Queen Victoria at the Royal Glen

We have lost our longest-reigning monarch – but the nation’s second-longest reigning queen can ‘thank’ Sidmouth to quite some degree for an unhappy accident which propelled her to the throne:

Sidmouth was all a flutter in December 1819 when the Duke and Duchess of Kent arrived with their entourage, which included their little daughter Victoria, who was sixth in line when she was born yet destined to be queen. They actually arrived on Christmas Eve in the midst of a snowstorm.

Edward, Duke of Kent (1767-1820), his wife, Victoria (or Victoire) of Saxe-Coburg, and the chubby little tot, settled down at Woolbrook Cottage, which is today the Royal Glen Hotel. It had once been incongruously King’s Cottage, named from a Mr. King (of Bath) who had gentrified an existing 16th-century farmhouse back in the 1770s, transforming it into a Gothic villa with Regency interiors. It was in 1817 that the house was purchased by Maj. Gen. Edward Baynes, who extended the grounds and made other improvements. This is when it became Woolbrook Cottage (sometimes Glen)…

This was a vacation without happiness, for Victoria’s father became very ill, dying in Sidmouth of complications, having caught a heavy cold, which turned to pneumonia. He’d unwisely not changed out of saturated boots after he’d returned from a yomp in the thawing snow.

The Duke had managed to sign his last will and testament before passing away on 23 January, 1820, ironically, in the process, pushing his tiny daughter one step closer to the throne. 

Queen Victoria’s first Holiday in Devon | British Heritage

With more from the Royal Glen Hotel’s website:

History | Hotel in Sidmouth | Family Hotel | Royal Glen

And the SVA’s blue plaque for the buiding:

Sidmouth Town Website – Blue Plaque Royal Glen