Visited by monarchs and international heads of government.
When in 1899, the 44-year-old, wealthy vicar of Brockenhurst decided to leave his parish and spend the rest of his days living a life of leisure with his wife elsewhere in Hampshire, his extraordinarily large, 11-bedroom, private house, standing in grounds of 14 acres, was put up for sale.
The house was only six years old. It was snapped up by Bournemouth’s most entrepreneurial hotelier, William Henry Doré, who greatly expanded the property and converted it into a luxury hotel. It opened in 1905 under the name The Forest Park Hotel. Among the guests in the early years were the nation’s longest-serving Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, and former USA president, Theodore Roosevelt.
From the start of the First World War, The Forest Park Hotel was requisitioned by the government for use as a military hospital for Imperial troops wounded on the Western Front. The first to come were soldiers from northern India. In November 1914, patients and medics were visited at the hotel by King George V, the Emperor of India, and Queen Mary, the Empress.
In 1916, the Indians departed and were replaced by soldiers and medics of the Infantry Division of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The New Zealanders were visited in June 1918 by their Prime Minister, William Massey, who was in England attending an Imperial War Conference.
After the end of the war, The Forest Park Hotel underwent a complete refit to return to its proper role as a luxury hotel. It reopened in March 1920. It became well-known for decades as a permanent home for elderly, wealthy individuals, until the 1960s when the grandson of the hotel founder retired and sold the property. New owner, Robin Collins, refurbished and expanded the hotel, repositioning it as a modern, popular venue for travellers, holidaymakers, and locals alike. In 2018, under subsequent new owners, another large-scale modernisation was carried out, leading to the then-award-winning hotel being acquired by the Coaching Inn Group in 2022.