A SHORT HISTORY OF
The Arundell Arms
The Arundell has welcomed generations of returning families, be it for the love of sportsmanship or a love for the ever-present character which still thrives within the hotel today. The original building itself, which guests today can recognise from the street-side facade, is 250 to 300 years old – covering an area roughly from part of the lounge, through to the cocktail bar and along to the Lyd Room and television room.
The original stone entrance still exists today, sitting under the balcony which juts out over the main road looking over to the village church.
The cockpit in the hotel garden (now the rod and tackle room) is also over 200 years old and is said to be one of the few cockpits in England which still survive. Whilst the roof is new, having been renovated regularly throughout the years, most of the walls are original.
Now the site of fishing tackle, the circular rod rack enclosing the area of a raised earth mound inside was there until about 1970, and is the cocks were set to fight. Cock-fighting was made illegal in Victorian times, but was said to have continued in country districts long after it had ceased in the towns. Public opinion was aroused against it, because of the use of steel spurs on the birds’ legs. This lethal method of fighting shortened individual conflicts, allowed more fights to take place and more bets to be laid. Among the hotel’s early relics are a pair of cock fighting spurs which can be seen in the glass cupboard by the cocktail bar entrance.
One suspects that there was a much earlier inn or ale house on the site of the hotel long before the late 1600’s. No records of such an inn have been found but the hotel was originally called The White Horse and that suggests links with the Saxons, for the badge of the white horse is of Saxon origin; moreover, the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon kings, King Alfred (849-901) was Lord of the Manor of Lifton.
In the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries, Lifton was a frontier town, a military outpost of the Saxons during their conquests of West Devon and Cornwall. Battles with the Celts were fought at Lewtrenchard, near Lifton, and at a shallow crossing or ford of the Tamar somewhere near the present Polson Bridge. The name Tamar comes from the Celtic words Taw Maur – big water.
Today the memory of the river frontier of the Tamar lives on in local speech. Many a Cornishman, crossing the Tamar into Devon, will say when he gets back home that he has been “over the border”.
In medieval times, Lifton, as a Royal Manor, was in the gift of the Sovereign, and held for its revenues by a member of the royal family or a court favourite. One Lord of the Manor was the Earl of Westmorland, another was the Fair Maid of Kent, wife of the Black Prince, Duke of Cornwall (1330-1370). It is doubtful whether either ever came near Lifton.
The only royal visitor we know of was Charles I who came unexpectedly, riding up the main street, one July morning in 1644, surrounded by his Cavaliers and men-at-arms. This was during the Civil War and Charles was making a desperate effort to rally the Royalists of Cornwall to stem the attacks of the Parliamentary Army under Essex.