Lady Emma Hamilton, with her long dark hair and symmetrical features stepped down from the horse-drawn-carriage after entering the wide-arched entrance of the coaching inn. She lifted the folds of her dress and cast her eyes around in the hope no one was watching as she was about to rendezvous with Lord Nelson.
It is easy to imagine such a scene once you learn of the history of The Talbot Coaching Inn in Ripley near Woking.
The Talbot Inn Hotel is one of England’s finest coaching inns and has played its part in history over the centuries and, particularly, for being a favourite haunt of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton in 1798 – where a ‘love affair’ blossomed.
The Inn dates back to 1453 when it was used for people commuting from London to Portsmouth. It still serves as a stop-off for tired travellers from where, as soon as you arrive at the ivy-covered redbrick retreat, its old world charm beckons a welcome.
It was taken over by Bespoke hotels in 2015 when it was fully refurbished, but it still retains many period features.
Ample parking is available at the rear of the property in the car park and there are 3 Tesla Electric Car Chargers available.
There are 43 bedrooms, 9 of which are located in the main coaching inn and have all kept some of their original 15th century features. The rooms are spread across four buildings, some overlooking the old coach courtyard. The Ripley Wing is in the old stables. The original barns, with open beam features and hayloft ladders, are still used for functions including meetings, weddings and conferences.
Rooms are clean, comfortable and spacious. They are well-equipped with wifi, tea and coffee making facilities and TVs.
We were allocated to Room 6 named the ‘Victory’ on the first floor, via a staircase. To access the room, we travelled along a corridor which gave the impression of being on board an old ship especially upon entering and experiencing a somewhat sloping, creaking floor. It certainly had a lot of character with it’s old ceiling beams and supporting post positioned in the room. The towel holder in the bathroom was wonderfully hot!
We ate in the restaurant for dinner and my husband and I shared a fantastic seafood platter, followed by lamb and dessert. Restaurant staff were friendly and polite.
We had a comfortable nights sleep although I have to say the mattress seemed somewhat ‘tired.’ I did mention to the reception about it and they thanked me for reporting and said they would look into it.
Breakfast was very good. A wide selection from the buffet and kitchen. I had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs after cereals etc. The breakfast area is in a glass conservatory overlooking the garden and it is possible to eat outside when weather permits.
Emma’s Room is located opposite the reception and a placard has been placed on Lord Nelson’s favourite seat.
There is a legend which says there is a tunnel leading from The Talbot to the old Priory, the ruins of which can be seen from Newark Lane. No one seems to know why it was built but it could be related to The Dissolution of the Monasteries from 1546 when King Henry V111 disbanded Roman Catholic monasteries, priories and convents. The Priory is on private land but can be seen whilst walking along the river Wey between Pyrford and Ripley.
An interesting discovery was made fairly recently in the main house. On the bannister rail at the top of the creaking staircase in the main house, a Daisy Wheel was carved into the wood. Now, very rare, they are said to have been carved to ward off witches and ghosts in Medieval times. On the subject of ghosts, some say a lady in black walks through the courtyard and a drunken sailor walks in the main house. I cannot report seeing any of these apparitions!
We chose The Talbot for a night’s stay because it was close to Woking where we had booked to see a theatre performance. It is also only five minutes away from RHS Wisley Gardens, a 15 minute drive from Painshill Park landscaped gardens and only 30 minutes from Central London.
We would certainly stay again.
With a choice of 43 bedrooms, including 9 brimming with traditional character in the old Coaching Inn, our rooms offer a blend of traditional and contemporary facilities, with solid oak furniture complementing many original features of the 15th century building.