hotel, followed by James Miers who restored its reputation as a centre of social events and built a second floor of bedrooms at the rear. A new wing of bedrooms was added, looking directly over the Thames and Eton Bridge.
A historic monument
In 1950, Wren’s House – as it was then known – was registered as a Grade II listed building of historic and architectural interest.
The Mogford family took over from 1982 to 1985, and the hotel was then purchased and refurbished by Greenstar Hotels plc. Goran Strok acquired it in December 1995 and named his new hotel company, Wren’s Group, after it.
New life and a fresh look
Sarova Hotels purchased the building in 2011 and we immediately undertook an extensive refurbishment programme. We took great care to preserve the building’s historic features while making it suitable for today’s travellers.