William Mew Judd and the Royal Marine Hotel

In any history of Ventnor it is not long before the name of William Mew Judd is mentioned. This gentleman was a prominent businessman who played a full part in the life of our Victorian town. He was born in 1832 and came to Ventnor in 1863, arriving by sea at our short lived harbour.

He joined his uncle and soon took over the running of the Marine Hotel in Belgrave Road. The hotel’s fame grew and it received Royal patronage from Princess Henry of Battenburg. The ‘Royal’ prefix was granted in 1886 and was proudly added to the name. The photograph here shows a coach loaded with luggage outside the hotel.

Morgan Richards in his book “Almost Fairyland” writes about coming to the hotel in 1882. “Mr Judd owned, controlled and managed everything pertaining to this excellent establishment. These genial and kind hosts (Mr Judd and his wife) promptly made our acquaintance and … as comfortable as we have ever been in any hotel in any country . . . and have thoroughly appreciated the hospitable welcome.”

Mr Judd was described as having a remarkable personality, full of vigour and kindness, boundless hospitality and great benevolence.

Apart from running the Royal Marine, he busied himself with all aspects of the town, from Chairman of the local authority, to acting in local repertory, from the Carnival Committee to Church Warden at Holy Trinity. He also excelled at giving graphic lectures on the history of Ventnor. In 1878 he was foreman of the Jury at the inquest held in Ventnor into the tragic loss of the training ship “Euridice”.

On retirement from the hotel in 1890 he went to live at ” Grove Mount” ( now “Ravenscourt”). He died in 1913 and is buried in Ventnor Cemetery. A great loss to Ventnor, a dynamic man who was dedicated to the town and firmly believed in Ventnor’s future as a premier resort.

This description of the Marine Hotel is from a late 19th century trade directory (about 1894):

‘On the right of the entrance hall we note the hydraulic elevator for passengers and luggage, and observe that it is of the newest and most improved type. Here also is another noble reception-room and drawing-room, and adjoining is the finely appointed smoking-room, adorned with a number of very valuable and interesting old sporting prints. There are lavatories, perfectly fitted in every details and supplied with hot and cold water. . . . The kitchens are entirely separate from the hotel, being in another building, and the necessary means of conveyance is furnished by a specially constructed kitchen tramway. The advantages of this are obvious, and so well is the plan contrived that there is not the smallest chance of any odour of cooking entering the hotel and annoying sensitive olfactory organs.’ (http://www.iwhistory.org.uk/victoriandirectory/)

William Mew Judd’s son, William Bush Judd, was also a prominent figure in Ventnor, very like his father, and served on the town Council. He managed the Marine Hotel with his father, and took over when his father retired. William Bush Judd joined the army and rose to the rank of Major in the Army Service Corps, and died in 1918 (recorded as one of the war dead, buried in Ventnor Cemetery)

Graham Bennett

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