History & Gardens
A Victorian villa, St Maur was completed in 1876. It was designed and built by Michael Hodder Westdrop, an Irish man from Dublin, the eldest son of a wealthy family. He bought the land from the Hambrough Estates and built a house on the site, occupying three acres. It was built as a family home for himself, wife and two children (a son and a daughter). He lived here for about ten years.
He was a leading archaeologist of his time and also an antiquarian. He liked to study old books and the scrolls, then mainly housed in ecclesiastical institutions. It was by doing this that he came to name the house St Maur.
St Maur is an abbey in the Anjou/Saumur wine region on the south bank of the River Loire, east of Angers and west of Saumur. He visited this place frequently to read the books and documents. It is now a international centre for ecumenical studies. The abbey is named after St Maurus, a hermit who came from Angers and founded a monastery in the 6th century on the site of the roman villa of Glanfeul on the Loire. Excavations in the courtyard have revealed a 4th century Gallo Roman temple (nymphauem) dedicated to the water goddess (Nymphs); St Maurus converted this into a chapel, the column bars of which are visible.
|Original photograph of St Maur
in the background, dating from
1880 overlooking Ventnor park
and the park lodge.
From 1966, the business has been run by the Groocock family, initially by my parents John and Margaret Groocock (originally from Leicester) with a little help from myself (David) and my sister Anne and brother Nick. The hotel was sadly in need of repair at this time, however the sixties were boom years, when most people felt better off and trade was brisk. They were able to finance refurbishments, plus, in 1971, built on extra rooms. The majority of the British public still stayed in Britain for their annual holidays, but during the early 1970s, foreign travel became more accessible and people began going abroad for their main holiday.
Unable to compete with Mediterranean weather (some English summers at this time were not very good), we upgraded our facilities during the 1970's/early 1980's and introduced en suite facilities and in-room tea and coffee making facilities. It was a difficult time as Britain was in recession but we pulled through.
In 1989, my wife and I took over the business and we initiated short break stays which have become very popular and become the main growth area. We have continued to upgrade, refurbish and improve and today we are open 11 months of the year (closing only for a much needed break). We are 98% full for nearly all this time and have many return and/or recommended clients.
We hope you have enjoyed this potted history. Maybe you would like to visit us here at St Maur where we can promise you a relaxing break with service from friendly staff who have been with us for the past ten years and longer!
Over the years I have tried to create a sub tropical garden for guests to appreciate. There are many types of different palms that grow here as our winters tend to be mild - a tree fern (Dicksonia Antarcitica), Cannas (different colours), Echuims from the Canary Islands (can grow up to 8 feet tall), Bananas (Musa Basjoo & Musa Hooka) and many other types of plants and shrubs. In the spring, the garden looks very pretty with daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs flowering. There is always plenty of colour! We like to grow shrubs with fragrant aromas to greet you as you walk the path to the front door. As with all gardens, we change parts of it every year and plan to put in a water feature next summer. There is a lawn area where you can sit when the weather is warmer in the spring and summer months. If it gets too hot, there is also a cool, shady area available.