James Barrett’s the name, businessmen, landlord, convivial host and developer, that’s me. I built “Barrett’s Royal Hotel”. A great gift to the town, not that most people around here thought so at the time.
Although I really had bought the land I rather unfortunately caused decades off ill feeling in the town by using a part of the Prospect as the garden for the new hotel. Watch my film and I’ll tell you all about the Prospect Riots.
In 1837 I bought the old Pounds Inn, and land including a load of pig pens and the Prospect (all of it once a part of the Mediaeval Bishop’s Palace) from William Fisher.
The Pounds inn was small and in a bad way, and with so many more people coming to Ross on the new trains, many of them to do the Wye Tour, the town needed posher hotels. I was no stranger to the hotel industry, I’d run the Swan and Falcon in the town for many years. I pulled down almost all of the old buildings (you can still see bits of the Pounds Inn in my new hotel outbuildings near the churchyard) and build this magnificent place.
Well, at the end of the day, a great hotel needs great gardens, don’t you think? Kyrle’s Prospect behind my new business was in a bit of a mess and no one in the town much cared for it. There were animals eating all the grass and turning it into mud in the winter. There had been a fountain in the middle, it had to be filled in well before I came along.
So what was wrong, I thought, with taking a part of it over and turning it into a nice garden for my customers to enjoy?
Well, you’ve never heard such a fuss! More than thirty years it went on, even after my death. The Prospect Riots all came to a head in 1869 when a great crowd bust into the gardens, trampled the kitchen gardens, tore up the flowers and shrubs and hacked my wooden billiards room to pieces. They lit a bonfire and fed it with doors, gates, posts and all manner of plants from the gardens. It went on for hours and only a sharp fall of rain brought it to a close and all the rioters went home.
It was all finally settled in 1870 when Thomas Blake secretly bought my Hotel and The Prospect and gave the larger part of the gardens to the town. Watch our videos for a bit more.