Riggs Family and The Windermere Hotel
Since its creation The Windermere Hotel has had a varied history, we start with the arrival of the railway to Windermere opening in April 1847. It was owned by “The Kendal and Windermere Railway Company”. A company with shareholders which also provided at least some of the finance for the construction of the Hotel, which was overseen by Abraham Pattinson being in charge at the time and the architect was Miles Thompson of Kendal.
The hotel officially opened on 12th May 1847 and at this time the hotel was referred to as ‘Birthwaite Hotel’ during its construction. In the 1849 and following directories the hotel is referred to as “The Windermere Hotel”
The term “Rigg’s Windermere Hotel” first appears around 1854 in travel guidebooks to the Lake District from advertisements placed by the hotel. The name “Riggs” comes from Richard Rigg who commissioned the hotel to be built. It seems to have been common practice in those days to name the hotel after the manager or owner running the hotel, hence “Rigg’s Windermere Hotel” named after Richard Rigg.
Richard Rigg is described as the first tenant of the hotel where he also owned and ran a successful coaching business, where he was known as the “Coaching King”. It seems likely that he owned a stake in the hotel at the outset and he may have built up his stake over many years with profit from the coaching business, perhaps to own it in full.
In 1851 the census names Richard Rigg, aged 36, as the head of household at ‘Windermere Hotel’ and his occupation as ‘Innkeeper’. In 1861 he is described as ‘Hotel Manager’ but still living at the hotel. Richard is married to Sarah and their children are John, Thomas, Mary, Richard, Sarah, Jane Anne and Lucy Anne.
Richard Rigg was a highly respected and well liked member of the community and described as ‘one of the most respected hotel keepers in the North of England. He died in July 1866 after a long illness, aged 52. According to the probate of the will his son John was ‘hotel-keeper’ of Windermere Hotel at the time of his father’s death.
The census return of 1871 gives Richard’s son, John Rigg, aged 25, as head of household at Windermere Hotel with occupation ‘Licensed Victualler and Farmer’. Also given at the hotel are John’s sister Mary as ‘housekeeper’, his brother Thomas as ‘landowner’, and younger siblings Richard, Jane Anne and Lucy Alice – all scholars.
Today inside the hotel many of the original features can still be seen including the marble urinals and railway features. Visit Coast and Country Hotels to take a further look.
We’d love to learn more about the history of The Windermere Hotel and the Riggs family. If you know more, or perhaps have stayed in the past, why not tell us by posting a comment below.