The Cliffe Hotel History

Click here to download The Cliffe Hotel Historical Highlights (PDF)

1966 painting of The Cliffe Hotel Ludlow

The Cliffe Hotel property was built between 1853 and 1856 by Humphrey Salwey. The land was formerly owned by the Ludlow Corporation who put it up for auction in 1847. At that point it was a ribbon strip of land about the width of the property extending right back behind the house. The Corporation also owned the land to the east, now the garden, which was incorporated into the property a little later.

Humphrey Salwey was a Ludlow solicitor who was living in Dinham in 1851. Humphrey Salwey's ancestor Richard built Moor Park just south of Ludlow, and the family had long associations with Richards Castle where Humphrey's great-grandfather had been rector. Humphrey married Louisa Rebecca Johnstone in 1847 and their eldest two children Theophilus (named after Humphrey's father) and Agnes were born in Dinham. He named his new house The Cliff (no E) and the couple's other three children were born there. The first was Laura, in 1856, then Katherine (Kate) and Charlotte. Their growing family was probably one reason for moving to a larger house. Humphrey's will written in 1871 reveals he had estates in three other parishes in addition to The Cliff, so he was evidently well-off and his purpose-built modern Victorian house on the outskirts of town would have reflected his status.

After his death in 1873, The Cliff remained home to Humphrey's widow Louisa who remained there for the rest of her life. After her death in 1906 the property passed to her daughter Agnes who had married a barrister named James Douglas White. Humphrey's will had stipulated that Theophilus should be offered The Cliff for a purchase price of £1,000 after the death or remarriage of his mother, and if he turned this down the property would pass to Humphrey and Louisa's four daughters in equal shares. Given that Louisa lived for 33 years after her husband's death it's perhaps surprising that Theophilus didn't take up this offer since £1,000 would have had greater purchasing power in 1906 than in 1873. However a survey undertaken in 1910 revealed that Agnes Mary White was the owner of The Cliff so perhaps she had bought out her siblings.

1928 aution poster from The Cliffe Hotel Ludlow

Agnes died in 1918 and it is not clear what happened at The Cliff during the next 10 years. Electoral registers record different people there each year between 1922-1925 but subsequent events indicate that it must still have been the Salwey family home until 1928, so perhaps these people were staff. In 1928, following the death of Theophilus, Humphrey and Louisa Salwey's remaining daughter Charlotte who had married Herbert Gratton held a massive auction at The Cliff in which she put up for sale the entire contents of the property. The auction was a huge affair and would have been the talk of Ludlow. The auctioneers put up large posters and advertised the sale in the local newspaper. The poster said that Mrs Gratton had 'let the property on lease' which was the reason for the sale. The sale was so large with 636 lots that it took two days to hold the auction and a marquee was erected in the grounds to accommodate everyone.

The sale catalogue is remarkable in its detail. The headline items were 'genuine early English furniture, antique oil portraits, old prints, early silver and Sheffield plate, jewellery, antique china and a grand pianoforte'. After detailing the paintings, silver, plate, etc. it goes on to give a tour of the house, room by room, describing all the contents for sale. The named rooms were: entrance hall, dining room, china pantry, kitchen, drawing room, first stairs, sitting room, bedroom 1, dressing room 1, bedrooms 2 and 3, bathroom, top stairs, bedrooms 4-7, store rooms 1 and 2, scullery, gardens, outbuildings. A short report of the sale in the local newspaper recorded the prices realised for some of the items. Although we don't know the total sum realised, the quality and quantity of these personal effects indicates that the Salwey's must have been a very wealthy family.

The first people to have spent any time at The Cliff after 1928 were Thomas and Georgina Brown who moved to The Cliff in 1937 from Raven Lane in Ludlow. This information was from the electoral registers which means they were the occupiers of the property, not necessarily its owners. The next occupier was Marjorie M Hughes who moved there in 1949. The 1955 electoral register mentions the Cliff Camping Ground. The final E on Cliffe seems to have appeared when Mr and Mrs Traylor took over the hotel in 1984.

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Guest Comments

We stayed for one night. The welcome was lovely. Room was great - we had a large double which had a sofa too. Very clean and nicely furnished without being fussy. Breakfast was excellent.


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